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Flip Saunders: 'We might start four guards'

Flip Saunders remained coy about his plans for the starting lineup for the preseason opener against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night, saying that he wouldn't determine anything until before the game.

The pre-game notes that the Mavericks distributed to reporters before the Wizards' morning walk-through at American Airlines Center had the Wizards starting Al Thornton, Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee, John Wall and ... Kirk Hinrich. Saunders looked at the sheet of paper and joked, "Some of those guys will start."

Saunders said he "would anticipate" that Arenas plays tonight, but he was non-committal about starting him alongside Wall. Arenas returned to practice on Monday after missing the previous two days of practice with a right ankle sprain and three practices overall. He was on the court getting ready with the team, with his ankle again taped, as it prepared for the morning walk-through. "He's probably anxious to play," Saunders said. "Still not 100 percent."

When asked if he plans to eventually field a backcourt featuring Arenas and Wall, Saunders paused and said, "As I've told these guys, Hinrich has had an unbelievable camp. We're going to have a find a way to play all three of these guys."

Could he start all three? "Could," Saunders said with a grin. "Might start them tonight."

Saunders added, "We might start four guards."

The Wizards will have a reunion with former players Brendan Haywood, Caron Butler and DeShawn Stevenson, who were dealt to Dallas in a trade deadline deal last February. This is the first time they will share the court since that trade.

"It's always good to see them, but preseason is a little bit different," Saunders said. "Preseason is usually a time for younger players to get out and establish who they are. But it'll be good. I'm sure there will be some individual matchups over the game, JaVale matching up against Brendan, and Gilbert will be matched up some against Caron, if Gil is able to go tonight."

Saunders said he would probably limit Blatche to about 18 minutes, with the 6-foot-11 forward still recovering from a broken right foot. He added that he wasn't sure what to expect of Wall, with the No. 1 overall pick set to make his debut against Jason Kidd.

"I think he's always been a guy, I call them popcorn players, whether it's shootaround, or midnight madness, our scrimmages, or Vegas, tonight we got to make sure he's not over juiced up," Saunders said. "First time playing, against a Hall of Famer in Jason Kidd, a guy that he's looked up to in his career. So he's going to be jacked up to play against him. I know one thing, he's going to do three or four spectacular things, whether it's a block shot, dunk, rebound, going to the basket, picking somebody stealing it, defensively getting into someone. That's what he does over the course of practice and over games."

By Michael Lee  | October 5, 2010; 2:25 PM ET
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Next: Wizards preview preseason opener against Dallas


Not even concerned about JW..

More so looking @ what McGee does with BTH and how Seraphin looks...

Should be a good one!

Let's go Wiz!!

Posted by: kevenjones | October 5, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

If KH is so amazing then start him and sit Gil. Lame strategy to put a PG at SF just because the organization feels obligated to give Arenas and Hinrich 30+ minutes each.

Posted by: divi3 | October 5, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

The Wiz should be able to divy up 96 minutes between the 3 guards without any of them playing the 3 unless it's to match up against another team that's playing small ball. Arenas will have to get used to playing 30-35 minuges a night instead of 40+ like he did in the past. Hinrich may start in the preseason but Arenas will be the starter by opening night. People also shouldn't forget that Arenas is a defensive liability and has been even before his injuries. Both Hinrich and Wall are better defenders which is what matters the most to Flip.

Posted by: wizfan89 | October 5, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

"Hinrich may start in the preseason but Arenas will be the starter by opening night....

Both Hinrich and Wall are better defenders which is what matters the most to Flip.

Posted by: wizfan89 | October 5, 2010 3:01 PM"

Why would Arenas start if defense matters most to Flip? I have no problem with KH starting if that's the direction they want to go, but don't put a PG at the SF position because you "can't" bench Arenas for various reasons.

Posted by: divi3 | October 5, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I can take KH on Butler rather than Gil, but I trust Flip to exploit the match ups and do what’s right. Last year there was a different starting lineup for each preseason game, I expect the same this year. I don't read too much into who starts tonight, everyone will be evaluated throughout the preseason.

