Wednesday, Nov. 22, 1 p.m. ET

The Washington Wizards

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Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, November 22, 2006; 1:00 PM

Washington Post staff writer Ivan Carter was online Wednesday, Nov. 22, at 1 p.m. ET to field your questions and comments about the Wizards.

From The Post:

Wizards Coverage

The transcript follows.


Ivan Carter: Well, that was an ugly one last night and like many of you, I'm trying to figure out what the heck I can expect from this team on a daily basis. Let's get to the chat


Washington, D.C.: Ivan -- Eddie is a disciple of the Princeton Offense, but I rarely see the offense being run. It absolutely infuriates me that this team loves to jack up jumpers as if they're going out of style. Everyone goes ga-ga over Gilbert, but I'm starting to wonder about his discipline and leadership skills. He doesn't play defense, and he's a bad fit for Eddie's offense. And why won't Antawn play with his back to the basket more? It drives me nuts.

Clearly, Caron is the guts of this team.

Ivan Carter: One of the things that really stood out to me about last night's game was the way Dallas moved the ball around and created a good shot - even if it was a quick one - during the third quarter while the Wizards jacked up the first shot available and many of them weren't even close to good. Gilbert gets much of the blame for that because he kept pulling shots either in transition with no one in rebounding position or after one pass. Dallas didn't have to work hard on defense, Caron Butler was never involved in the second half and Jamison is the kind of guy who is going to get impatient and throw something up quick once Gilbert starts controlling the ball. The offense, if you want to call it that, was utterly nonexistent last night. Give Dallas credit for the way they played. Nowitzki was on his game but did not force shots. In fact, he passed on a few when teammates had wide open ones and for the most part, the Mavs made them. The three-pointers by Austin Chroshere, Greg Buckner and Devin Harris in the third period were huge.


Richmond, Va. : Ivan, how can anyone defend the way Eddie Jordan utilizes Etan Thomas and Brendan Haywood? They were both making good contributions last night and Eddie has the brilliant idea of bringing Ruffin in during the third quarter.

Ruffin is not an NBA player, especially playing the 5. He is probably the worst offensive player in the NBA, and when he plays the 5 he brings no defensive presence to the paint.

Do you see the Wizards progressing under Eddie Jordan? I realize there are personnel deficiencies, especially the bench and the two-guard spot. But Eddie seems to make the same mistakes over and over. The team cannot play against a zone defense or play zone defense. We "defend" the paint, and allow wide open three-pointers and Eddie just says, "The other team made shots."

What is your most honest assessment of Eddie's progression as a coach?

Thanks Ivan.

Ivan Carter: First, I'll just throw out the facts: When Michael Ruffin and Antonio Daniels entered the game at the 7:33 mark of the 3rd quarter, the Wiz led 59-58. Dallas then closed the quarter on a 18-5 run and it was a wrap from there. For whatever reason, and I'll ask Eddie about it before tonight's game, Eddie did not play Haywood at all in the second half and he played Thomas only 4:27. I'm sure he'll bring up matchups but every indication so far this season is that the Wizards are better off with either of those two on the floor. Going small worked for a stretch against Detroit but in the end, the Wizards were unable to stop Rasheed Wallace from hurting them by posting up the smaller Antawn Jamison. The bottom line: teams are averaging 103.5 points per game on this team and getting any kind of shot they want so whatever Jordan is doing isn't working too well. I've said it before and I'll keep saying it: this team will go as far as its offense carries it. When they have cold shooting nights or nights when Gilbert breaks the offense and doesn't make threes, they are in big trouble.


Minneapolis: Hey Ivan,

Great coverage of the team!

I guess my concern at this point is that this team has actually digressed from last year and part of the problem is that despite all the talk of playing better D in the preseason the team is playing worse overall D in my opinion. Does Jordan not have the capacity to get these guys to at least remotely care about stopping somebody? As nice as it is to have a competitive NBA team in Washington, this team as it is presently put together will never be a serious contender. Arenas and Jamison are ATROCIOUS on the defensive end. Not even close to being average defensively and they are two of our best players. And, on offense, what happened to ball movement? I did not know the Princeton offense consisted of one or two passes and a jacked up shot.

What do you think?


Happy T-Day

Ivan Carter: My thoughts on the defense are clear. Other than forcing turnovers and turning those into points while getting some physical presence from Haywood and Thomas (when they are on the floor) I don't see this particular collection of athletes ever morphing into a defensive-minded unit. It's just not going to happen. Last night, ball movement and quick first-side jump shots were a major problem. When the ball doesn't move and guys miss those long jumpers it always seems to lead to long rebounds and easy buckets the other way. Plus, this team clearly gets whatever defensive energy it has from its offense. When shots are going down and they are flowing at that end, the D picks up. When the shots aren't falling and there is no flow, the D sags.


The Matador, a.k.a. A.J.: Please tell me that the Wizards would consider trading Jamison. I nearly pulled my hair out watching the first game of the season when LeBron blew right by Jamison in the last couple of minutes. Jamison's feet were GLUED to the floor, and he actually had the nerve to STICK HIS HAND OUT! Like that was going to stop him!

I figure that if they traded him (and got some value for him), it would send the right signal that this team is serious about playing some D. Don't get me wrong, I actually think Jamison is underrated, but his defense is maddening.

Also, someone needs to commit a hard foul every once in a while. You can't let Devin Harris get into the lane time and time again. I understand that this is an offensive minded team, and that is the way the league is going. But, the Mavs didn't get to the Finals until Avery Johnson got them to play some D.

