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Posted at 1:00 PM ET, 12/14/2010

Former Terp Steve Blake seeking a championship with the Lakers

By Michael Lee

Thanks for getting me closer to that ring, Kobe. (AP Photo)


Of the six active players from the last Wizards team to reach the conference semifinals, Steve Blake is now best positioned to become the first to win an NBA championship as a member of the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. Brendan Haywood is on an elite team in Dallas and Etan Thomas is on a playoff team in Atlanta, but Antawn Jamison, Jared Jeffries, Kwame Brown and Gilbert Arenas -- the last Wizard remaining from that team -- are all on struggling teams.

Blake was just a reserve with the Wizards in 2004-05, and didn't seem to be a huge loss at the time when the team let the restricted free agent sign an offer sheet with the Portland Trail Blazers without bothering to match. Since then, Blake has played for Milwaukee, Denver, Portland again, and the Los Angeles Clippers, with his role changing at almost every location.

"I've had a crazy road, a great road," said Blake, the 38th pick out of Maryland in the 2003 draft. "I've played for a lot of great coaches. I've started for years. I've come off the bench for years. I've played on bad teams, on good teams. But I think it's all for the best. I've had a chance to experience a lot. I think it's made me grow as a person and as a player and I think I'm in the spot I need to be at right now."

The Lakers pursued Blake early in the free agent recruiting period, believing that the 30-year-old veteran could add some stability and toughness while backing up five-time champion Derek Fisher. Blake signed a four-year deal worth $16 million with the Lakers, the most lucrative contract of his career. "I was really excited. Whenever you have a championship team, wanting you to be with them, it makes you believe that you're a championship player," Blake said. "So to me, that meant a lot, made me feel good, and made me want to be a part of it."

Blake didn't waste any time in really becoming a Laker. It happened in his first game, when Kobe Bryant fed Blake for a go-ahead three-pointer and Blake shut down Aaron Brooks on the final possession of a 112-110 victory over the Houston Rockets. "That kind of set the tone, kind of helped them trust me and believe in me as a player and I think it was important to earn that respect early on," Blake said.

Blake is averaging 5.6 points and 2.1 assists for the Lakers, and chipped in nine points -- on three three-pointers -- in their 115-108 win over the Wizards last week. He said he enjoys playing for Coach Phil Jackson and with Bryant, Fisher and the rest of his new teammates. The Florida native also became a fan of Los Angeles in his short time with the Clippers last season.

"A great place to live, and obviously a great team that's had a lot of success in the last ... forever, actually. Happy to be playing for a great coach, playing with great teammates, just happy to do my part," Blake said. "It's amazing. [Being with the Lakers] really takes your game to another level. Playing with the greatest players, the greatest coach. It's just a winning atmosphere out here. They expect you win, expect you play well and we all hold each other accountable, which is nice."

By Michael Lee  | December 14, 2010; 1:00 PM ET
 
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Next: Open thread: Wizards (6-16) vs. Lakers (17-7)

Comments

If Gil isnt lagging then maybe he can go off tonight because with Wall out maybe LA puts Fisher on Gil instead of having Artest on him like last time. Atest is a little too big to stay with Gil but he can crowd him with his height & lead him right into those 7footers.

Gil also cant attack the rim off the pick & roll as much at the 2. Maybe at the 1 he gets guarded by Fish more and can also get some of there bigs in foul trouble if he's right. Problem for us though is that even if we got one of there bigs in foul trouble, Bynum will most likely play tonight so they have enough

Posted by: dlts2041 | December 14, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

I dont mind Yi getting the start. I think Flip looks at it like LA is so big so you might want a 7 footer to start. Its the Lakers so you may want a vet to start. Yi can shoot it & isnt reluctant so we might use him to run some pick & rolls with Gil. Yi also wasnt playing horribly when he was healthy so maybe Flip is hoping that he looks better with the rust off & his conditioning is back.

