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Morning brew [Updated]

The Wizards have some time to get ready for Tuesday's game at Cleveland, and in Monday's Post, Michael Lee writes about the team's newfound depth and defensive intensity. In short, it's been refreshing to see the Wizards not have a huge dropoff when the latest injuries hit.

A couple of days old, but still relevant to the discussion that has been going on in the comments section: Mike Wise's piece on Andray Blatche's newfound, well, you see what's been going on with him. The numbers speak for themselves.

From the Washington Times: Tom Knott weighs in on the return of Arenas, and hope for the fans. And Mike Jones writes about the Wizards' improved defense.

No fresh Wizards' highlights, but here's NBA.com's Daily Zap covering Sunday's seven-game slate:

The Wizards face the Cavaliers on Tuesday just as point guard Mo Williams is starting to find his comfort zone with all of the new pieces. He's averaged 22 points in the past two wins.

Randy Foye and the Wizards were unable to agree on an extension, but Rajon Rondo and the Celtics agreed to a five-year, $55-million deal at the deadline. Still, it doesn't seem that Rondo and Chris Paul like each other very much . After the C's beat the Hornets on Friday, Rondo talked a little trash to Paul and Paul responded with a slight jab. "I think Rondo's a lucky guy to be able to play with a guy like Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and [Kevin Garnett], Rasheed Wallace."

Oh, and here's some Halloween leftovers, courtesy of NBA.com. During Saturday's Spurs-Kings game in San Antonio, Manu Ginobili shows us just how deft he is with that left hand, whacking a bat in mid-air. Yes, really. It's about the 52-second mark:

Here's more on Manu Ginobili's "batty" night in San Antonio. "When you can't dunk anymore, you've got to find some way to make it to the news," Ginobili said.

A few days after Halloween, David Stern faces his Freddy Krueger -- defamed former referee Tim Donaghy is about to be released from federal prison on Wednesday.

And finally...

It was revealed last week that the Lakers' Pau Gasol would do a guest turn on "CSI: Miami." It inspired one blogger, Stupid Sports Blog, to do an all-NBA version of David Caruso's corny one-liners that have become a signature on the show. And yes, choosing Caron Butler for the Wizards' representative was obvious, but that's the point.

By Ed Guzman  |  November 2, 2009; 8:52 AM ET
Categories:  Morning brew  
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Next: Trade with Minnesota looking good so far

Comments

Excuse me if I'm interrupting a gloatfest, but isn't it a little early? Has AB started some games I don't know about?

Posted by: Samson151 | November 2, 2009 8:39 AM |

Yes, it is a little early, and you have seen the same games, but extrapolating forward, predicting ahead, foretelling, is so good for the soul, especially if, we get it right.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | November 2, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

The Mike Wise comments above on Blatche are encouraging. Must know info, especially for those that have been quite critical of him.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | November 2, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

The SouthEast division is brutal! No "gimmes" in the bunch except maybe Charlotte.

Posted by: JohnWWW | November 2, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

From what I gather, it seems to me that most say "If AB keeps it up" or hoping that he stays consistant.

Posted by: millineumman | November 2, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

"Randy Foye and the Wizards were unable to agree on an extension"

??!! =( i'm freaking out. Foye is in his last year of his contract right? We won't sign him to an extension? I'd feel a lot better right now if we locked him up.

Posted by: rachel216 | November 2, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Looks like the key to the Cavs' improved performance isn't Mo Williams, it's West.

Posted by: Samson151 | November 2, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Foye is going to be a restricted free agent so more than likely, he's not going anywhere next season.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | November 2, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Foye is going to be a restricted free agent so more than likely, he's not going anywhere next season.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | November 2, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

I echo SMTDT's sentiments about Foye. As long as the Wizards tendered him for his 4th year, I BELIEVE he would be considred a restricted FA after this year. That said, it would have been better to lock him up early this year before his price tag increases given his play on a good team. I'd think a lot of Eastern conference teams would see him as a nice addition if he was on the market.

Posted by: wizfan89 | November 2, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Was'nt there a deadline of some sorts for the signing(s)? If indeed he (Foye) will be a restricted free agent,will it not cost a lot more then than now to sign him?

