Day 3, Final Rundown

After that, I need some ice for my finger. (AP Photo)

RICHMOND -- If anybody else had been moving on the court the way Gilbert Arenas did during the 30 minutes that reporters were allowed to watch the Washington Wizards on Thursday, then I probably wouldn't have made a big deal about it. But since Arenas has been dealing with left knee problems for most of the past two years, I was a bit thrown off when he sat out the team scrimmages for the second consecutive day -- and moved gingerly up and down the court during sprints.

Arenas certainly does have a dislocated left middle finger and he was receiving treatment on his hand when we finally were allowed to enter the gym. In my earlier post, Saunders said that Arenas's knee is fine and that he showed "no ill effects." After Thursday's practice, I talked to a few people who said that Arenas really was able to go through every drill before the full-court scrimmages and has no problems.

"There's no need to force the issue," Saunders said, when talking about Arenas's finger, which apparently began to swell after it was struck on Wednesday.

But it did seem odd that Arenas was jogging with a slight limp while his teammates were doing full out sprints. It wasn't a normal stride. Was it the result of being stiff after sitting still for almost half and hour? Possibly.

Now, Arenas appeared to be moving around fine while engaging in a shooting contest with Randy Foye after practice. So, it really could be no big deal. His personal trainer, Tim Grover, wasn't around him monitoring his leg or anything. Arenas has toyed with the media before, so he could've just been playing around with us to get some attention. Mike Jones of the Washington Times, Mike Prada of Bullets Forever and I noticed how Arenas glanced in our direction every time he completed running up and down the court.

If it is something serious or much ado about nothing, we'll know soon enough, but that sort of thing cannot be overlooked considering Arenas's past struggles with his left knee.

As for the rest of the team, I can tell you that Flip Saunders raved about the way Nick Young and Andray Blatche had focused on being consistent. He pointed out how Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison have been focusing on defense, singled out the play of Mike Miller and Foye, and gave another nod to Mike James. Yep, that Mike James.

"During these first days, at some point, everyone has had their time," Saunders said.

Foye has been spending a lot of time handling the ball and looked good in the scrimmage for the second day in a row. Dominic McGuire has been really aggressive defensively, but he turned a few heads with his offensive repertoire on Thursday. He had a nifty baseline drive and reverse layup and also hit a nice turnaround jumper over Jamison.

One of the biggest surprises of the first few days of practice really has been the play of James. Since the Wizards acquired Foye and Miller in June, James discounted as having no chance of seeing the floor for Saunders but he has been really solid this week. He's also in impeccable shape. James said he's lost 20 to 25 pounds since the end of last season, and Saunders joked, "That's why you see him taking his shirt off."

Against incredible odds, James is fighting to earn a spot in the rotation, but he credits his offseason workouts in Houston with Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach John Lucas. "He told me two things. I could either come back this year as old ... Mike James or I can come back this year as Mike James of old. I chose the second."

James is one of two Wizards with a championship ring and he made a special point to add that he is younger than the other one (Fabricio Oberto). "I will not take credit for being the oldest on the team any longer," said James, who turned 34 in June. "Fabricio Oberto, let's get the record straight, he was born in March [1975]."

Asked if James had reminded him that he is not the oldest, Oberto smiled and said, "I think he told me already."

James was in good spirits after practice, joking that he was going to get a pedicure later in the afternoon. He has been running the offense with precision and made a decent effort on defense. "There is a saying that you can teach old dogs new tricks," James said, flipping the popular phrase to suit him. "I learned how to play dead, roll over, go fetch the bone and bring it back.

"Coach Flip, he wants to win. Even though he's won in the past, it still has haunted him that he hasn't been able to finish the way he's wanted to," James said. "But he wants to bring people along that want to win also. He's coming into this blind. He's basically like, 'Let the best man win.' I'm putting myself in a position where I want to show him that I'm one of the guys who can help him win."

After practice, I talked to Javaris Crittenton who told me that he is still playing with pain in his left ankle after hurting himself playing in the Atlanta pro am league this summer. Crittenton missed the championship game and is still smarting over it. He said that he actually suffered a bone bruise but wouldn't let it keep him out of training camp this week. "Right now, you've got to play through it," he said.

The Wizards had just one practice on Thursday, but will have another two practice sessions on Friday.

By Michael Lee |  October 1, 2009; 10:09 PM ET
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Interesting. We've all been assuming Mike James will be sitting the bench, but it just may be Crittendon who is the odd man out, especially with Foye seemingly being groomed as the 2nd option at PG.

