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Morning brew

In this morning's newspaper, Josh Barr (pinch-hitting for Michael Lee, who had a day off) reports on how the Wizards are counting on Andray Blatche and Fabricio Oberto, and for this blog, on Javaris Crittenton's exploratory surgery.

* Mike Jones writes for the Washington Times that the season opener provided clarity on the rotation. And columnist Tom Knott says there's no defense for the Cavaliers' slow start.

* From Bullets Forever, here's Mike Prada's report from yesterday's practice.

* Truth About It presents videos of Flip Saunders, Antawn Jamison, Lindsay Czarniak and Irene Pollin, plus Andray Blatche.

* And here's a position by position breakdown of the Wizards by DC Sports Box.

By Alexa Steele  |  October 30, 2009; 9:34 AM ET
Categories:  Morning brew  
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Next: The Other Side: Atlanta Hawks

Comments

Knott makes it sound like O'Neal is not a good fit for the Cavs on offense or, more importantly, on defense.

Posted by: cannontl | October 30, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

"Blair may prove to be the jem of the 2nd round picks in the 2009 draft, but I can't fault Ernie for taking the money so we'd have enough cash to sign Oberto."
-------------------------------------------

Well, yes or no. I guess you are talking about the 2 millions that we sold the 2nd rd draft for.

But we ended up signing Paul Davis to make up the PF depth, which we would not have to if we have Blair. Since veteran's minimum is more than 2nd round rookie salary, and since we have to double the difference due to luxury tax, the money we actually saved isn't much.

Consider Wiz have to pay a quarter million for Gil not talking, while irreverent, it puts this so-called saving quite minuscule in the grand scheme of things.

Posted by: sagaliba | October 30, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone know if the Wizards have offered Foye a contract extension, or if Crittenton's fourth year option is going to be picked up?

Posted by: djnnnou | October 30, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Saw an interesting comment on Blair on a Pitt blog the other day. Don't know if it's accurate, but allegedly the Pitt coaches wanted DeJuan to return for another run at a title. Blair's people, the story goes, were afraid that he'd get hurt if he stayed. So he went pro, figuring that he needed to take the money now, even if it was only second round $$, because the risk of injury was just too great.

Don't know what I think of the above. I'm sure he took out an insurance policy like most potential pros. Wouldn't that have covered his financial worries? Of course, surgery is expensive...

Posted by: Samson151 | October 30, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Since they are not in negotiation, don't think an extension for Foye can be worked out by next Monday. He will be a restricted FA, and Wiz will still hold his right. So unless someone is willing to overpay him (to prevent Wiz from matching), and judged by David Lee and Nate Robinson's situation, it should not be hard for Wiz to sign him to a deal if deemed fits.

Posted by: sagaliba | October 30, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Man, Richard Jefferson looked old. In 2 games, he didn't show the athleticism that Spurs was looking for. Last night he was even blocked from behind by Derrick Rose, a player 4 inches shorter. Worse, his shots weren't falling either.

If he continues to play like this for the whole season, he will be the bust of 2009 offseason trades.

Posted by: sagaliba | October 30, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I know we're two games in to the season, but Cleveland has a fatal flaw and it's their offense. Boston figured them out two years ago and Orlando figured them out last year. Just make LeBron go 1 on 5 - which is the Cavs offense. Just having James carry you might win you some games in the regular season, but it's not going to help you win 4 out of 7 against a good team. I don't even know if they have a playbook - outside of "give it to LeBron on the wing."

Posted by: MBUSA | October 30, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Samson, I doubt that the concern on Blair's side was really the cost of surgery. The issue was more likely: if he stayed in college another year and got hurt, how that injury (on top of the existing concerns about his knees and weight) might affect his draft status.

Speaking of Blair, saw this on espn.com

Blair's Learning Curve
By Graydon Gordian
TrueHoop Network

The hype surrounding DeJuan Blair reached a fever pitch after the rookie scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in his pro debut against the Hornets on Wednesday. After Thursday's loss to the Bulls, fans' expectations for Blair may have come back down to Earth.

Before we collectively overreact in the opposite direction, let's be clear: six points and four rebounds in 12 minutes is a respectable line for a guy who has played a grand total of two NBA games. But the exuberance Spurs' fans felt after his line on opening night masked some of the weaknesses that were more easily identifiable this evening. And by weaknesses, I am primarily referring to his defense.