Posted by: bossclifnpooh2 | November 2, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Here is what it says on FanHouse:
"A source confirmed to FanHouse the deadline is expected to pass without Washington guard Randy Foye getting an deal done, but that has been expected for the past week."

Posted by: sagaliba | November 2, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

From the Times, "Saunders also has preached accountability and declared to his players that if they cannot defend, they won't see much playing time. Nick Young, who has strong offensive potential, has seen limited playing time because of a slowly developing grasp on the defensive end." and "Guys understand that if you don't play hard, you don't play defense, you're not going to play," Saunders said. "And when guys see a guy like DeShawn come in and he gives the effort he gave as far as pressuring the ball, that becomes contagious. And if you're not defending, not pressuring the ball, you kind of stick out like sore thumb."

This what we've needed once we got to the playoffs to advance to the next level... Flip is providing the coaching, leadership, and impetus for this. EJ was better than what we had for years and got us to one level but plateaued, and Flip hopefully will get us even further.

Posted by: TakinAWiz | November 2, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Was'nt there a deadline of some sorts for the signing(s)? If indeed he (Foye) will be a restricted free agent,will it not cost a lot more then than now to sign him?

Posted by: bossclifnpooh2

Not necessarily. It could go either way. The free agent market might offer him more than the Wiz offered or LESS. It's a gamble that both sides take. The Wiz have the ultimate trump card because they can match whatever offer sheet he signs. Personally, I'd rather not see the team bid against itself and then not have enough cash for BTH and Miller.

Posted by: Firuz1 | November 2, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Then it will be interesting to see AJ's play on defense when he gets back, or should I say Flip's reaction to AJ's defensive play when he gets back.

Posted by: cannontl | November 2, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

it would be nice to sign foye to an extension, but he has only played three games. it would be wise on our side to not offer a high contract, and it would be wise on his side to wait and prove himself over a season so that he can increase his value.

Posted by: crs-one | November 2, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

blatche has been playing extremely well defensively as well, especially defending the pick and roll....but even tho he is 7 day dray...he was at park nightclub sat. night...so looks like he still is gonna keep clubbin...haha

Posted by: jasonma1 | November 2, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Re: Foye -- since the salary cap is expected to go down next year, restricted free agents (which is what Foye will be) know they won't be getting the big paydays as in the past. He won't be breaking the bank.

Remember that Ernie doesn't know at this point how good Foye actually is. He's done well so far, but we're just into the season. He'll need time to gauge Foye's worth, and to see what the market for RFA's will be like -- and that won't be known until teams know what next year's cap is.

Posted by: keithward64 | November 2, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Many have written about Wizards limiting opponents' shooting percentage, but there is one more stat that is impressive: the assists per game (APG).

Wiz used to have a negative APG difference every season (i.e., less APG than the opponent). Now Wiz has a +4.3 in APG difference! Wiz did this by raising its own APG to 22, and by limiting opponent's APG to 17.7. Less assisted baskets means less scoring, another indication of their defensive improvement.

Posted by: sagaliba | November 2, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

The weekend discussion of "is Blatche the next Garnett or Malone" is a bit over the top. He's probably got a ways to go before he even becomes a starter, so lets slow down on the HOF talk.

But Flip and his Mom sure helped him find his confidence and determination. The kid's playing like he's comfortable with the pace of the game and he's letting shots come to him in the flow of the offense.

What's largely overlooked in the comments has been his work on D. Andray is really long for a 4 and he's got decent lateral quickness for a guy that big. He's blending & working well with both Haywood and Oberto, and when he's come in there's been no dropoff in the defense.

Some pooh-pahh'ed the idea that Oberto could be a mentor for Blatche and McGee. I've seen a noticable improvement in both of the young guys footwork. McGee's still quick to leave his feet and get himself out of postion. but the improvement from the start of last year is huge.

The improvement the use of their feet to gain leverage and force drivers to help has been noticable in Blatche and McGee. It could be coaching, peer pressure, mentoring, or slow absorbtion over time. But Oberto, Haywood and this coaching staff have made a difference in these guys.

But I've got agree with Larry, it's sure fun to watch a guy mature into what he can be. If the cards play out right, the Wiz could have a nice frontline combo in the a couple of years...
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | November 2, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

OK. You got me on that one, Samson151. It's still early to gloat but I seriously believe (and said last year) that AB is the most talented player on our roster overall in terms of potential. I believed he could reach that potential and I think now we're starting to see it realized.