Posted by: Prazak | October 1, 2009 11:11 PM

Mike James is bad, but so is Javaris. I think the difference between the two is that on occasion Mike James can hit a jumper or two. Javaris really has no distinguishable skill. He's really not that good as a defender and is a terrible shooter. He'll rarely, if ever, dress in my opinion. It's a shame EG gave up a future first for JC.

Posted by: ldecker | October 1, 2009 11:23 PM

Scaring me already. Too early for doomsday news about Gil. May turn out that Foye is handling that ball more than we thought.

Posted by: m1ke3i6 | October 1, 2009 11:25 PM

hey Mike Lee, do you know if NBA TV is coming to camp? I saw in the guide that it has the Wiz camp on there for Monday but it says from 05. However, the last couple of days it also had the Nuggs Camp from 05 in the guide but when you turn it on, it was this year's camp with Billups

Posted by: dlts20 | October 1, 2009 11:30 PM

Sounds like Flip should move away from the 1/4 offense with Arenas getting 80% of the action, to an offense with Foye and Arenas in the backcourt sharing the ball.

The only weak spot on the team is Gilbert's knee, which doesn't need to be overtaxed in the first part of the season.

Posted by: Izman | October 1, 2009 11:33 PM

I see that GILBERTOLOGY is still around, despite Hibachi's claim of no more fooling around, and being all business...

Posted by: sargeantmofo | October 1, 2009 11:37 PM

It would really be great if Mike James is playing well. He could be attractive trade bait given his expiring contract. Maybe the Wiz can get some kind of decent big man late in the season for him.

Posted by: agrazian | October 2, 2009 12:12 AM

To many guards. I hope we can deal one of these guys before the season starts

Posted by: ptp23 | October 2, 2009 12:22 AM

why before the season starts? plenty of time before the trade deadline. plenty of time to evaluate our chemistry, what we really need next, and who will be most desperate to make a trade. it'd be foolish to make a trade before the season at this point

Posted by: crs-one | October 2, 2009 12:35 AM

Listen to Gilbert Arenas on 106.7 the Fan in DC

Posted by: ptp23 | October 2, 2009 12:53 AM

Posted by: ptp23 | October 2, 2009 12:54 AM

It's too bad Ivan Carter is not around to compare this limp with the "dragging his leg around" description last season.

Wonder why there's no comment or question to EG about players having their own personal trainers attend practice...even the hint that Grover wasn't around strikes you as "why would he be allowed regardless?"

Hmm, Gilby playing blacktop ball on 9ft courts....deja vu all over again?

Next thing we'll hear is that Gilby has an arthritic knee with bone on bone contact.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | October 2, 2009 3:07 AM

Gilbert might be done!

Posted by: paulelucas2 | October 2, 2009 5:53 AM

100 million down the drain. We could have got several additional players for that price.

Posted by: paulelucas2 | October 2, 2009 5:57 AM

Wow! Some people's silliness astounds me. Why even bother to be a wizard fan. Some people around here have so much hate against Gilbert. They have him pegged as their most disgusted DC area sports figure, athlete or non-athlete.

Me, my hate is for Dan Snyder.

Posted by: G-Man11 | October 2, 2009 7:52 AM

That sounds like something Gil would do. Pretending to walk around like his leg is hurt just so we can start this whole "Gil is done" talk, just so it can motivate him. The man uses any slight against him as motivation. Real or not. Remember when he blasted phoenix because he thought C'olangelo slighted him on team USA? Gil was HURT!! C'olangelo did him a favot by noto playing him and Gil still used it as a slight against him (the 3 from just past half court and then staring at C'olangelo was classic).

Posted by: CBell29 | October 2, 2009 8:08 AM

Logically, it does not make sense that it is the knee.

If you factor all that was reported about him during he summer, it does not make sense that he would have two practices in training camp and now he has to rest because of the knee.

When you play summer basketball, there is balling going on and you can play several hours at a time if your Team is good.

It would be highly unlikely that he could hold up during the summer without any bad reports about the knee.

If indeed Gilbert was actively playing during the summer and there were no reports of him favoring the knee and the knee is giving him problems after only two practices now, then there was some snow job going on.

I don't buy it. It has to be something else.


Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | October 2, 2009 8:12 AM

Mike James is bad, but so is Javaris. I think the difference between the two is that on occasion Mike James can hit a jumper or two. Javaris really has no distinguishable skill. He's really not that good as a defender and is a terrible shooter. He'll rarely, if ever, dress in my opinion. It's a shame EG gave up a future first for JC.

Posted by: ldecker | October 1, 2009 11:23 PM

Of all the less than flattering comments about JCrit, I have never seen one that sad that he was just plain bad.

