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Wizards losing magic number at five

The Wizards (21-45) were out of playoff contention long before this current nine-game losing streak, long before Josh Howard's left knee injury and long before Ernie Grunfeld hit the reset button on the franchise by dealing starters Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood at the trade deadline. But while the Wizards clinched their second consecutive losing season last week against the Hawks, they are now closer to officially being eliminated from the postseason.

After their 97-87 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, the Wizards' losing magic number is five (which is the number of combined Wizards losses and Toronto Raptors victories). The Wizards took the day off Wednesday, as players get some much-needed rest after playing five games in six nights. Andray Blatche will get treatment after spraining his left ankle in the fourth quarter. He said after the game that he hopes to practice on Thursday and be available for the Wizards' game against Portland on Friday.

James Singleton said that although the situation looks bleak, the Wizards still have something to play for with 16 games left in the season: Pride. "We just got to keep our heads up," he said. "I know we struggling right now, we just got to find a way to push through it. The season ain't over yet. It ain't over by a long shot. You still got things to do. Still got improvements to make. Just got to keep playing hard."

Said Mike Miller, "We just gotta keep playing and remember that every time we go to work that we've got the best job in the world and play as hard as you can, be professional and win games."

By Michael Lee  |  March 17, 2010; 1:44 PM ET
 
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Comments

I picked "Make sure Blatche and McGee get better" because I don't think there ping pong ball allotment will change no matter what they do.

Posted by: G-Man11 | March 17, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

G-Man11

I agree with you since the worst team doesn't always get the first pick.

Considering we are talking about the Wizards and Ernie as the GM I think the poll should have included bring in as many D league players on 10 day contracts to see if Ernie can get lucky?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | March 17, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Has there ever been a successful organization that continued to employ people who, several years into their careers, proved unable to grasp the basic elements and requirements of their job and showed little to no initiative to improve? Of course not.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 17, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

That organization would be called the Wizards look at how long they kept Wes Unseld around?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | March 17, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't have mind seeing Unseld Sr,(Hell no not Jr), coach the recent Wiz. Unseld Sr. was a terrible GM but he sure got those bums he had to play hard every game on the defensive end, and he gave no quarter to the superstars either(see King, Bernard)

Posted by: G-Man11 | March 17, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

when Unseld Sr was a coach

Posted by: G-Man11 | March 17, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

when Unseld Sr was a coach

Posted by: G-Man11 | March 17, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

It should be before you and I came to this world.

Posted by: gtefferra | March 17, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Around this time last year everybody was packing it in for a trip to the draft but how did that turn out. The choice was Blake Griffin who ended up injured, Hasheem Thabeet who is raw and underdeveloped, james harden who is good but not a franchise player, or Ricky Rubio who won't play in the nba until after the next olympics.

My point is develop the players we have now and try to win games. If you continue to lose Blatche and McGee may have the skill set but will still have the loser's mentality. Phil Chenier say losing teams develop bad habits from throwing away seasons and find ways to lose during close games.

Posted by: jefferu | March 17, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that Kalo would question whether an orgainzation has ever basically employed and rewarded such losers. The answer is yes: See Goldman Sachs. Do a terrible job in your job, tear it down, be paid to rebuild from your terrible job. Don't forget that there are always great excuses. If I had the time, I'd leave my job and fix the Wizards.

Posted by: Beeb1 | March 17, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I just hope Grunfield doesn't get cute like he did last year and give up a valuable 1st round draft pick for two mediocre players (see Foye, Randy and Miller, Mike). We had a chance to pick Tyreke Evans or Brandon Jennings-how much further along would we be if we did?

I want to trust Grunfield, but trading that draft pick hurt like heck!

Posted by: ArmchairGM | March 17, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

My point is develop the players we have now and try to win games. If you continue to lose Blatche and McGee may have the skill set but will still have the loser's mentality. Phil Chenier say losing teams develop bad habits from throwing away seasons and find ways to lose during close games.

Posted by: jefferu | March 17, 2010 2:40 PM

Jefferu,

That is why it was criminal what went down last year after Ernie was fired. I said so then and now.

You have to always be about winning. You have to develop that winning ingredient 24/7.

