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Thornton arrives, Howard responds to "partying" report

Al Thornton arrived in Washington around 2 a.m. on Friday. As he rode to the Wizards morning walkthrough and saw the District still buried under mounds of snow, he quickly realized that he wasn't in Los Angeles anymore.

"I got used to that LA weather," Thornton said with a smile. "Spoiled me a little bit."

Being a member of the Los Angeles Clippers certainly didn't spoil him to winning, so the adjustment to playing for the Wizards this season might not be too difficult. And, in some ways, the opportunity to come to Washington presents a better situation for him.

Thornton lost his starting job to Rasual Butler, he suffered an ankle injury and he responded with some inconsistent performances this season. He is averaging a career-low 10.7 points in 27.5 minutes per game and he became expendable after the Clippers acquired Travis Outlaw from Portland in the Marcus Camby deal. It also is a considerable drop from last season, when Thornton averaged 16.8 points and starting 67 games.

"It's a fresh start," Thornton said. "I think I was having a down year with the Clips and I think I'll be able to redirect my career. I just think they were trying to go in a different direction and we didn't meet eye-to-eye. Like I said, this is a good situation."

Coach Flip Saunders said he expected to have Thornton for tonight's game against Denver. Thornton watched the morning walkthrough but did not because Zydrunas Ilgauskas had yet to arrive and take his physical. Ilgauskas had a lot to say about his trade from the Cavaliers in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. Among other things, he said, "Right now I'm a Wizard. I think eventually they'll let me go, but that's just my guess.").

Saunders plans to bring him off the bench behind Andray Blatche or Josh Howard, whom Saunders said will start and get the defensive assignment against Nuggets all-star Carmelo Anthony.

Thornton, a former member of the all-rookie team, is the second reclamation project on the Wizards, joining former all-star Howard. The Wizards thought highly of Thornton in the 2007 NBA draft, when he went two spots ahead of Nick Young. Detroit took Rodney Stuckey between them, but Saunders said he remembers that the Pistons didn't know which way to lean on draft night.

"I've always liked Al," Saunders said. "We never thought he would drop that far and he kept on dropping. He's a guy that can play the [small forward], can play the [power forward]. Very dynamic scorer. What I like about him is he really competes. When he was in the draft workouts, everywhere he went the thing everyone talked about was that he played harder than anybody he played against. I think he is going to fit in with what we are trying to do."

Thornton, 26, said he understands that Washington is in rebuilding mode, but he has no problem with that situation. "I think they are trying to go in another direction, trying to rebuild and I'm happy to be a part of that," he said. "Of course is going to be tough. The season isn't going the way they want it. I feel like they have a young group here and if we continue to play hard we'll be okay."

The Dallas Morning News reported on Friday that new Wizard Josh Howard sat out the Mavericks game in Washington on Jan. 20 because he hadn't recovered from a night of partying rather than the stomach illness announced by the team. The newspaper wrote "sources said team officals could not deny that it was a self-inflicted game off."

After the Wizards defeated Minnesota on Wednesday, Howard said he would like to "stick it to" the Mavericks. But when asked about the story, he said, "I'll just leave it alone. I know it's not true."

He said excessive partying the night before was not the reason he missed the game. "I was sick and that was it," Howard said. "I don't know where that is coming from and it's sad they are trying to talk about me the way they are. That was over a month ago. It's amazing how stuff is coming up like this now and I'm not even there. But I know I didn't do anything and it's time to move on."

Howard did have some good news on Friday. After the trade of Dominic McGuire on Thursday, he is allowed to go back to wearing his familiar No. 5, which is stitched in his signature Jordan Brand shoes.

By Michael Lee  |  February 19, 2010; 2:27 PM ET
 
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Next: Ilgauskas is inactive, Thornton available and Howard starts

Comments

The best thing Howard can do is play hard the rest of the season and keep his nose clean. I'd hate to think we just traded for the next Rod Strickland, but then again, I think the Wizards are highly unlikely to pick up the team option on his contract.

Posted by: artiesliver | February 19, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Will AB drop a 7pt/4reb stinker tonight as he has so many times in the past? Or is now finally "his time" as the goofy commercial says, and will we get a strong performance?

Huge void now, this the perfect scenario for AB to finally do it and there's no excuse other than "not good enough" for him to fall short at this point.

Posted by: divi3 | February 19, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I like Al. I think he'll do fine in the Wiz uniform. I'm a bit surprised the Clips let him go but oh well...at least we got something in return. Lets start all over with getting rid of the VERY UGLY Wizards uniform...time for a change. Lets go with the red/white/dark blue like the Caps and the Nats.

