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Jazz on the Wizards' blues


You okay, Deron? Yeah. I just hate having to demolish those guys like that. (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE/Getty Images)


Maybe it's because he's starting to mellow (after all, the career leader in technical fouls only has three this season), or he's always had a soft spot for the organization that drafted him not once, but twice. But it was still a bit surprising to hear no-nonsense, hard-nosed Hall of Fame Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan express sympathy for a fallen opponent, as he did after his team beat-down the Wizards 112-89 on Monday night.

It may not have seemed like it when they building a 34-point second-half lead, but Sloan and his players talked about a Wizards franchise that has obviously fallen on hard times. With Gilbert Arenas's season-ending suspension, a flurry of salary-dumping trades and an injury to Josh Howard, the Wizards (21-44) are in the midst of a season-high eight-game losing streak and Sloan actually felt sorry for them.

"It's tough on this team. With all the stuff you can imagine that they've gone through and they're still playing. I thought they played hard," said Sloan, who spent his rookie season playing with the Baltimore Bullets. "They've had a lot of tough things to overcome but they're trying to put their team back together."

Sloan also expressed how difficult the challenge must be for Coach Flip Saunders, who expected to join a playoff contender only to be a part of a lottery team. "People talk about the team, but the guy coaching the team, what do you think he's going through?" Sloan said. "The problems and stuff like that make this a very, very difficult job. I'm sure there'll be people who think, 'Well, look at the record and let's try something different.' "

Carlos Boozer said that it was "weird" to face a Wizards team that didn't have Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler or Antawn Jamison playing. "We've seen them for so many years. Antawn having big games, Gilbert having big games, Caron having big games. Now you're getting guys other opportunities that haven't been able to play," said Boozer, who was impressed with Andray Blatche. "That's why you see from Blatche, you know, Blatche gets all the shots. He's been able to perform great from them. He's a big key to what their success in the future is over there."

Deron Williams, who once guarded Arenas for one of his game-winning jumpers in the 2006-07 season, expressed a similar sentiment. "It's a different team. It's a different look for them. You know, they're not as good. Those are three All-Stars," he said. "You can tell there's some things going on over there, but they've still got a lot of young talent on their team. [JaVale] McGee and Blatche are going to be good in this league for a while."

By Michael Lee  |  March 16, 2010; 1:03 PM ET
 
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Next: Now that's Gee

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Deron Williams, who once guarded Arenas for one of his game-winning jumpers in the 2006-07 season, expressed a similar sentiment."It's a different team. It's a different look for them. You know, they're not as good. Those are three All-Stars," he said.

Deron,

The team that had the three All-Stars you are talking about on it was one of the worst teams in the NBA?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | March 16, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Okay, so you are not even to be taken serious?

Your're gonna make everyone ignore your post with comments like that

Posted by: millineumman | March 16, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Here is a good article on Grunfeld's panic trade deadline moves. They contend that he should have taken another strategy because relying on free agents coming to Washington in 2010 is stupid. I agree.

http://wizards.realgm.com/articles/289/20100214/wizards_make_woeful_decision_with_butler/haywood_trade/

Posted by: tramellcanady | March 16, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Very nice work M. Lee!

It's always good to hear what these elite Western teams are saying about us. Sometimes a fresh set of eyes brings a new perspective.

Boozer seems to think Blatche is a building block. That's good enough for me to believe cause I didn't check him for 30+ minutes last night.

Posted by: elfreako | March 16, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I haven't been posting lately, because there really isn't much to say about about this team of 2nd or thrid stringers. This team will be lucky to win 5 games the rest of the season...and that's fine as long they play hard and hustle.

I say draft big and buy small. This team ain't doing crap next season anyway, so take a chance on some big guys and see what shakes out. Livingstone still has a chance to make a radical comeback. he isn't there yet, and may never get there, but he has flashes of being a serious NBA PG again.

See how he and Arenas shake out and see who is on the trade/FA/draft market next year to fill the holes we have then.

It may be possible to make playoffs next year or even win the first round. I am all for that as long as it doesn't mean we retard our building of a serious contender.

Posted by: Blurred | March 16, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Mike, for periodically posting Wizards post-game comments from [worthy] opponents. Your introductory pieces are usually so negative and snide, it's refreshing to read insightful, positive comments about an admittedly struggling team from people who actually are knowledgeable about basketball.