Before the game, Gregg Popovich said every aspect of Blair's game except rebounding needs improvement. And, like nearly every aspect of his game except rebounding, he is far from his ceiling as a defender. He has a preternatural sense of spacing that lends itself to the complicated rotation defenses Popovich require. And he has the core body strength to be physical without being foul prone.

But as things currently stand, he is both physical and foul prone. He plays far too much defense with his hands, and far too little with his feet and chest. His unbelievably long reach only exacerbates the problem. Once he commits himself to the necessity of lateral movement, his length will be an asset. Currently, his 7' 3" wingspan serves as a crutch.

Certainly Blair's defensive struggles aren't for lack of effort. If anything, a more tempered approach might do the rookie some good.

Posted by: kalo_rama | October 30, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Like Cannonti, I found Knott's comments on Cleveland interesting. We already know that BH drives Ilgauskas nuts; now we're hearing about O'Neal's diminishing commitment to defensive movement -- and here we sit with AB apparently feeling like a happy camper and with the huge addition of FO. Could be interesting.

Posted by: WilliamCarr | October 30, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Saw an interesting comment on Blair on a Pitt blog the other day. Don't know if it's accurate, but allegedly the Pitt coaches wanted DeJuan to return for another run at a title. Blair's people, the story goes, were afraid that he'd get hurt if he stayed. So he went pro, figuring that he needed to take the money now, even if it was only second round $$, because the risk of injury was just too great.

Don't know what I think of the above. I'm sure he took out an insurance policy like most potential pros. Wouldn't that have covered his financial worries? Of course, surgery is expensive...

Posted by: Samson151
------------------------------------------

The 2nd round rookie salary is not guaranteed until he made the roster. And even that, it is only for 1 year, and the rest are team options. So the risk for team is very low.

As for Blair, of course any surgery would be covered. Don't know about the lose of income insurance given his medical history.

Posted by: sagaliba | October 30, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Samson151

Blair's people insisted on a guaranteed contract with the Spurs even though he was drafted in the second round. The Spurs relented and gave him guaranteed money. Also, they paid him higher than his draft position warranted.

Posted by: MeviousMan | October 30, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

By the way, the Spurs looked terrribly old last night. I thought they were going to seriously contend with LA in the west... Guess I was wrong on that one...

Posted by: MeviousMan | October 30, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

It's only two games into the season, way too early to make season-defining judgments. The Spurs and Cavs are trying to integrate a lot of new pieces. It'll take time before they're all on the same page.

Posted by: kalo_rama | October 30, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Article on Blair's contract:

Terms of the deal were not immediately known, but according to a source familiar with the negotiations, Blair signed a four-year contract worth almost $4 million dollars. Three of those years are guaranteed with guaranteed money approaching $3 million.

Only first-round draft picks in the NBA receive guaranteed contracts, but Blair's agent, Happy Walters, delivered on his promise that he made the day after the draft that Blair would receive guaranteed money.

"He's getting paid a lot more than a lot of first-round picks are getting paid," Walters said last night. "He's getting paid like he was drafted in the [late first round]. He's happy and relieved that it's done."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09198/984532-142.stm

Posted by: MeviousMan | October 30, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

"I'm sure he took out an insurance policy like most potential pros. Wouldn't that have covered his financial worries? Of course, surgery is expensive..."

I dont think those polices kick in unless you claim a career ending injury. So if he went out, he'd have to do full rehab for a year or whatever then have doctors declare he is physically unable to play in the nba.

Worst case scenario, docs say he can play but no team wants him. No contract and no insurance money

Posted by: divi3 | October 30, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

"He's getting paid a lot more than a lot of first-round picks are getting paid," Walters said last night. "He's getting paid like he was drafted in the [late first round]. He's happy and relieved that it's done."

Wow. Looks like the Spurs really wanted Blair on the court this season.

Posted by: Firuz1 | October 30, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

What happened to the Big 3? I don't mean Gil, Caron, and Antawn. I mean Boston, Orlando, and Cleveland. Those f--ki-g experts that annointed LeBron and Shaq as one of the top 3 teams in the east.

I said all along that that Big 3 was overrated and washington, toronto, etc were underrated. Everybody in here were saying that the wizards didnt do anything to keep up. You are some fake wizard fans. Yes, after only 2 or 3 fans y'all are being called out as fake. Cleveland is already trying to get help while y'all were saying how cheap is. It is being proved that y'all don't know basketball!

Posted by: G-Man11 | October 30, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

"Wow. Looks like the Spurs really wanted Blair on the court this season. Posted by: Firuz1"

It doesn't make a lot of sense. They give him guaranteed money with a medical liability hanging over their heads?

