Pro Basketball

Wizards Interview Thibodeau to Be Assistant

Thursday, June 21, 2007

According to two league sources, the Washington Wizards recently interviewed Tom Thibodeau for the assistant coaching position that was vacated by the retirement of Tom Young.

Thibodeau was the lead assistant under Jeff Van Gundy with the Houston Rockets for the last four seasons, but Van Gundy and his staff were fired after the Rockets lost in the first round of the playoffs.

Thibodeau also has a connection to Wizards President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld, who was the general manager of the New York Knicks when Thibodeau was an assistant there under Van Gundy.

The contracts for current assistants Mike O'Koren, Phil Hubbard, Wes Unseld Jr. and Bill Berry expire next month. Coach Eddie Jordan, who signed a three-year extension last summer, has said that he expects his staff to be retained.

Meantime, according to a league source, the Nets and Cavaliers are prepared to offer five-year contracts with a first-year salary of around $4 million to Wizards restricted free agent forward Andray Blatche when the free agency period opens July 1.

Should Blatche sign with another team, the Wizards would have seven days to match the offer and sources indicated yesterday that Grunfeld plans on keeping Blatche, who is entering his third season with the team.

Unless the Wizards clear space under the salary cap, they would have to use a chunk of their mid-level exception (a first-year salary starting around $5 million) to retain Blatche and that could hinder their ability to re-sign guard DeShawn Stevenson, who will opt out of his contract on July 1, or be active in the free agent market.

According to a league source, the Wizards are open to trading center Etan Thomas and guard Antonio Daniels, who will combine to earn around $12.1 million next season.

Also, former University of Virginia shooting guard J.R. Reynolds will be one of four players working out for the Wizards today at Verizon Center.

Reynolds, who averaged 18.4 points as a senior last season and finished his college career as Virginia's third all-time three-point shooter, has been projected as a possible second-round pick along with other local products such as former Maryland guard D.J. Strawberry, who will work out for the Wizards tomorrow, and former Virginia Tech point guard Zabian Dowdell.

Today's other workout players include point guard Aaron Brooks (Oregon), point guard Bobby Brown (Cal State Fullerton) and shooting guard Jarrius Jackson (Texas Tech). Brooks, who had a strong showing at the Orlando pre-draft camp, and Brown have been projected as possible second-round selections.

The Wizards hold the 16th and 47th picks in the June 28 draft.

Many of the workout players won't be drafted at all, but several could be invited to play for summer league squads. The Wizards open summer league play on July 10 in Las Vegas.

-- Ivan Carter

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