Posted by: Fief1 | March 16, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Only time will tell if Grunfeld did well with this year's trades. However, the link in Tramelcanaday's post isn't useful--it was written after the deal with Dallas but before the deal with the Clippers. Getting Gooden in the Dallas trade made it possible to get Thornton. As to all of those packages for draft picks he speculates upon, logic may be good, but no one knows if they were real possibilities. We netted cap room plus Thornton and Howard, who looked really good before his injury. Plus bench players are now getting a chance to step up with the benefit of Flip's coaching--hard not to be impressed with Blatche, he's working on being a star. Glad we didn't trade him.

Posted by: StevenGrossman | March 16, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

tramellcanady,

Grunfeld's moves weren't designed to clear out cap space with the goal of signing a max free agent in 2010-2011.

He's even on record as saying as much (e.g. the team has no expectation of signing LeBron James in this off-season).

The moves still works on several levels.

1a. From a pure business perspective, the move almost certainly ensures that the team will turns a pretty nice profit in 2010 -- even with the dismal on the court performance. This is important in light of the fact that the team is up for sale right now.

1b. It got the team under the cap, and ensures that the team will get a share of the fees from teams that are over the cap.

1c. It gives future owners maximum flexibility to do what they feel is necessary to rebuild the team now that only one major contract still on the books (and the Arenas situation could play out a number of different ways).

2. The move gives the franchise a chance to evaluate the young players that it does have.

3. The move adds some prospects (e.g. a late #1 pick, which can be used, or packaged to move up in the draft; a quality prospect in Al Thornton; a couple potential reserves in Singleton and Ross; and a conditional #2 rounder from Sacramento).

4. The move improves the Wizards odds in the lottery simply based on the fact that they are likely to finish the season with a lot of losses (I'm sure that the franchise and most of the fans would have been happy if the team could have made a serious playoff push with Josh Howard, but that hope disappeared when Howard went down).

5. The team needed to be blown up, because, as was stated by the players and the management, the Big Three had grown stale. The move also rewarded loyal players with a chance to vie for a championship while they still were playing at a relatively high level.

6. Finally, it gives the Wizards financial flexibility to maneuver if it ever does start seriously jumping into the free agent market (e.g. in 2011 or beyond).

The primary purpose of the deals though was not so that the Wizards could make a serious play for LeBron, or D-Wade, Chris Bosh, Stoudemire, or other max free agent this off-season.

Posted by: JPRS | March 16, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

"Here is a good article on Grunfeld's panic trade deadline moves."

That article puzzles me. The author assumes that the Wiz are planning to rebuild through free agency and also to accumulate draft choices. He thinks the Wiz should have traded their vets for a player like Richard Jefferson.

I'm not under the impression that's their goal at all.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 16, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

I hadn't realized the Celts had a good road record, but they do -- almost the equal of Cleveland's. That's a sign they'll be more dangerous in the playoffs than some think.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 16, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

if it's true EG tried to trade Dray for DJ Augustine, he really dodged a Bullet(ha) thanks to MJs greater incompetence.

Dray is the lone, legit brightspot on the team and we almost gave him away? Sure, as fans we may not know any better but the guy running the team should

Posted by: divi3 | March 16, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Look at the top ten probable draftees and then at the lottery candidate teams -- NJ, the Wiz, Indy, Detroit, Minnesota, the Warriors, the Sixers, the Knicks, Sacramento and the Clippers -- and ask yourselves, how many of these rooks would start on how many of these teams?

Posted by: Samson151 | March 16, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Here's my issue. Blatche gives you 20 pts and 8 rebounds. but just like Jamison's 20 and 10, they are soft. he is hitting jumpers and reverse layups. meanwhile, his opponent is going through his chest, demoralizing him and physically wearing him down. blatche has got to get stronger.

I hope they can keep Livington at a league minimium deal to push Arenas over to a 2-gaurd. I hope they draft the kid from Ohio stae and not the kid from Kentucky. Howard and Thornton at the 3s, Blatche and McGee at the 4 and 5. The 4 and 5 spots will still be the weak spot to me.