Just what do you base that on?


Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | October 2, 2009 8:15 AM

We might have a situation where Gilbert starts the game to get the first team in a grove and get some points on the board, but he sits for major chunks of the game and Nick, Miller and other scorers are worked in fairly early, and Foye comes in or moves from the #2 to #1. Then, you bring Gilbert back for the fourth quarter. Would Gilbert accept that? Probably he would fight it. But what is reasonable is to hope his knee can make it through the season, but with a much reduced workload, and don't expect him to carry the team offensively, which isn't necessary anymore.

Posted by: jweber1 | October 2, 2009 8:20 AM

Javaris really has no distinguishable skill.

Wow! What a statement.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | October 2, 2009 8:35 AM

That's amazing: 25 pounds? How can a guy who plays guard in the NBA possibly carry 25 extra pounds. That is pathetic. However, I say great news for the Wiz b/c Mike James, with his expiring contract, will be serious trade bait come mid year.

DCMann, as for Grover, I think I recall M. Lee writing that Grover was invited to camp to impart on the Wiz training staff some of his rehab knowledge as it relates to Gil. And again, that is great news b/c we all know that the training staff could use the help.

Posted by: ZardsFan1 | October 2, 2009 8:36 AM

If Gil has been practicing, what's the point of pushing him in a scrimage? Not like the guy's in camp trying to play his way onto the team, or even into the rotation or the starting lineup.

He's healthy, he's the best player on the roster. If he's not, Grunfeld's made moves that will assure this is a least a decent playoff contending team without him.

Big point right now is to keep him healthy, if that requires a little extra rest and a little more monitoring in camp, the preseason, and into the first part of the year. Flip should do that.

I'd assume with Grover around, if there's been a real setback, they really would shut Gil down.

If he's got some typical second or third day in soreness, logic says that they backoff a little. A player with no injury history will just push himself through it. A guy coming off of three knee surgeries, smart think to do is play it a little conservative.

Reading some of these posts, I've got this image in my head of people streaming out of building and walking up Constitution Ave. to jump off of the bridge. They'll have to wait their turn and take a number, the Redskins fans got there first...

Posted by: flohrtv | October 2, 2009 9:16 AM

Those are soothing words, GM, and hopefully you are correct.

But given recent past history (i.e late last year when Gilbert played two games and was supposedly almost well and then we find out when he began work with Grover this summer, his left leg was anything but well), it leaves a lot of us a little skittish.

Posted by: cannontl | October 2, 2009 9:28 AM

To me it all comes down do you trust what the organization tells us?

Remember when George W. pushed weapons of mass destruction down congress’s throat and they never found any?

When it comes to making money I don’t trust any business in today’s world.

That’s the reason this country is in the shape it’s in.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | October 2, 2009 9:51 AM

"That's why we're losin the war in Iraq!!"

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | October 2, 2009 10:44 AM

Mike James = trade bait

Posted by: restonhoops | October 2, 2009 10:54 AM

The worst thing that you can possibly have is guys going all out in a scrimage while another player is trying protect an injury.

Smart coaches know that's the prime time to get somebody hurt. Better to hold a guy back then to send him out there at less then 100%.

Get used to Saunders doing little things to protect players. When he had Cassell playing on an aging set of knees I remember seeing him hold Sam back to protect his knees.

I think we'll see Gil protected some during the preseason and during the regular season too. They're going to try and ramp him up slowly if they're smart.

Posted by: flohrtv | October 2, 2009 11:07 AM

"Mike James = trade bait
Posted by: restonhoops"

Sure he is. But more because of his contract than his age or ability.

The Wiz already have his replacement: Randy Foye.

BTW the guy who says Crittenton has no skills is either a troll or blind. Probably the former.

Still, I don't know if there's a slot for Javaris on the new Wiz.

Posted by: Samson151 | October 2, 2009 11:41 AM

"Mike James = trade bait
Posted by: restonhoops"

If he makes an impression early in the reg. season he could end up going to a team that loses a starting PG and needs a back up.

Good trade bait for the Wizzies who are guard heavy.
That is "IF" their star PG has two good knees.
Then we'll be guard lite.

Posted by: VBFan | October 2, 2009 2:39 PM

I can see dc man smiling and jabbing his gilbert voodoo doll right now

Posted by: bford1kb | October 2, 2009 2:52 PM

MJ is a jorney man, he will continue to walk may be to europe as of next season.
He will never play defense at this age since he did not attempted it when he was young.I do not see his contribution in this team full of gards.

Posted by: gtefferra | October 2, 2009 3:24 PM

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