Posted by: Samson151 | October 30, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

"By the way, the Spurs looked terrribly old last night."

Agreed, and the biggest disappointment is Richard Jefferson, who is supposed to provide athleticism for the aging Spurs. But he didn't drive inside, and just stayed outside to shoot his clunkers ("clunk" off the rim). The only time he went inside, he was blocked by Derrick Rose, who is 4 inches shorter.

Posted by: sagaliba | October 30, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

"It doesn't make a lot of sense. They give him guaranteed money with a medical liability hanging over their heads?"

The financial risk to the Spurs is minimal, really. First, the amount of guaranteed money (assuming the article is accurate) is pretty minor by NBA standards. Second, if Blair's knee situation does end up resulting in him being physically unable to fulfill his contract, insurance will cover the cost of his salary.

Posted by: kalo_rama | October 30, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

"Wow. Looks like the Spurs really wanted Blair on the court this season."

Wow indded. They must have really liked him, as Balir really wasn't in much a position to bargain (only other option would be to go overseas).

Posted by: sagaliba | October 30, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

"Agreed, and the biggest disappointment is Richard Jefferson, who is supposed to provide athleticism for the aging Spurs. But he didn't drive inside, and just stayed outside to shoot his clunkers ("clunk" off the rim). The only time he went inside, he was blocked by Derrick Rose, who is 4 inches shorter."

Posted by: sagaliba

Maybe he's weighed down by the bad karma stemming from (alledgedly) leaving his bride-to-be at the altar 2hrs before they were supposed to get married this summer. I'm just sayin'...(LOL).

Posted by: Firuz1 | October 30, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

if Blair's knee situation does end up resulting in him being physically unable to fulfill his contract, insurance will cover the cost of his salary.

Posted by: kalo_rama
-----------------------------------------

The risk is, the injury may render him to be in the "limbo" state (i.e., he can still play basketball but not well enough to be of any consequence on a professional team). Insurance would only cover if he cannot play basketball, but not on how well he performs (otherwise we could have bought insurance for Kwame Brown, LOL).

Posted by: sagaliba | October 30, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

It's only two games into the season, way too early to make season-defining judgments.

Posted by: kalo_rama | October 30, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

. . . about teams, or about rookies, such as the oft-mentioned Mr. Blair. Maybe he will turn out to be a tremendous player, in which case I'll probably agree that the Wizards should have drafted him instead of selling the pick. Maybe he won't. But a 265 lb. (at least) guy with no ACLs playing in the NBA, with all the pounding that players' joints have to endure during 82+ games and I-don't-know-how-many practices, doesn't inspire a lot of confidence that he will have a lengthy career.

Posted by: rbpalmer | October 30, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Anyone want to make a prediction on how AB plays tonight?

I am hoping it is something like this:
Pts - 18
Rbs - 11
Asts - 3
Blks -2
steals -1
TOs - 2

But afraid it could be like this:
Pts - 5
Rbs - 3
Asts - 1
Blks - 1
steals - 0
TOs - 6
fouls - 5 in 14 minutes

Hoping he is a credible, consistent player now.

Posted by: Blurred | October 30, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

@ Blurred

Hawks have a pretty solid front line, but I think his stats will be closer to 18 and 11 than 5 and 3.

Posted by: MBUSA | October 30, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

"The risk is, the injury may render him to be in the "limbo" state (i.e., he can still play basketball but not well enough to be of any consequence on a professional team)."

And, as I said, given the relatively small amount of guaranteed money involved (reportedly a total of $3 mill spread out over three years) that's a very minor financial gamble on the part of the Spurs.

Posted by: kalo_rama | October 30, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

"Maybe he will turn out to be a tremendous player, in which case I'll probably agree that the Wizards should have drafted him instead of selling the pick. Maybe he won't. But a 265 lb. (at least) guy with no ACLs playing in the NBA, with all the pounding that players' joints have to endure during 82+ games and I-don't-know-how-many practices, doesn't inspire a lot of confidence that he will have a lengthy career. "

Even if he does turn out to be a solid role player and has a lengthy career, I won't have any problem with the Wizards not drafting him. Now if he turns out to be a big-time big-impact player right out of the gate, then it's a different story. But I don't see that happening. The Wizards already have enough young guys in the pot waiting to boil. They didn't need to add any more raw meat to the stew. The Spurs, on the other hand, were in serious need of some younger blood in their mix.