Losing for a draft pick will keep you losing. Ask the Clippers.

Are you one of the guys that agree with me or not whilst I am always going hard on coaching?

Just curious.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | March 17, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Or maybe...start hustling for loose balls and rebounds and play defense and score while you are in. Oh, and get a couple of steals while you are out there, too.

Posted by: Blurred | March 17, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Play "D" that never had an effect on a players playing time around here.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | March 17, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

OK, how about doing the other things? Nick is not a regular hustler. He isn't getting 10 boards no matter how many minutes he plays. I don't see him scrapping for loose balls or diving out of bounds (he tried it last night, but stepped on the line).

I think there is a motivation factor here. Staff management is tough in any industry. I have employees that put in extra time and are engaged in achieving excellence. I have others that have strong skills but cut corners and are OK with "good enough" most of the time. I try to get the lesser workers additional training adn give them opportunities to achieve, but I still give the "employee of the month" and bonuses to those who are self motivators. occasionally, something clicks with a low performer and they all of a sudden tuirn it around (re: Blatche this offseason). Sometimes they feel slighted that they didn't get the bonus or award.

Mostly they just keep going along as always until the get moved out and then blame the company for being unfair.

Maybe the Wiz could do more to help Nick, and he clearly has some spetacular skills, but he is hustle adverse and seems to think good enough is good enough when clearly it isn't.

Posted by: Blurred | March 17, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse


And luckily, I have excellent admin help to fix my persistent typing problems!

Posted by: Blurred | March 17, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

I just hope Grunfield doesn't get cute like he did last year and give up a valuable 1st round draft pick for two mediocre players (see Foye, Randy and Miller, Mike). We had a chance to pick Tyreke Evans or Brandon Jennings-how much further along would we be if we did?

I want to trust Grunfield, but trading that draft pick hurt like heck!

Posted by: ArmchairGM | March 17, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

But trading that pick was not the difference this season. He was tryign to augment the players he had then for the immediate return.

Once the investment in the team as it was in June of 2009 was evident to be a poor one, the trade was obviously a mistake.

However, I think EG knows he is building from the scrap heap up this time, so I would be surprised if he trades the pick for a couple of mid-level players.

Maybe for a real young star, though.

Posted by: Blurred | March 17, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Oh...I just said play hard and hope for some lucky breaks. I meant breaks such as McGee and Blatche improving and Gee and/or Livingston being real contributors as well as a kick butt draft, a good pick up in Free agency (not LeBron or anything, just a good solid under appreciated player) AND either getting Arenas off book or having him come in serious and ready to ball at 2006 level!

Posted by: Blurred | March 17, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Would say something, but......oh what the heck, GO SPIDERS.

Posted by: glawrence007 | March 17, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

too much talent in this draft to pass up a top5 pick.

speaking of talent, funny how not one team took a chance on Gee who was a 4yr player in the SEC and surely showed the same stuff he has now....while an unknown like Rubio or Jianlin goes 5th. Makes you wonder just how many diamonds are out there in the rough

Posted by: divi3 | March 17, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Would say something, but......oh what the heck, GO SPIDERS.

Posted by: glawrence007 | March 17, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

WORD!

Posted by: Blurred | March 17, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

too much talent in this draft to pass up a top5 pick.

speaking of talent, funny how not one team took a chance on Gee who was a 4yr player in the SEC and surely showed the same stuff he has now....while an unknown like Rubio or Jianlin goes 5th. Makes you wonder just how many diamonds are out there in the rough

Posted by: divi3 | March 17, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse


I've thought the exact same thing. I guess everyone is looking for the star and willing to take a chance on it. what is the real difference between a 10 pick and a 20 pick and 30 pick and 40 pick and a D-Leaguer? probably more 10 and 20 picks are in the league after 3 years, but how much of that is because they were higher picks and had more invested in them and more of a gms reputation invested in them as well and how much was because they truly were more skilled?

i guess we should ask Malcolm Gladwell to answer that.

Posted by: Blurred | March 17, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

I remember well the Unseld Sr coaching years. The teams were horrible and he stayed on way too long. Pollin was "too loyal" to fire him; and Unseld was "too proud" to quit. Diabetes fired Unseld, not Pollin. It was very indicative of the tangled ownership-coaches-players (misplaced) loyalties and misalignment that has characterized this franchise for decades. The next two months should be huge: Gilbert's sentencing and, I hope, some movement on the ownership front.