Posted by: ttn703 | February 19, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Ernie actually did well to pick up Thornton, who could be part of the rebuilding process. Seems like Thornton, Blatche, Foye and McGee should be the young players to hold onto. Maybe Wiz can package some of the three draft picks they will have between 30-37 slots and move up a little.

Posted by: travisloop | February 19, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Agree that it's time to change the uniforms as part of starting over and that red, white and blue is the way to go. Now only if the name changed too...

Posted by: travisloop | February 19, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I just want to see someone play hard.

Win or lose, I just hope they play hard until the game is over.

It was very much appreciated the other night, they could have easily called that one in but they didn't.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | February 19, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

I really like the idea of changing to colors to red/white/blue and also changing the name that represents the Nations Capitol - like the Nats and Caps. Like Metro---- or Nations----- or the DC somthing.

Posted by: HardCoreFan | February 19, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Thorton can score. I am not sure why the Clippers gave up on him.

I am going to miss Dominic. He always played hard when given the chance and provided some much needed defense and rebounding.

Young, Blatche, McGhee, Thorton, Foye isn't a bad group of young players. I am not sure if Flip's offense is right for these players who like to create for themselves.

Posted by: tmh32 | February 19, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

can we start a REAL petition or something for the name change. the fans deserve something after all of this. the past two years have been hell, and honestly if you're under 35 you never got to see the bullets that were a playoff fixture. we should start a petition just for name change and adoption of red,white, and blue color scheme. i'll take Bullets back too if the new owner goes for that, but i'm all for another name contest as long as the name doesn't suck.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | February 19, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I agree with all but not sure if foye is the right person to run this team.I do not think the coach is also happy about him.I do not think it is fair to yank him and NY out any more every time they make mistake, the coach need to be a little tolerant and put his final evaluation for next year.
I do not see any problem to pick Howards contract and/or sign him a long term contract if his attitude is to play and show the world what he can do.

Posted by: gtefferra | February 19, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Here's Gilbert's penance: he has to stay a Wizard til the end of his contract.

What about a new Big Three of Howard, Thornton, and Arenas?

Posted by: Samson151 | February 19, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

As to the reason why Thornton, Telfair and Camby were moved, according to the LA Times, The Clippers are planning to make a run at, get this, LeBron James! Despite the fact the Cleveland is adding salaries to keep him and that New York and New Jersey have both also cleared cap room for the same reason.

Posted by: bozomoeman | February 19, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

I don't think you wanna keep changing names every 10 years or so. Not a good look. We should change the uniforms though.

Posted by: thecomedian1 | February 19, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

So is Z going to put on a WIZARDS uniform, or are we going to discipline him for the refusal to do so? I'm sure the brass and he are hashing this out as we speak. I want to see him on the floor tonight. Dammit, we gave up a good player for his sorry ass. Notice I didn't say great.

Posted by: glawrence007 | February 19, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Blah, blah, blah.

You said Abe's "legacy" would be that he never went over the "luxury cap" (Jesus, you can't even get something that simple right) and then, in the very next breath, you castigate his heirs for dumping salary for the sole purpose of . . . getting below the luxury tax, the very same thing you claimed his "legacy" would damn him for having never done in the first place.

Congrats. You have accomplished the nigh-anatomically impossible feat of talking out of three different sides of your mouth at the same time.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 19, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Apology accepted

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | February 19, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

"What about a new Big Three of Howard, Thornton, and Arenas?

Posted by: Samson151"

Thornton as the new Larry Hughes/Caron Butler seemingly out of nowhere guy? I like it.

Don't forget, it's likely we get a nice little draft pick this coming offseason. Sometimes, all it takes is hitting on that selection.

Arenas/Thornton/Soon to be selected perennial All-NBA stud?

I like that one better.

Posted by: psps23 | February 19, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Z can keep his fat a$$ in street clothes as far as I'm concerned....no reason to play him at the expense of PT for mcgee right?

Posted by: divi3 | February 19, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

So I'm a little hazy on the positions these new guys will play. ZYDRUNAS ILGAUSKAS at five if he ever shows, JAMES SINGLETON at four, AL THORNTON at three, QUINTON ROSS at three,

Posted by: glawrence007 | February 19, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

I knew the way things unfolded through the trade deadline, that Gil would be welcomed back again next year. And I'm thrilled for it. Come back Gil, stay healthy, be laser focused and lead the new team to success. I know some out there hold a grudge against Gil for his thoughtless gunplay, but lets not be so quick to forget all that he has done as a Wizard community member over the years. Don't be quick to forget his years of donating a hundred bucks a point to local schools for every game (which the Pollins matched). Don't forget how Gil would play ball on local courts with every day Joe's and ballers. Come back Gil, DC still loves ya!!

Posted by: herbalist1 | February 19, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Notice I didn't say great.

Posted by: glawrence007

AJ is now starting for the best team in the league, they too must have been fooled by all his "lucky" rebounds!