Posted by: kalo_rama | October 30, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

And, as I said, given the relatively small amount of guaranteed money involved (reportedly a total of $3 mill spread out over three years) that's a very minor financial gamble on the part of the Spurs.

Posted by: kalo_rama
------------------------------------------

And, as you still didn't realize, it is not strictly the salary, it is the cap implication, as Spurs and many other teams are already paying the luxury tax. So it is 6 millions in 3 yrs, plus they may not use that money for other players if they need to.

The question is, why commit if you don't have to? Spurs could have gone by NBA rules, and just hold his options, essentially locking him up for 3 yrs but without commitment.

Posted by: sagaliba | October 30, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

"And, as you still didn't realize, it is not strictly the salary, it is the cap implication "

And, as was pretty clearly implied in my previous responses, the cap implications of Blair's relatively small salary are pretty minor when compared to the potential benefit of getting a productive player at a position of need for such a small amount (and even doubled by the luxury tax, Blair's salary is still small by NBA standards). As for them supposedly not being able "to use that money for other players if they need to" . . . untrue. Since (A) they were already over the cap and (B) Blair was their own draft pick, signing him to a deal of any kind doesn't affect the availability of FA resources (beyond its potential affect on their willingness to spend). They'll still have whatever exceptions are available to them to spend on FAs if they want (although I'm pretty sure they already used the MLE on McDyess). Llike every other team in the NBA, if they're over the luxury threshold they'll have to pay the tax. But given that they're currently about $10 mill over the tax threshold, that would be the case even if they didn't have Blair's $1 mill (or $2 mill, if you prefer) on the books.

The Spurs have money to spend. They're a team that has had tremendous success over the past decade, all the while operating under an admirable level of fiscal austerity (having never before come even close to the luxury tax, and often maintaining one of the lower payrolls in the league while staying in contention). They've got some bank to burn.

Is it a risk? Yes. But, as I've said,it's a small risk whose upside exceeds the downside for a team like the Spurs.

Posted by: kalo_rama | October 30, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

"The question is, why commit if you don't have to?"

I doubt this is the first time a team has given a guaranteed deal to a 2nd round pick. If a team thinks a guy is a keeper and wants to avoid potential FA drama and negotiating missteps down the line, making a relatively minor guaranteed upfront investment can help avoid headaches down the road.

And, if Blair's knees do hold up and he does pan out, this move could potentially save them considerable money down the line, as they get two more years out of him at this lower rate, rather than having to renegotiate a new contract after year two at a higher one.

Posted by: kalo_rama | October 30, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I doubt this is the first time a team has given a guaranteed deal to a 2nd round pick. If a team thinks a guy is a keeper and wants to avoid potential FA drama and negotiating missteps down the line, making a relatively minor guaranteed upfront investment can help avoid headaches down the road.

And, if Blair's knees do hold up and he does pan out, this move could potentially save them considerable money down the line, as they get two more years out of him at this lower rate, rather than having to renegotiate a new contract after year two at a higher one.

Yep...look no further than how the Wizards ended up with Gil. 2nd round picks can play themselves into big money quicker than 1st round picks.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | October 30, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Also liked Jones article on the Wiz in the Times this morning.

It looks like Javale may get some PT tonight against Atlanta (i.e. a good deal more than 42 seconds). Apparently he had a very good practice and Saunders seems to see him as a good matchup against the athletic Hawks.

Also, Saunders seemed to take note that Young reacted the right way to not playing in the first game (he played in all 82 last year). He worked hard and did extra things in practice. Could Young be maturing a little bit?

Posted by: cannontl | October 30, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

"And, if Blair's knees do hold up and he does pan out, this move could potentially save them considerable money down the line, as they get two more years out of him at this lower rate, rather than having to renegotiate a new contract after year two at a higher one."

Posted by: kalo_rama

I remember Ernie Grunfeld did a similar guaranteed-money-for-more-years contract (team options, I think) for 2d-round pick Peter John Ramos, but, unlike Blair's situation, I don't think Ernie gave him a higher than usual salary for a second rounder or three guaranteed years. Admittedly, PJR came straight from high school and Blair proved himself in the Big East, which any agent, even if his name is Happy, would assert makes a difference.
His contract numbers (dollars and years) really suggest to me that Blair was a guy that the Spurs almost felt like they had to have now. We can all speculate on the reason(s) why, but my best guess is the Spurs realize that Duncan and Ginobili are not getting any younger and their window of opportunity may be starting to close.

Posted by: Firuz1 | October 30, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

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