Coach Flip Saunders plans to strike a balance between leaning heavily on his expected rotation players and giving his young players an opportunity to contribute when the Wizards play their first preseason game today against the Philadelphia 76ers.
With just two preseason games, the coaching staff doesn’t have much time to evaluate talent and also has to get prepared for the New Jersey Nets in the season opener on Dec. 26. Saunders said he would start John Wall, Jordan Crawford, Rashard Lewis, Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee.
“We have to play our main guys. We have to get ready — we play in a week,” said Saunders. “We have to get some experience. I just want to see us playing hard and I want to see if we’re carrying over, some of the things defensively.”
Although Maurice Evans’s signing is not yet official, Saunders spoke about the possible addition of the veteran forward, who agreed to return to the Wizards for a one-year deal worth the veteran minimum.
“Mo is a veteran player,” Saunders said. “He’s been with us. He understands what we want to do, how we want to play. He gives us great leadership in the locker room and he’s a very, very good defender. He’s someone I had in Minnesota, had in Detroit and had here. When we got him last year, we had a lot of success when he was in there.”
Roger Mason Jr. was happy about having another veteran to the roster, especially since the two are vice presidents of the players’ union and have spent plenty of time together negotiating the collective bargaining agreement. Saunders said having more veteran voices around can only help the Wizards – who have eight players on the roster age 23 and younger.
“I thought we had a good balance of both young and old, yet some of our veteran players are vocal players that will find ways to hold our other players accountable and not let guys slip. That’s always important in a locker room, when coaches step away, because we can’t be there 24-7, there are other people there holding the team together. The one thing you have to watch out for, with young players, they have to earn what they get. If they are just given things without work, it sends the wrong message.”