Just think, we got this guy on the cheap locked up for years. His contract might be the best thing Ernie has done for this team.

He's been very active on defense and we're seeing the shotblocking ability that we saw from him a couple years ago.

This team has not had one of best players on the floor yet, one of our other others hurt and one of our best scorers (NY) has been ice cold. There are teams out there that DO NOT want to see us.

Posted by: original_mark | November 2, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

I still dont get the Oberto love but I like him more than DSong. At least he'll hit somebody and use his fouls. Since he gets 3 fouls in the first 5 minutes, why dont we just start AB and bring Oberto in later? Is Oberto softening the opponent up ? :)

He's the Tenderizer so all AB has to do is come in and cook 'em up.

Posted by: original_mark | November 2, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/dailydime?page=dime-091030-31

Eastern Conference

One of the season's early box-score stunners: Washington's Nick Young getting a DNP-CD at Dallas on opening night.

Young had a disappointing preseason keeping up with new coach Flip Saunders' system and suddenly has three established players in front of him -- Randy Foye, Mike Miller and DeShawn Stevenson -- in the race for minutes alongside returning hero Gilbert Arenas. It was widely assumed going in that Young would at least play ahead of Stevenson, but that assumption proved unfounded.

Which will inevitably get people wondering whether Young -- who has unquestioned offensive skill but a still ranks as a one-dimensional (and undependable) game at this stage of his career -- has a future with the Wiz.

We were advised, upon making our initial check here, that it would be premature and incorrect to presume that (A) Young can't eventually work his way into Flip Saunders' rotation or (B) he's automatically destined to be shopped by the Wiz. The Wizards, I'm told, still intend to pick up Young's option (but not Javaris Crittenton's) for the 2011-12 season before Monday's deadlne.

With all those vets in the way, though, Young is going to have to develop some dependability and maturity if he wants to play. Especially when the Wiz are trying to restore a sense of professionalism to their locker room after last season's early firing of Eddie Jordan and the unprofessionalism/anarchy that followed.

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 2, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I wouldn't start doling out too much credit to Oberto and Haywood for improvements in Blatche's game. Assuming it holds up (too early to tell) the biggest difference is mental and attitudinal, and that's not something that can really be taught. At some point the bulb comes on (or it doesn't). As for footwork, it was noted in a WaPost piece after the Nets game that the up and under move he used was taught to him by Sam Cassell. That's what coaches do.

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 2, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

As for Foye, I can see where both sides figured that a wait and see approach was best. The Wiz don''t know for sure what they've got in Fopye and Foye doesn't know for sure where the Wiz are headed. This is a proving ground for both of them.

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 2, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Keep in mind the salary cap I going down again. There will be a lot bigger FA's and not so many teams to bid on them. Restricted guys don't move as much because the offers tie up your money and the first team usually takes the full time to match. And you miss out on a week that you couldn't spent on anoter player.

I mean David Lee a young double double machine couldn't even get an offer. Then with the cap going down even more. It might run out to be a smart decision.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | November 2, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of Flip's "no defense, no PT" edict, I have to say I'm a bit surprised by Mike Miller's defense. No one is going to confuse him with Bruce Bowen anytime soon, but he's done a solid job fighting through screens and keeping contact with his man on defense.

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 2, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Randy Foye

At the time of the trade most people felt we were projecting Foye as the guard of the future. Miller was someone we would rent for a year, but not sign again because we would need the money to sign Foye and Haywood in the offseason.

Miller is a nice 1 year rental, but his salary (9M) is way too high from what I have seen.

Also, if we lose Haywood to free agency then we would need to sign another starting center. McGee is not up to the task (yet). If we try to go through an NBA season without a legitimate starting center... we are in for a world of pain.

I like Oberto, and was suprised by all the negative comments about him on this board this summer, but if he is our starting center next season things will not go well at all.

With Mike James and Mike Miller's expiring contracts (15M) I think we should be able to resign Foye and Haywood...

Posted by: MeviousMan | November 2, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I see all of the Blatche haters have turned into the "it's too early to tell" crowd.