Posted by: divi3 | February 19, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I don't want another "Big 3" I want "Team Play" Let's not go back to old stuff let's go forward with some new stuff. I really loved our guys but they are gone so let's move on. This is a new day and the coming of a new team!

Posted by: HardCoreFan | February 19, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

divi3:

Correct regarding Z. I just don't want us paying HIM because he doesn't want to be here by buying him out like JAMES is attempting to do. He can take the rest of the season off for all I care. I don't want him paid however. We don't need to be concerned about him being a cancer on the bench. We've had plenty of that this season already.

Posted by: glawrence007 | February 19, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

divi3:

I'll notice when JAMISON consistantly improves their defense. We all know he can play offense. I'm sure the CAVS are thinking SHAQ can cover for his azz on that end. Something our guys weren't able to do well most games although HAYWOOD was at least adequate in that quarter.

Posted by: glawrence007 | February 19, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

So when AJ was traded, do Ferry and EG have a genteleman's agreement that Z will be bought out and allowed to return? Clearly it cant be in writing, but it's widely reported as fact.

Before releasing Z, EG should force Ferry to issue a statement saying "There is no such thing as a crabdribble and if it's your signature move then your nickname should be 'Travel'"

Posted by: divi3 | February 19, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

divi3:

I'd buy that for a dollar. LOL. Good 'un.

Posted by: glawrence007 | February 19, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

"Apology accepted

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | February 19, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Just out of curiosity, is the corner where you buy your crack anywhere near where Blatche picks up his "ladies"? If so, that would explain a lot.

Of course, not even crack explains why you think that you can get away with ripping the Pollins for never going over the luxury tax while, at the same time, ripping them for shedding salary to get below it.

Posted by: kalo_rama | February 19, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Oops, bulletsfan78. You didn't really do that did you?

Posted by: glawrence007 | February 19, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Before releasing Z, EG should force Ferry to issue a statement saying "There is no such thing as a crabdribble and if it's your signature move then your nickname should be 'Travel'"

LOL!

Posted by: jimwest20 | February 19, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Prediction:
- Uncle Ted buys the Wiz
- Ted changes the name back to the 'Bullets'
- Bullets void Arenas' contract
- Bullets keep Z
- At the end of the season they pick up Lebron James

It could happen.


Posted by: wiz_fan | February 19, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

don't want another "Big 3" I want "Team Play" Let's not go back to old stuff let's go forward with some new stuff. I really loved our guys but they are gone so let's move on. This is a new day and the coming of a new team!

Posted by: HardCoreFan | February 19, 2010 4:44 PM

AMEN!
Let's have a Medium Large 5 that works harder than anybody else. Then when they get beat I won't feel it as much as the big 3 & brendan & Deshone stinking it up.

Posted by: VBFan | February 19, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

I'm waiting on Gil to come back also. I believe he will be focused from now on and he definitely learned his lesson and no more prankster stuff from him. If we can get J. Howard with his controversy (seems like Dallas thinks he's not the best character) why not stick with our guy Gil!

Posted by: washwiz | February 19, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Different topic, but i couldnt stand seeing Jamison sitting in the Cavs owner's box last night and then on their sideline...sheesh.

Posted by: washwiz | February 19, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

anybody read the espn article about grunfeld bringing gil back next year?

wrote a song about it, like to here it? here it go
http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=4926337

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | February 19, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Different topic, but i couldnt stand seeing Jamison sitting in the Cavs owner's box last night and then on their sideline...sheesh.

Posted by: washwiz | February 19, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

don't you worry your pretty lil head. AJ wasn't trippin off us last night, trust me. he was watchin THA KANG like," and lilhollywood10 says i Be jacking the 3 early in the shot clock..............damn"

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | February 19, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

"How do you like Ernie Grunfeld now?

I told you he was as smart as three GMs combined and now he has proven it. Not that many of you deserve it, with your incessant second-guessing, but the future for your Wizards is bright.

Enjoy what Ernie has done and prepare to embrace his next moves!

Posted by: melodious_thunk | February 18, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse "

Talk about short sighted.

EG just got rid of a ton of players that he brought to DC and signed for big money.

In turn, he got a lot of expiring contracts, unproven/underachieving players, and draft picks.

Most of those draft picks will be traded for cash based on history.

EG's history with players selected through the draft hasn't been good.

So who's smart now?

Clearly not you and not EG, if you want a GM that can build a winning organization.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | February 19, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

I think I was one of a few who predicted Cleveland would trouble in the playoffs last year, based on their overreliance on LeBron and their lack of offensive support. For a couple rounds it looked like I was completely off-based, but then they ran into Orlando.