Posted by: oknow1 | March 16, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

oknow1

Name the players that have went thru Blatche's chest and demoralized him since Jamison was traded. Name each and everyone of them.

Posted by: G-Man11 | March 16, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

blatche is light years ahead of jamison on d the comparison is not legit

Posted by: bford1kb | March 16, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

"You okay, Deron? Yeah. I just hate having to demolish those guys like that." really? if you hate your job, quit, don't just write garbage like that

Posted by: bford1kb | March 16, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

"That article puzzles me. The author assumes that the Wiz are planning to rebuild through free agency and also to accumulate draft choices. He thinks the Wiz should have traded their vets for a player like Richard Jefferson. "

The same Richard Jefferson who's been an underachieving overpaid disappointment all season for a Spurs team that's struggling to stay in playoff contention and was reportedly desperately looking to dump him at the trade deadline?

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 16, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Blatche is putting up nice numbers and playing well, but how much that says about his role if/when the team is still an open question. He's getting the bulk of the shots because, right now, there are no better options. But what happens when there are? If Arenas comes back and/or the Wiz land a legit scorer in the offseason? Will he still play with the same focus and energy if he knows he's not the featured attraction? Remains to be seen.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 16, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

"The same Richard Jefferson who's been an underachieving overpaid disappointment all season for a Spurs team that's struggling to stay in playoff contention and was reportedly desperately looking to dump him at the trade deadline?Posted by: kalo_rama"

The very same, but he's not a Wizard so that makes him desirable, until we trade for him, after which he'll be a miserable overpaid worm like all the others.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 16, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

"The same Richard Jefferson who's been an underachieving overpaid disappointment all season for a Spurs team that's struggling to stay in playoff contention and was reportedly desperately looking to dump him at the trade deadline?Posted by: kalo_rama"

The very same, but he's not a Wizard so that makes him desirable, until we trade for him, after which he'll be a miserable overpaid worm like all the others.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 16, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

bford1kb -- "blatche is light years ahead of jamison on d the comparison is not legit" and 'You okay, Deron? Yeah. I just hate having to demolish those guys like that.' "really? if you hate your job, quit, don't just write garbage like that."

GREAT POSTS (G-Man11, too). In agreement one-hundred percent re AB's play and suggesting Mike Lee quit his job. His "reporting" is woefully inadequate and his Wizards bashing, predictable and pathetic.

Posted by: Fief1 | March 16, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

The AJ - Blatch Defense comparison:

AJ sagged towards the key on D and routinely required help defending in the post. His postioning netted him a ton of rebounds, but the flip side is that the Wiz were one of the worst 3pt shooting defence teams in the league.

By comparison, Blatche steps out further on D and defends the post better without help. Even without the sagging and help, he defends the rim better. I have not looked at the stats, but it seems like we give up fewer wide open 3s.

I don't want to sell AJ short, but if I had to pick a player to play D in the 4, it's Blatch hands down.

Posted by: cballer | March 16, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Will he still play with the same focus and energy if he knows he's not the featured attraction? Remains to be seen.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 16, 2010 3:01 PM

Hard to envision a scenario where AB isnt getting 15-20 shots per night, just like AJ did even when Gil was in full-on bombs away mode.

Posted by: divi3 | March 16, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

" hope they can keep Livington at a league minimium deal to push Arenas over to a 2-gaurd"

Um... I don't think Livingston is going to push Arenas to a 2 guard.

I'm not sure Livingston will be in the league next season, other than on short contracts.

It's still up in the air. Look good against Jameer Nelson one night, get toasted and buttered against Deron Williams the next.

That's not a description of a starting PG.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 16, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

"I don't want to sell AJ short, but if I had to pick a player to play D in the 4, it's Blatch hands down."

Damning with faint praise, really. Blatche is far from a defensive force, even if he is better than Jamison.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 16, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

"Hard to envision a scenario where AB isnt getting 15-20 shots per night, just like AJ did even when Gil was in full-on bombs away mode."

As usual, you toss out numbers in response to an observation that isn't about numbers.