Posted by: jweber1 | March 17, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

and clearly there's the belief that a Yi or a Rubio will put butts in seats, even if they dont pan out fully.

Looks like Yi may be finding his nba legs (maybe), but it's amazing to think he was drafted by the Bucks without them seeing him in person even once!

Posted by: divi3 | March 17, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

as for Ricky Menudo....brandon jennings says he sucks and couldnt score a single bucket on him when they played. If that's worth anything, I dont know....but considering how Jennings harassed our backcourt, rubio's at least as good as foye and boykins apparently

Posted by: divi3 | March 17, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

as for Ricky Menudo....brandon jennings says he sucks and couldnt score a single bucket on him when they played. If that's worth anything, I dont know....but considering how Jennings harassed our backcourt, rubio's at least as good as foye and boykins apparently

Posted by: divi3 | March 17, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

tru dat

Posted by: Blurred | March 17, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

I would take great stock in what Jennnings said about Rubio.

Even, if he was exaggerating, you have got to realize that a fellow that chose to go overseas and play because he thought his game was not quite NBA ready is a realist.

Guys that are not ready will quit and Jennings didn't, so I would bet that he is spot on about Rubio.

Rubio may never play in the NBA. If he was really the 2nd coming of Pistol Pete, I kinda' think he would be in Minnesota or New York already.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | March 17, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

"Even, if he was exaggerating, you have got to realize that a fellow that chose to go overseas and play because he thought his game was not quite NBA ready is a realist."

That's not why he went overseas. He went overseas because the NBA rules prohibited him from going straight from H.S. to the pros and he didn't want to play for free for 1-year of college.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 17, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Without using hindsight, I cannot fault EG for trading the #5 pick at the time. He has said publicly that he liked Tyreke Evans. But, once it became known that Evans would be drafted before #5, why should he keep it.

As for people saying they could have a young star to build around, like Jennings, Rubio, or Curry, COME ON...none of those guys is the type of player you build a team around.

-Curry landed on a team that suits his game perfectly. His stats will always look good w/the Warriors.

-Rubio was probably not coming to play in D.C. And even if he was, he is either years away from being able to compete over 82 NBA games or he never will be able to handle the night to night challenges.

-Jennings gained so much fanfare from his one huge night (against the no-defense Warriors) that people fail to notice that he shoots too much and struggles to get teammates involved in the halfcourt. (I'm sure NO ONE on THIS blog would criticize that if he was here.)

Randy Foye could just as easily have blossomed this season. I'd rather look to what could be in this year's draft, which is more athletic top to bottom and at least has more players with defined positions and established skill sets. There is less that is still unknown about a lot (not all) of these guys.

Posted by: SportzWiz | March 17, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

"Rubio may never play in the NBA. If he was really the 2nd coming of Pistol Pete, I kinda' think he would be in Minnesota or New York already."

I never got the Pistol Pete comparison. Hard to think of two players with games that have less in common. Rubio is a classic PG who plays defense. Pete was, well, something else entirely.

Who called Jennings a realist? He went overseas for a paycheck and a chance to play ball without having to get the grades required of a student (and that was at Arizona, which is a glorified prep school.) While there Jennings dominated scrimmages with a tremendous one-on-one offensive game, and that sat on the bench against real opponents. He's still that sort of player -- a great individual offensive guy.

Rubio doesn't play that sort of game at all. Neither does Steve Nash, or Chris Paul, or Deron Williams, or the player that Rubio's game most resembles, Jason Kidd. He's not the athlete Kidd is, but he can't shoot a jumper either.

