By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
The Washington Wizards gave Coach Eddie Jordan a vote of confidence yesterday, picking up an option that will keep him under contract with the club through the 2009-10 season.
Jordan, who is entering his sixth season as the team's head coach, signed a three-year contract extension before the 2006-07 season. The decision to pick up Jordan's option is a clear sign that team owner Abe Pollin and President Ernie Grunfeld are pleased with the job performed by Jordan and his staff.
The Wizards have made four consecutive trips to the playoffs under Jordan. He has compiled an overall regular season record of 196-214 in five seasons.
Last season, when three-time all-star guard Gilbert Arenas was limited to 13 games because of knee injuries and various injuries limited two-time all-star forward Caron Butler to 58 games, Jordan guided the Wizards to a 43-39 regular season record and the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
With Arenas still hobbled by a left knee injury, the Cleveland Cavaliers eliminated the Wizards in the first round of the playoffs for the third consecutive season.
"Eddie has done an outstanding job and has been instrumental in making us a perennial playoff team, so we are pleased to reward that success by picking up the option on his contract," Grunfeld said in a statement released by the team. "We are very excited about the upcoming season and feel that this team is ready to progress to another level under Eddie's leadership."
The Wizards will open training camp on Saturday at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond and open the regular season Oct. 29 at Verizon Center against the New Jersey Nets.
Jordan, the longest-tenured coach in the Eastern Conference and the third-longest tenured coach in the NBA behind San Antonio's Gregg Popovich and Utah's Jerry Sloan, will open camp knowing that Arenas is expected to be out for at least the first month of the regular season and possibly longer.
Arenas underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee last week and said he expects to be out until at least December.
"I'd like to thank Abe Pollin and Ernie Grunfeld, my assistants and their players for their confidence in me and for putting the pieces in place for us to continue to build on what we've already accomplished," Jordan said in a statement. "This team has proven it can compete at an elite level, and I have high expectations for what we can achieve moving forward."
Grunfeld and Jordan are scheduled to meet with the media and discuss the upcoming season during a news conference today at Verizon Center.
Wizards Notes: The team also announced that it signed power forward Taj McCullough, and small forwards DerMarr Johnson and Linton Johnson to training camp contracts.
A Washington native, DerMarr Johnson has appeared in 344 games over seven NBA seasons during stints with the Hawks, Knicks, Nuggets and Spurs.
Linton Johnson has appeared in 141 games in five NBA seasons during stints with the Bulls, Spurs, Nets, Hornets, Knicks, Raptors and Suns. McCullough, a rookie from Winthrop, played on Washington's summer league team.
The Wizards have 17 players under contract; teams are allowed to carry a maximum of 15 players on the regular season roster.