Now I suspect Cleveland is a lot more ready than before. O'Neal is part of it, but Jamison may be an even bigger part. Now if their outside shooting goes into the tank (that's what happened last year), they've got additional scoring inside.

A good trade for Cleveland. Good enough? We'll see.

Posted by: Samson151 | February 19, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

The fact that EG had to blow up a team that he largely put together is neither unusual and/or necessarily his fault or really terribly relevant (only to the haters). And, that sort of thing happens all the time. Petrie in Sac'twn was a genius a few years ago and look at them now although I have a feeling EG's rebuilding efforts will get us respectable as soon as next season if the lottery falls our way.

I love what I see so far with the hustle and unselfish play since the trades. AB who is constantly bashed as a "bad" pick yet he is already thriving as a starter. Always said, my eyes have always told me he has had his best games as a starting PF. Regardless, he is already the BEST player in his second round of his draft. Next, if McGee turns out to be a freaky athletic consistent starting center, alas, I would love all the haters to eat crow.

The athletic factor on this team has already jumped 30%.

Posted by: rphilli721 | February 19, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I guess we can't blame EG for the debacle that he just blew up.

The only person who deserves blame is probably the mascot....but only to the haters.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | February 19, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

BTW, your comparison of EG to Petrie is comical at best.

Petrie in "Sac'twn" had a great run for many seasons where the team went deep into the playoffs including the conference finals when they had CWebb, Divac, Bibby, Stojakovic, and Turk.

That team got blown up when the stars were on their last leg, not in their prime as in this case.

EG's Les BouleS were a joke in even making the playoffs and were never a threat to even make it past the 2nd round.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | February 19, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse

"I'm waiting on Gil to come back also. I believe he will be focused from now on and he definitely learned his lesson and no more prankster stuff from him. If we can get J. Howard with his controversy (seems like Dallas thinks he's not the best character) why not stick with our guy Gil!

Posted by: washwiz | February 19, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse "

Keep smoking.

What did Gilby say the beginning of this season?

No blog, no tweet, no nonsense....

How did that turn out?

EG can't be trusted as far as he can be thrown.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | February 19, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Now, what about that; to those who wanted to throw cold water on us who felt good about the Wolves victory.

You said don't celebrate against that lowly team.

Now, what you got to say about this victory against the Nuggetts?
Are we allowed to feel good and celebrate this victory or not?

I tell you what, those paying folks in the VC were damn well celebrating.

Knoff said.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 19, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Do yourself a favor and go sign up for season tickets.

Put your money where your mouth is.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | February 19, 2010 11:18 PM | Report abuse

Now, what about that; to those who wanted to throw cold water on us who felt good about the Wolves victory...
Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | February 19, 2010 9:40 PM

I'm with you all the way Larry! Let's make room on the bandwagon for all the naysayers who will soon be looking to hitch a ride. LOL! Like Biz said, "d**n it feels good to see people up on it..."

Posted by: bazookajoe1 | February 20, 2010 2:38 AM | Report abuse

WHAT YOU ARE SEEING FROM THE NEW WASHINGTON TEAM IS HOW PLAYERS PLAYED BEFORE GUARANTEED CONTRACTS---THEY ARE PLAYING FOR JOBS FOR NEXT YEAR.WE DON'T NEED ANY BIG NAMES SIGNED THIS SUMMER.AND WE DEFINITELY DON'T NEED GILBERT BACK DESTROYING THECHEMISTRY OF THE TEAM.HOW HARD WOULD MOST PEOPLE WORK IF THEIR JOBS AND SALARIES WERE GUARANTEED FOR 5 YEARS?HIRE PLAYERS WITH MINIMAL CONTRACTS LOADED WITH INCENTIVE CLAUSES SO THAT ANY OF THEM CAN EARN TOP MONEY BASED ON PERFORMANCE,NOT HISTORY.GIVE US A TEAM LIKE THAT, AND LEBRON,BOSH,OR WADE WILL NOT STAND A CHANCE.WE CAN START THIS PROCESS BY FIRST REPLACING EG.
FOR EG TO SAY HE IS BRINGING GILBERT BACK REVEALS HIS LIMITATIONS AS A MANAGER.FIRST OF ALL,GILBERT IS NOT A PG.HE DOES NOT UNDERSTAND HOW TO DISTRIBUTE THE BALL AND GET EASY SHOTS FOR HIS TEAMMATES.SECOND,HIS 20MILLION WOULD INSULT AND DISCOURAGE REAL EFFORT BY OTHER PLAYERS WHEN HE ALREADY HAS THE LIONS SHARE OF AVAILABLE MONIES.WHATS LEFT TO REWARD THER EFFORTS?

Posted by: lowery81 | February 20, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PLEASE BRING BACK THE BULLETS AND RWB!!!

Posted by: MrWillie | February 20, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

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