Meanwhile, Jennings is making a name for himself in the matchup-intensive atmosphere of the NBA. But he's designed for it.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 17, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

There are what, not much more than 300 spots in the NBA? So given the hundreds of thousands playing b-ball around the world, it's not surprising that the pool of talent is deeper than that. It's the superstars who are way above the pack.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 17, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Rubio may never play in the NBA. If he was really the 2nd coming of Pistol Pete, I kinda' think he would be in Minnesota or New York already.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | March 17, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse
NBA rules limit the amount teams can spend on a buyout. The player would have to pay the difference if no settlement was agreed upon b/w the NBA team and the Euroleague team. But NYC and Minny are nice places to visitin the summer, so i guess he can check them out during the offseason.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | March 17, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Keep hustling and playing hard and hope for some breaks. Meanwhile keep giving minutes to guys that keep making the best of their chance. I'd tend to curtail Miller's minutes some, because he's good as gone, and give them to whom ever steps up. Starting to think that Boykins and Foye might be in that group too.

I've seen a lot of grousing on here about Young's minutes. Gee's a good example of a guy coming in and FORCING his way onto the court. I've been a big Nick supporter in the past, I just don't see him forcing his way into the lineup. Ross and Gee seem to have a better grasp of what the team's running, and both just got here.

In the draft teams seem to gravitate toward that diamond in the rough, and hope to hit it big.

The Wiz could have such a choice this year. With the need for a rugged big and the Wizards history in the lottery, Turner and Wall will likely be off the board when they pick. So Cousins or Alderidge.

Cousins has the higher upside, but then he's going to be tougher to manage, might just wade into the stands and smack a guy. Alderidge is the more fundamentally sound guy and has played at a high level for three years. Not the leaper or the explosive athelete, but a really solid college big. Who do you take?

For the ones that chime in Monroe, I'm not thinking the Wiz need another skinny frontcourt man. Alderidge looks good in college, but Montross keeps creeping in my head. Does he lack the hops and lateral quicks to play center in the NBA?

Or is Cousins another Artest in the making?
Hate to see the team blow a top 5 pick on a guy that could make Blatche's first few years look like an honor Scout's.

Posted by: flohrtv | March 17, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

espn's mock draft has us locked into Cousins

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | March 17, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

@Sportswhiz,

Bravo! Very nice. Agree with you 100%. Someone said we could have gotten Tyreke Evans which is flat out wrong, but let's not let facts get in the way of fantasies!

The only possible franchise player I see from this draft that you might be able to "build" your team around is Tyreke Evans in season or two. He was long gone! Of course, we don't know about Blake Griffin yet, but he is probably going to be just a nice piece - a Carlos Boozer or Elton Brand type player at best.

Posted by: rphilli721 | March 17, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Rubio's not very good, was all hype. He doesnt look good right now in whatever Euroleague he's playing in, cant even start last I heard.

Posted by: divi3 | March 17, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Just for the record, there seems to be a lot of misinformation flying around. Jennings was not allowed to play in the NBA a year ago, and so had to go to Europe or else college. Also, we NEVER had a chance to pick Evans. Evans was picked #4 and we had the #5 pick. Missing Evans was not some mistake by Ernie.

Posted by: Urnesto | March 17, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Cousins would seem to be the worst pick given his supposed attitude, laziness, and the fact we already have AB at PF while we scour the dleague looking for guards.

Livingston was brushing up on his Mandarin when EG called him and now he's our starter, but let's draft a PF?

Posted by: divi3 | March 17, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

I dont see Cole Aldrich either. A skinny, skilled, non-athlete to go with our skinny, unskilled, athlete.

Or Greg "Andray Blatche" Monroe either

Posted by: divi3 | March 17, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Even, if he was exaggerating, you have got to realize that a fellow that chose to go overseas and play because he thought his game was not quite NBA ready is a realist."

That's not why he went overseas. He went overseas because the NBA rules prohibited him from going straight from H.S. to the pros and he didn't want to play for free for 1-year of college.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 17, 2010 5:13 PM

Thanks. I appreciate that. Believe it or not, I've always considered conversation as a learning tool and I love a good conversation.

Conversing with differing opinions and keeping a cool head without petty name calling is a great gift. Especially when one is flat out wrong as I was.

Butchasee' I now know the real reason Jennings went to play overseas and I woudn't have known it had I not stated incorrectly why.

Posting here gives me as much pleasure as my once vociferous appetite for reading.

"-Jennings gained so much fanfare from his one huge night (against the no-defense Warriors) that people fail to notice that he shoots too much and struggles to get teammates involved in the halfcourt. (I'm sure NO ONE on THIS blog would criticize that if he was here.)"