With all that being said, he better be on a short leash. If he stinks then pull him for Booker. Booker needs to be more aggressive on Offense though. He has 3pt range yet he hardly ever will even shoot a 15ft open 2. He has to take & make that shot

Posted by: dlts2041 | December 14, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

I liked Blake when he was here. I also felt that Blake added spark and smoothness to the guard/team play.

However, since he wasn't quote 'a big dog' is value wasn't a premium and the Wizs chose to let him skip.

But, it takes real foresight and wisdom to see the whole chess board. To often this Team continually focuses on how things ought to be without really developing and appreciating what it has.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | December 14, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Steve Blake = Johnny Weeks

Posted by: ajedwardsjr | December 14, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Bynum will just be a big body tonight. He was injured remember? And as Wiz fans we know not to expect the same player the day back from surgery. Either way we can't win this game. Not enough heart,will,drive or whatever. I feel we're really athletic and talented but we'll get beat by double figures. I hope not but i'm not done being optimistic just to be let down by a team that comes to play every other quarter of every other game.

Posted by: Wizbullets88 | December 14, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

I've always liked Blake as a player and thought the Wiz made a mistake letting him go. But they weren't alone. He's played well and helped teams at pretty much every stop, yet he keeps bumped aside, either for bigger name veterans or young up and comers.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 14, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: prescrunk | December 14, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Extremely happy for Steve Blake. Too bad we didn't pay enough attention to him to keep him here. Everyone was on Juan but I thought that Steve would last in the league far longer than Juan Dixon. Blake's game was so that the way that he played, he was a pretty natural role player. Juan was a streaky player but they both deserved and got chances to play in the NBA. Steve was a more polished ballhandler and had better court vision. I will be rooting for him as we whip some Laker A$$ tonight! (Yeah, I know, but please let me finish my dream!)

Posted by: zack9633 | December 14, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

I like him too. I was hoping the Wiz would have signed him before the 2009-10 season, as somebody who could come off the bench and get the team into its offense. Wasn't to be. I notice he's connected on 36 of 74 threes this season, which will make any PG more attractive to GMs around the NBA.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 14, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Loved Blake at Maryland and was really happy to see the Wizards take him in the second round. I predicted that he'd have a more successful NBA career than Juan Dixon, who I admired hugely, because Dixon was more natural at shooting guard but too small to thrive there in the NBA, while Blake was a true point guard. Dixon could never get really comfortable at the point.

Funny that the Wizards really wanted Blake to become more of a shooter instead of focusing on his ability to distribute the ball. When he left, Washington had scoring guards but nobody who looked to create for their teammates and get assists. Blake did improve his 3-point shooting, but I think it's his ability to play the point that has kept him in the NBA.

Posted by: gophercrow | December 14, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

"Steve Blake = Johnny Weeks
Posted by: ajedwardsjr"

Took me a minute -- Weeks was Bubbles' protege on The Wire. Only white hype in the neighborhood.

Anybody here hasn't been through the 5 seasons of that show -- takes a couple episodes to get into it, but it's a remarkable body of work. Really a show about organizations vs the individual...

Posted by: Samson151 | December 14, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Notice how Butler, Haywood, and Stephenson are tearing it up for the Mavericks? Thanks Ernie, for blowing up a team that didn't need to be blown up and replacing those players with players that are not as good. We need to blow up EG. He managed the difficult feat of having absolutely nothing to show for last year's draft in which we had the number five and number 32 overall picks. John Wall fell into his lap this year (and was promptly mishandled by EG and his butt boy, Flip) and it's a good thing. Because other than Wall, who else did EG get in this year's draft? A bunch of guys who can barely get on the floor like Seraphin? Which free agents did EG pick up who are tearing it up? Yi Jianlian? EG must go.

Posted by: sonny2 | December 14, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Haywood is not tearing it up.