Nevertheless, emotions aside, Blatche's maturation on and off the court is following a very traditional pattern. That is, he needs a few more years before reaching peak performance (which will be quite good).

Posted by: Izman | November 2, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't assume that Miller is a rental.

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 2, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Miller isnt going to make 9 million next years. Salaries are gonna drop for the most part almost all the way across the board. Just my opinion.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | November 2, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

IMO the most talented young guy on the Wiz roster has to be McGee. He could well be another season or two away, however. Players come out so young that the NBA is left in the position of having to do something the regular season is NOT designed to do, and that's develop and refine young talent.

I like Blatche but as his performance improves I would anticipate the defenses around the NBA to adjust to take away some of his opportunities. With Blatche, for instance, that might include forcing him into outside jumpers or taking away his preferred hand. So his production might drop off even as his overall game improved.

It ain't fair, but it's basketball.

I'm not down on Nick Young. He's just as talented as he was in the preseason, and if he avoid freelancing and get into a rhythm, I would expect those jump shots to start falling.

Posted by: Samson151 | November 2, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Miller is a nice 1 year rental, but his salary (9M) is way too high from what I have seen.

Posted by: MeviousMan

The fact that he makes $9M this year doesn't mean that he will in his future contract. The money's not out there like it used to be and I wouldn't be surprised if the Wiz could sign him for just over the mid-level exception.

Posted by: Firuz1 | November 2, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

"IMO the most talented young guy on the Wiz roster has to be McGee."

Agreed. He easily has the most raw physical ability and the highest ceiling of any of the young guys. But that can be both a blessing and a curse. A lot of times guys with that much physical talent rely entirely on their bodies and never really develop their game above the neck. That's really Young's main problem right now.

As for Miller, remember the Wiz hold the Bird (or early Bird) rights for all of their FAs to be, so they're in the driver's seat on re-signing them. It's just an issue of willingness to spend. If, after all the waiting and false starts, if this team shows the real signs of contending potential this year, I would think the necessary steps would be taken to keep them together long enough to finish the job.

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 2, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Flip's "no defense, no PT" edict, I have to say I'm a bit surprised by Mike Miller's defense. No one is going to confuse him with Bruce Bowen anytime soon, but he's done a solid job fighting through screens and keeping contact with his man on defense.

Posted by: kalo_rama

I wouldn't assume that Miller is a rental.

Posted by: kalo_rama

Agreed on both counts. Miller is not your typical perimeter shooter with no athleticism or lateral quickness. The guy is a solid 6'8" with great veteran savvy and knows how to play on both ends of the court. A high IQ guy who can help a team in so many ways without having a lot of weaknesses that teams can take advantage of. He also doesn't have a huge ego where he needs to start to be a contributor even though he could be ~ maybe the Ginobili view is gaining steam.

Here's hoping that Miller is much happier playing for a good team and settle for less than making more money on the crappier teams he's played for lately in his career.

Posted by: TakinAWiz | November 2, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

"I'm not down on Nick Young. He's just as talented as he was in the preseason, and if he avoid freelancing and get into a rhythm, I would expect those jump shots to start falling."

I caught the last five minutes of the replay of the Nets game last night. Blow out garbage time of course and Flip put Young into the game. Young forced a bad drive in the paint and next possession, laxidasically brought the ball up court and had it stolen from behind.
Could happen to anybody but it seems to happen to Young too often. His head is still not where it should be, particularly for a rather one dimensional sniper. When he gets into a game he's got to show something more than that.

Posted by: midlevex | November 2, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

How much it costs to re-sign Haywood will go a long way to determining where everything else falls, in terms of salaries.

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 2, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

original_mark,

Oberto is as good a passer if not better than Songaila. He does not have the mid-range jump(less) shots of Songaila's, but Blatche seems to have filled that requirement. Most importantly, Oberto is bigger, so he can defends the post better and able to finish the shot better when he roll to the basket. Oh yeah, and he is cheaper too. :)

Posted by: sagaliba | November 2, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

One other important factor in determining contracts next year is success. If this group exceeds expectations and make it to the Eastern Finals as opposed to a more conventional first round elimination, the metrics change on salary.