Posted by: Gooddad | October 5, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Interesting, I wonder if the org seeks to avoid having Gilbert and Wall on the court at the same time? Something to look for tonight.

Posted by: closg | October 5, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

You guys are insane. Keep on buying the hype all you want. Gil is still the best player on this team and easily more than just 1 level above Kirk. Anyone who thinks Kirk will start has totally bumped there head, not only for the fact that Gil is much better but who is going to score? Are you really going to start Wall, Kirk, Thorton, Dray, & McGee, and think that time will always consistently score and be hard to defend? Hell NO.

That team will struggle to sccore big time even when Dray is fully healthy, let alone when he's rusty like he is now. Not only do we need Gil but he will easily be our go to guy. Dont let Flip's tricks fool you. The Bulls fans didnt even like Kirk starting for them last year. He only started because they had no one else and Rose wasnt a true PG so he needed help. He's a great 3 guard and backup PG but not a starting SG at all

Posted by: dlts2041 | October 5, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I dont care who starts or plays tonight, but would like to see Lester Hudson get a ton of burn

Posted by: divi3 | October 5, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

i wanna see Morrison play he was my guy back in the college days. It'd be nice to see him turn his career around, that being said, if he can't we gotta ditch this stiff

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | October 5, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I hope Flip is just trying to be cute with this 3- or 4-guard lineup talk.

Wall, Arenas and Hinrich in the same lineup is extremely limited for whoever (most likely Hinrich) winds up stuck playing offense/defense against the opposing SF, not to mention the size disadvantage on the defensive boards. Most SFs definitely have the quicks/length to bother Hinrich when he's on offense.

If Flip falls in love with small ball this season, G_d help us!

Posted by: and_1 | October 5, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

The Wizards should do whatever helps them immediately

They have a team that is laughably far from competing for the playoffs.

They have young talent but no to-go-to guy that is ready NOW

So, whatever works

Posted by: Bious | October 5, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

@ and_1

Not just the opposing SF but the opposing SG as well, cuz neither Gil or Kirk can deal with a true SF or SG..

That's why I want to see how Arenas does at SG, not on the offensive end but on the Defensive end..Think it will be a nightmare. He will score 30 and give up 25 all year long...

Think Kirk will have to backup JW imo...

Posted by: kevenjones | October 5, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

kevenjones, thats what the zone is for. I think against smaller SG's, half the time Gil will guard them and half the time Wall will. It wont be just Gil on the 2's since Wall is taller and better defensively. However, when we play the big 2's like Kobe then I think we will zone up alot in those games

Posted by: dlts2041 | October 5, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Will be interesting to see how Flip rotates Wall, Gilbert, and Hinrich situationally.

Need points? Wall and Gilbert.

Stop an opposing team's run? Wall and Hinrich.

Slow paced half court offense? Hinrich and Gilbert.

Each three guys have their strong traits and right now none are all around good enough to play all the time (could make the case that Gilbert was, and Wall will be). A smart coach would figure out how to get all the guys enough minutes to be in the flow but be flexible enough to ride certain combos depending on what's going on in the game.

Unlike EJ who'd just play all the starters 40+ minutes.

Posted by: manifested | October 5, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse


I hear you but not a single team in the nba utlizies the zone as a primary defensive strategy. So you will have to guard your man more often than not...

Posted by: kevenjones | October 5, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

And any team with an even good outside shooter will destroy your team while it's playing "zone" defense...

just sayn. But I think we will be a better defensive team with JW and Kirk so we will see!

Posted by: kevenjones | October 5, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Anybody who thinks Hinrich will start over Gil in the regular season is wishful thinking. That's it.

Posted by: G-Man11 | October 5, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Hinrich will start.I think he will be first off the bench and giving JW a breather.

Gil will be the starter at the 2...As long as he is "healthy"..

Posted by: kevenjones | October 5, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Geez -- what difference does it make who starts? It's the first game of freaking preseason.

Methinks we need something else to talk about.

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


Posted by: dargregmag | October 5, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Flip Flop becomes Nellie. Never won nothing.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | October 5, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

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