Posted by: SportzWiz | March 17, 2010 5:15 PM

SportzWiz, watch Jennings play again. His point guard play is tremendous.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | March 17, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

not much skinny bout aldrich. he's a big white goon. he's not as athletic as the guys we have, but he definitely has a kiester that can be backed up and parked on the block without much resistance. Any thoughts on Scheyer? late first rounder or second rounder? i'd like to take a look at him. he's kinda funky, i dunno.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | March 17, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

I just hope Grunfield doesn't get cute like he did last year and give up a valuable 1st round draft pick for two mediocre players (see Foye, Randy and Miller, Mike). We had a chance to pick Tyreke Evans or Brandon Jennings-how much further along would we be if we did?

I want to trust Grunfield, but trading that draft pick hurt like heck!

Posted by: ArmchairGM | March 17, 2010 3:13 PM |

There goes the neighborhood.

Posted by: ArmChairQB | March 17, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Since comments are all over the place on this Post, I'll head off in yet another direction!

I'm making the bold prediction that the Wizards will finally put together a winning streak of longer than 2 games before the end of the year. In fact, I'm predicting a six game winning streak to end the season!

I'm going on a gut feeling that the playoff picture in the East is going to be solidified by the beginning of April, and that lottery bound teams will be "tanking for ping pong balls" and early tee times.

While our beloved Wizards will have Singleton, Livingston and Gee still attempting to make next season's roster. And McGee still needing to develop his game and Nick Young still attempting to learn how to play basketball on a professional level!

Yes this is a nonsensical post. It's been a nonsensical season.

Posted by: bozomoeman | March 17, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

"speaking of talent, funny how not one team took a chance on Gee who was a 4yr player in the SEC and surely showed the same stuff he has now....while an unknown like Rubio or Jianlin goes 5th. Makes you wonder just how many diamonds are out there in the rough

Posted by: divi3 | March 17, 2010 4:21"

I agree. I view the Wizards' opportunity for the rest of the season to try out the cream of the D League as a kind of late season supplemental draft.

All you need to do is find one "keeper" and it has ripple effects as to how the team uses its draft picks and free agent money. Plus, the guys who come out of the D League are hungry and really appreciate the opportunity.

Posted by: PostSubscriber | March 17, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

GO SPIDERS. Cream the GAELS.

Posted by: glawrence007 | March 17, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

"We had a chance to pick...Brandon Jennings"Posted by: ArmchairGM

Yes, we did. So you can say with authority that Ernie is no smarter than the other 8 GMs that didn't pick him. And no smarter than the what, 28 GMs that passed on DeJuan Blair? On the other hand, Ernie was definitely smarter than the 17 other GMs who skipped over Javale McGee a couple seasons ago, or the 48 others who whiffed on Andray Blatche.

Or you can look at it this way: Ernie was smart enough not to trade up for Hasheem Thabeet.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 17, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Well, I guess you can say Ernie is any smarter than the 29 other GMs who passed on Blatche, many of them twice.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 17, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse

"speaking of talent, funny how not one team took a chance on Gee who was a 4yr player in the SEC and surely showed the same stuff he has now..."

Don't recall having seen him play, but as a general rule it's far from sure that a guy shows the same stuff in college that he shows in the NBA. It may simply be that he spent that time in the D-League learning some stuff he didn't learn in college.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 17, 2010 10:25 PM | Report abuse

espn's mock draft has us locked into Cousins

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | March 17, 2010 5:29 PM
___________________________________________
Wiz will draft to their real need, i.e., SF or SG. Therefore, it's most likely Wesley Johnson over the "head case", Cousins. Of course, if we get lucky and "move up", Wall and Turner are "no-brainers".

Posted by: phil27 | March 18, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

I've seen a few Euroleague games on NBATV....Rubio isn't bad at all. He's clearly better than any PG the Wizards currently have...but I wouldn't agree with the "Pistol Pete" comparison...(Not yet anyway)

Posted by: chicoexcell | March 18, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

You guys sure don't write much anymore. The comment sections are so much longer than the articles - online, anyway.

Posted by: Supporter51 | March 18, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

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