Posted by: djnnnou | December 14, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

I liked Blake when he was here. I also felt that Blake added spark and smoothness to the guard/team play.

However, since he wasn't quote 'a big dog' is value wasn't a premium and the Wizs chose to let him skip.

But, it takes real foresight and wisdom to see the whole chess board. To often this Team continually focuses on how things ought to be without really developing and appreciating what it has.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | December 14, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Even Back then Steve Blake had much more NBA value than Juan Dixon. We wasted picks on both of them really, but we really crapped out keeping Juan and letting Stevie B go. JD maxed out in college and was never really able to be that player in the L. Blake gives you exactly what you expect from him every night.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | December 14, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

"I thought that Steve would last in the league far longer than Juan Dixon."

I thought so too, totally agree with you.

"I've always liked Blake as a player and thought the Wiz made a mistake letting him go."

I think what happened was Blake did not want to be the 3rd PG (behind Arenas and AD), and wanted out (I don’t blame him). Wizards did not want to stand in his way. Money wasn't an issue, as he didn't really get a big contract.

Posted by: sagaliba | December 14, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

"Funny that the Wizards really wanted Blake to become more of a shooter instead of focusing on his ability to distribute the ball. When he left, Washington had scoring guards but nobody who looked to create for their teammates and get assists. Blake did improve his 3-point shooting, but I think it's his ability to play the point that has kept him in the NBA."

Posted by: gophercrow | December 14, 2010 2:56 PM

It's not really an either/or thing. On some of the teams he's been on he was called on to be a distributor. In Portland and LA he's been paired with SG's who have the ball in their hands most of the time, so he's more of a defender/shooter.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 14, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

"I think what happened was Blake did not want to be the 3rd PG (behind Arenas and AD), and wanted out (I don’t blame him). Wizards did not want to stand in his way. Money wasn't an issue, as he didn't really get a big contract."

Posted by: sagaliba | December 14, 2010 3:39 PM

Not quite. Blake left before Daniels arrived, so that was never an issue. It is true that he wanted more PT, but if the Wiz had committed to him as Arenas's primary backup (and offered him the right money) they would have had a shot at keeping him. (It was hardly a given that someone else was gonna give him a starting job, although that's how it ended up working out.) But they really made no effort to; the decision to go in a different direction was pretty much made by the time the season ended.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 14, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Never liked Juan Dixon after UMD. He was the classic great college player that never could hack it in the pros. He had a handful of good games in the NBA, but he was a superstar at College Park. I think the wiz had 2 1st rounders the year he came out. We spent them on Jared Jeffries and Juan Dixon.I don't think this was a grunfeld move. It was Mike and the gang right? Jeez we've BLOWN some drafts.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | December 14, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

"Haywood is not tearing it up."

Posted by: djnnnou | December 14, 2010 3:26 PM

He's probably tearing up copies of the local papers and Sports Illustrated every time they run a piece about how important Tyson Chandler is to the Mavs and how he's help make them a contending team again.

Note to Chandler: You should probably think about shaving your head. Just to be on the safe side.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 14, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

It's just a winning atmosphere out here. They expect you win, expect you play well and we all hold each other accountable, which is nice."

Steve,

The Wizards have a losing atmosphere and the fans, GM, coach and owner expect them to lose.

The coach holds his players accountable for all of the teams woes which sucks!

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | December 14, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Took me a minute -- Weeks was Bubbles' protege on The Wire. Only white hype in the neighborhood.

Anybody here hasn't been through the 5 seasons of that show -- takes a couple episodes to get into it, but it's a remarkable body of work. Really a show about organizations vs the individual...
Posted by: Samson151

One of my all-time faves, and I thought the series finale / last show of the Wire was the best I've ever seen.

Posted by: ts35 | December 14, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Neither Steve Blake nor Juan Dixon was that highly thought of coming into college. Same with Lonny Baxter. The Terps over that span were always more of a team than just a talented roster. Maryland's core wound up getting drafted as high as they did based on how much they had won at the NCAA level.