Even if true, that doesn't actually address my point. When Arenas was in "full-on bombs away mode" and getting "15-20 shots" Jamison was not the featured attraction on the team; Arenas was.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 16, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

EDIT:

When Arenas was in "full-on bombs away mode" and Jamison was getting "15-20 shots" Jamison was not the featured attraction on the team; Arenas was.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 16, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Just glancing at the likely top ten picks, seems to me like these would step in and start for the Wiz next season: John Wall, Evan Turner, Wes Johnson. These would get heavy minutes: Cousins, Derrick Favors, Cole Aldrich, Al-Farouq Aminu, Greg Monroe.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 16, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

As usual, you toss out numbers in response to an observation that isn't about numbers.

Even if true, that doesn't actually address my point. When Arenas was in "full-on bombs away mode" and getting "15-20 shots" Jamison was not the featured attraction on the team; Arenas was.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 16, 2010 3:22 PM

Ok, in that case, I think your point is invalid and basically just reaching for potential criticisms on the lone player who is actually performing. Dray has sounded of late like he wishes there was someone else on the floor to alleviate all the attention, and he's always been a guy that picked up assists rather than a black hole. He's also said to have a strong relationship with Gil, so the notion that Arenas' return would foul up his effort level would seem to be unfounded.

Posted by: divi3 | March 16, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Samson,

Are you assuming that Arenas will or won't be back next season? Because if he is, I wouldn't count on a rookie PG starting ahead of him (if for no other reason than they need to show Arenas off if they hope to trade him). And I'm not convinced he'll work at SG. On the flip side, I don't see any of Washington's front-court players as being so entrenched that they can't be displaced.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 16, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

"Dray has sounded of late like he wishes there was someone else on the floor to alleviate all the attention ...

He spent every moment of his career up until a month ago surrounded by guys who could "alleviate all the attention" yet he somehow managed not to give a consistent effort. Yet, as soon as he became the center of attention, he started to put on a show.

...and he's always been a guy that picked up assists rather than a black hole."

That's nice but since I didn't say anything about him being a black hole it has no bearing on what I did say.

"He's also said to have a strong relationship with Gil, so the notion that Arenas' return would foul up his effort level would seem to be unfounded."

Then where was this level of effort for the 4 previous seasons he played with Arenas? Nowhere to be found, that's where.

All told, those seem like a pretty solid foundations to wonder how he'll react when he gets bumped a bit back further down the food chain.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 16, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

if it's true EG tried to trade Dray for DJ Augustine, he really dodged a Bullet(ha) thanks to MJs greater incompetence.

Dray is the lone, legit brightspot on the team and we almost gave him away? Sure, as fans we may not know any better but the guy running the team should

Posted by: divi3 | March 16, 2010 2:31 PM


If that rumored trade was ever proposed by Grunfeld, Grunfeld is dumber and more incompetent than Jordan by miles and miles for not knowing what he had growing in his OWN backyard. Grunfeld gave Blatche sunshine and water, Gil fertilized him (with the stinky shoe) and still, as recently as a month ago, Grunfeld thought Blatche was a weed.
You might want to re-calibrate your incompetence meter.

Posted by: ArmChairQB | March 16, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

On the flip side, I don't see any of Washington's front-court players as being so entrenched that they can't be displaced.

----

All told, those seem like a pretty solid foundations to wonder how he'll react when he gets bumped a bit back further down the food chain.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 16, 2010 3:40 PM

If EG feels like you do, and drafts a rookie to start in ABs place despite Blatche's performance as the starter- then yes, I agree issues may arise.

Posted by: divi3 | March 16, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse


All told, those seem like a pretty solid foundations to wonder how he'll react when he gets bumped a bit back further down the food chain.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 16, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

What do you mean "when"?
If you know something the rest of us don't about some big-name, big-game free agents joining this team, then please share.

Posted by: harrybalz | March 16, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

On the flip side, I don't see any of Washington's front-court players as being so entrenched that they can't be displaced.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 16, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Everyone knows you don't know anything about BB and that statement proves it?

I have been on here writing Ernie should be fired but I can admit that he has found two players AB and Michael Redd in all of his years as a GM.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | March 16, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Then where was this level of effort for the 4 previous seasons he played with Arenas?

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 16, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Equal to his playing time which has been about 10 minutes a game under the Ernie, ETaps, flip and your player development plan!

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | March 16, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

"Are you assuming that Arenas will or won't be back next season?"