Posted by: midlevex | November 2, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

I doubt Oberto's that much bigger than Songaila. I think the thing that really makes the difference between them on defense is that Oberto appears to have better lateral movement. Not that he was ever a high flyer, but that Back surgery Songaila had a few years ago really took away what mobility he had.

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 2, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Judged by the market, Miller's salary next year should drop, together with the departure of Mike James, should be enough to cover the increase of Haywood and Foy.

The question is, who are you going to bring in to replace Oberto, at what salary level? Even if you resign Oberto, is he willing to take the same money? (Pistons is paying 2 mill to Oberto this year)

I don't think Wiz will have problem to maintain this year's salary level, the problem is, the cap for next year will drop.

Posted by: sagaliba | November 2, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

I caught the last five minutes of the replay of the Nets game last night. Blow out garbage time of course and Flip put Young into the game. Young forced a bad drive in the paint and next possession, laxidasically brought the ball up court and had it stolen from behind.
Could happen to anybody but it seems to happen to Young too often. His head is still not where it should be, particularly for a rather one dimensional sniper. When he gets into a game he's got to show something more than that.

Posted by: midlevex


--------------------------------------------

Compare that to Foye, who is being lauded by Flip for coming to a new team, learning two positions and excelling.

At some point, we may have to come to the realization that Nick's already operating at his full mental capacity and is not an NBA-caliber player, despite his one rather noteworthy NBA-caliber skill.

Posted by: Firuz1 | November 2, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

I like Miller's rebounding. As for his defense, he seems to pick up fouls too easy.

BTW, while I appreciate his passing skill, I would like to see him look for his shot more.

Posted by: sagaliba | November 2, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Assuming it holds up (too early to tell) the biggest difference is mental and attitudinal, and that's not something that can really be taught. At some point the bulb comes on (or it doesn't).

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 2, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Absolutely!!!

Posted by: bpybay | November 2, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

I like Miller's rebounding. As for his defense, he seems to pick up fouls too easy.

BTW, while I appreciate his passing skill, I would like to see him look for his shot more.

Posted by: sagaliba | November 2, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

No and yes.

Refs, for some odd reason, seem to be picking on MM. A few of the fouls that have been called have been phantom fouls. I think once the refs review tape, those calls will go away.

As far as him needing to shoot more, I've been saying that since preseason. No matter how great a shooter you are, if you refuse to shoot the ball, then you're not a threat to shoot the ball and defenses can sag off you.

Posted by: bpybay | November 2, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

"I doubt Oberto's that much bigger than Songaila."

When you play near the basket, the difference between 6'10" and 6'8"* can be significant. (We can ignore the leaping ability since neither of them is a leaper.) I've always felt that if Songaila were 2 inches taller, he would have been better able to perform what EJ (and ET) had often asked him to do – playing center for Wizards!

* Songiala was listed at 6'8" before coming to the Wizards, there is no way he gained an inch after back surgery. :)

Posted by: sagaliba | November 2, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Songaila is listed at 6' 9" at NBA.com, ESPN.com, and SI.com. Oberto is listed at 6' 10. So even assuming the listings are accurate (which they never are) the difference isn't that great. Moreover, my point wasn't based on their listed heights but on actually seeing them on the floor in comparison to other players.

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 2, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

So, if was listed at 6'8" before, then apparently you can grow an inch after back surgery.

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 2, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Songaila was measured at 6'8" w/o shoes and 6'9.5" with shoes prior to his 2002 draft.
http://www.draftexpress.com/nba-pre-draft-measurements/?page=&year=2002&sort2=DESC&draft=0&pos=0&sort=

Regardless, Oberto does look a bit bigger and stronger who moves much better laterally than Songaila. That's where his annoying physical defense is most effective.

Posted by: TakinAWiz | November 2, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

"So, if was listed at 6'8" before, then apparently you can grow an inch after back surgery."

As you said, they are never accurate. Probbaly more due to the fact that Wizards need him to "look big" to play center than the magical back sugery. :)
FYI: http://web.archive.org/web/20050507101838/http://www.nba.com/playerfile/darius_songaila/index.html

And yes, the reason I said Oberto is bigger is not just by the number either, it is by my observation.

Posted by: sagaliba | November 2, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: sagaliba | November 2, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

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