The exception being Wilcox, and he hasn't done much in the NBA.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 14, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

kalo_rama wrote:
"Not quite. Blake left before Daniels arrived, so that was never an issue."

I suggest you to check the timeline. Wizards signed AD in August 2, 2005, while Blake didn't get the offer sheet from Blazers until September 19, 2005.

While the two have never played together, the writing is on the wall for Blake. Wizards didn't sign AD to play the 3rd PG.

Oh, BTW, here is the picture when the Wizards introduced AD (check out the date):
http://www.nba.com/wizards/news/daniels_050802.html

So AD did "arrive" before Blake Left.

Wizards wasn't unhappy with Blake, they just wanted a more experienced player (Blake was a 2nd roud pick, so he became FA after 2 yrs).

Posted by: sagaliba | December 14, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

"Neither Steve Blake nor Juan Dixon was that highly thought of coming into college. Same with Lonny Baxter. The Terps over that span were always more of a team than just a talented roster. Maryland's core wound up getting drafted as high as they did based on how much they had won at the NCAA level."

Posted by: Samson151 | December 14, 2010 4:40 PM


The same could be said of a lot of players coming out of college (esp. upperclassmen), even back when Blake was drafted. Would Shane Battier have been a lottery pick if he hadn't played at Duke? Or Kirk Hinrich at Kansas? That's just how it works. Besides, it's not like they used a lottery pick on him. If the Wizards hadn't taken him, he likely wouldn't have lasted past the middle of the second round. He went about where he should have (maybe a few spots a higher).

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 14, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

From SI.com on the Nets' immediate future:

"Avery Johnson believes his team has slipped, and it may be up to his GM to help out. With the Nets sitting last in the Eastern Conference, spiraling on a seven-game skid and fast approaching irrelevance, they acknowledge they need more consistency and general manager Billy King admits he needs to make more moves. ... King said he expects to make multiple moves before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. "We'll probably do some deals before the deadline, I'm pretty sure," King said. "When you have your record like we are, you've got to do some things to get better."

I'm guessing that includes serious consideration of Carmelo Anthony.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 14, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

I'm guessing that includes serious consideration of Carmelo Anthony.

Posted by: Samson151

Don't know if trading for him makes sense, given that they would likely have to give up multiple pieces (including Favors plus other stuff). Short of knowing what a new CBA might bring, they might be hamstringing themselves.

Posted by: ts35 | December 14, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

I'm guessing that includes serious consideration of Carmelo Anthony.

Posted by: Samson151

Don't know if trading for him makes sense, given that they would likely have to give up multiple pieces (including Favors plus other stuff). Short of knowing what a new CBA might bring, they might be hamstringing themselves.

Posted by: ts35 | December 14, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

After Howard's back, maybe we need to cut someone to sign another PG, because Wall will be in and out of lineup, and Gil's knee is having problem.

How about we just play KH and Gil at PG when Wall cant go, and dispense with the 6'3" SG's experiment? Howard has played plenty of SG in his career, and given we also have Nick and Cartier- there's no reason for such a long, athletic team to be constantly undersized on the floor.

Speaking of which, let's see Booker on Artest tonight rather than Nick.

Posted by: divi3 | December 14, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Is Josh Howard scheduled to play tonite?

Posted by: dargregmag | December 14, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

"Don't know if trading for him makes sense, given that they would likely have to give up multiple pieces (including Favors plus other stuff). Short of knowing what a new CBA might bring, they might be hamstringing themselves.Posted by: ts35"

As we say in the NBA, does that make it a done deal?

Posted by: Samson151 | December 14, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Avery Johnson believes his team has slipped...

Starting Humphries, and now Quinton Ross, might have something to do with that.

Posted by: djnnnou | December 14, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

The Nets are finding out that Brook Lopez really isnt that good.

Posted by: divi3 | December 14, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

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