I was thinking Wall, Turner, and Wes Johnson would all be candidates to start at SG, and Turner and Johnson could also play some at SF (they're about the same size as Butler and Josh Howard).

The thing with Wall, I don't think he's a classic PG in the mold of Deron Williams. Not yet a good enough outside shooter (of course, neither is Jason Kidd). But he could play alongside somebody like Arenas.

The big men, I was being polite. We venerate Blatche and McGee but I could see them giving way to Cousins and Favors, at least in minutes.

As to whether Gil returns: I guess I just don't believe it. The other clubs saw how far he'd come back (which is a long way), but also how much less of a force he was than during the glory years. I'm thinking after the sentencing, and the sale, if it ever happens, a deal will be cut, and Gil will go his own way.

I could be wrong, of course.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 16, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Name the players that have went thru Blatche's chest and demoralized him since Jamison was traded. Name each and everyone of them.

Posted by: G-Man11 | March 16, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse
No one, so far he did better than his oponents.He send KG with out a field goal,He dominated the chicago PFs,He killed RL(orlando's PF),dominate martin,he went neck to neck with boozer that is why he realized how good he is going to be,basicaly in all games he has after all star he did good.He will put more muscle mass in summer, he is not going to wait until we tell him that.One thing i am going to tell every body is he will opt out at the end of next season or ask for extension.The team has no owner at the moment, if this is not resolved soon we might miss him.We missed several players in the past that won shimpionship some where.

Posted by: gtefferra | March 16, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

All told, those seem like a pretty solid foundations to wonder how he'll react when he gets bumped a bit back further down the food chain.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 16, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

What do you mean "when"?
If you know something the rest of us don't about some big-name, big-game free agents joining this team, then please share.

Posted by: harrybalz | March 16, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

harrybalz,

If you've read any of kal's posts, then you should understand the guy comes on here with no bb knowledge and just wants to prove that he is right and others are wrong without backing up his argument with any facts.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | March 16, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

gtefferra

AB doesn't have a player option at the end of this season he is signed for 2 more.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | March 16, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Samson151,

I agree that Livingston isn't the answer at starting PG.

As a reserve though, he's done alright. Offensively, he's been more productive than not, defensively his play has been OK. When he's on the court he does a good job of controlling the tempo, so that there aren't wild point swings.

3/3 v. the Bucks, 15 minutes, 0
3/5 v. the Bucks, 15 minutes, -4
3/9 v. the Rockets, 20 minutes, +6
3/11 v. the Hawks, 18 minutes, +3
3/12 v. the Pistons, 8 minutes, +3
3/13 v. the Magic, 30 minutes, -4
3/15 v. the Jazz, 23 minutes, -16

The games against the Hawks, Rockets, and Magic included some quality minutes against quality opponents. Last night's game looked ugly, but that was true pretty much across the board. The Jazz's starting 5 owned whatever combo of 5 the Wiz threw at them.

Either way, odds are he'll continue to have a chance like the other players on this squad to audition for next year's team. Based on the early returns, I wouldn't be too surprised if the Wizards tendered him an offer in the off-season.

Posted by: JPRS | March 16, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Blatche gives you 20 pts and 8 rebounds. but just like Jamison's 20 and 10, they are soft. he is hitting jumpers and reverse layups.
Posted by: oknow1 | March 16, 2010 2:33 PM

While I can agree that Blatche is getting pushed around when he is on defense, I do recall him taking it strong to the hole for thunderous "ESPN Top 10" dunks on multiple occasions.

People need to stop demanding that he be like Shaq or something. In fact, for those of us that actually see other NBA games rather than micro-anaylize every play in Wiz games and just look for highlight plays on ESPN to evaluate the competition, Blatche's recent style of offense has been VERY SIMILAR to Chris Bosh.

Posted by: SportzWiz | March 16, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

"Blatche's recent style of offense has been VERY SIMILAR to Chris Bosh.Posted by: SportzWiz"

Don't see that. Bosh is quicker and more athletic. Blatche's game is built on size and his various skills. Neither is particularly physical, that's true.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 16, 2010 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Nice to see that other teams and coaches and players feeling sorry for us. Isn't that wonderful? Makes me all warm inside.

Posted by: horace1 | March 16, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

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