Ivan Carter: Every time this team loses a game, I get e-mails, chat questions, faxes, phone calls, text messages and letters via the pony express demanding that Ernie trade Antawn Jamison. Sure, no problem. Just get some team to pick up the $16 million he's owed next season. Any takers? Didn't think so. My point: AJ is what AJ is, a solid all-around guy who can give you 20 and 9 but is a below average rebounder and will have shooting nights colder than my native Minneapolis (and that's pretty damn cold). I highly doubt that any team in this league - and this includes teams that are run by Kevin McHale, Isiah Thomas and Danny Ainge - are going to pick up that kind of tab for a player like Jamison even if they view it as a future salary dump. He's here. All season. And next.


Bonifay, Fla.: Is there a D-League connection, now that Roanoke is kaput? The Wiz have three candidates, especially Lang who has not played at all, and Blatche who is shooting 1 for 8.

Ivan Carter: The new D-league affiliate is in Bismarck North Dakota. The North Dakota Wizards they are called and the season opens in a few days. I would guess that Lang would be the logical candidate right now because he's always inactive and they view him as a long term project. Plus, once Darius Songaila comes back, there will be less room. Not so sure about Blatche. I'll have to talk to Ernie and Eddie about that. He hasn't been in the rotation yet and I don't see him getting in there anytime soon so why not? Then again, being sent to Bismarck might crush him -- he was pretty keyed up to help out this season.


Rockville, Md.: Ivan, what's the latest on Songaila?

Ivan Carter: Darius attended Saturday's game against the Cavs and sat on the bench. It was the first time he'd been out of the house since undergoing back surgery back on Nov. 2. He said he's feeling "better" and sounded far more encouraged than he did before the surgery. The team hasn't set a timetable but from what I've been able to pick up from being around the team, they aren't expecting him to be on the court playing until around the all star break. I plan on talking to him and getting an update when we get back from the trip because he stayed home to continue rehab work.


Bowie, Md.: I'll tell you what. As good as Arenas is, they will win nothing if he's going to keep shooting at will without getting his teammates involved. During the third quarter last night, there was a sequence where, for at least three consecutive possessions, he just came down the court with the ball and jacked up a three, sometimes hit, but mostly miss. This type of ball is boring, and the Wizards have had a boring team for the last three years.

Ivan Carter: Having a guy like Gilbert is that classic double-edged sword. When he gets it going, as he did against Boston, Indiana and Cleveland at home, the Wizards are ridiculously hard to beat but when he thinks he has it going, like last night, and he keeps missing, they are big, big trouble. Caron and Antawn are also rhythm offensive players and when they aren't involved, they tend to break the offense when they do get the ball and they force bad shots. And then you have the snowball effect. Caron was clearly ticked off last night and you could tell by his body language and post-game comments that he wasn't thrilled with Gilbert's 1 against 5 approach. If you read my story today and I know you did (just playing, but seriously, read the Post), you may have read this quote from Caron: "We have to look in the mirror and realize that we are only successful when everyone is involved. That's the only way we can win."

You can go ahead and assume that Caron was talking about Agent Zero right there. DeShawn Stevenson said very much the same thing.


Las Vegas, Nev.: Ivan,

How do you rate DeShawn Stevenson's performance thus far, and what are the odds of him sticking around beyond this year.

Ivan Carter: I like what I've seen from him especially for the role they've asked him to play. He doesn't take bad shots, he makes good decisions with the ball in the half-court and has made some really nice plays in transition, he's a good defender and he's a good teammate. For less than $1 million, the guy is a steal. Him sticking around will depend entirely upon how happy he is in Washington and what he asks for in free agency. Ernie's history has been to pay guys if he feels they are worth the money. He took care of Caron, took care of Antonio Daniels, took care of Brendan early and was prepared to match New York's offer for Jeffries when Stevenson fell into his lap.


Bethesda, Md.: Since Eddie has been here, this team has not played defense and rarely has a set rotation. How much of this is due to talent, injury or Jordan's coaching?

Ivan Carter: My belief on that is pretty simple: Defensive-minded teams are built around defensive-minded players. San Antonio has Bruce Bowen and Tim Duncan. The Pistons had Ben Wallace and Rasheed. Either you have 'em or you don't. The Wizards don't. Therefore, they have to win with what they do best: push the ball, take good shots and get at least one of the big three hot. For all of their firepower, the big three have each missed some big momentum-type shots and that in turn, has put pressure on the defense.


Washington, D.C.: With Shaq out, is this the season the Wizards finally get a win against the Heat to break their current losing streak?

Ivan Carter: They both have bigger problems than one another right now. Miami has been awful and the Wiz are underachieving big time. They don't meet until Dec. 15. Who knows where they will be by then. I'm paid to cover this team and I've seen it up close every day since camp started and I can't figure 'em out to save my life.


Washington, D.C.: Ivan, what is the deal with not being able to win on the road? Is it just some sort of mental block? These are grown men who are professionals, I just don't understand how playing in a different city in a different arena can affect them so much.

Ivan Carter: Maybe they need to stay at a Holiday Inn.....You know, it may sound simple but it all goes back to the big dog, Gilbert. When he's on, and he's been on at home, they are on. When he's off, and he's been off on the road, they struggle. Now, I have no idea why he's struggled so badly away from Verizon Center. He's not a rookie or even a young player anymore. You would think that a guy like him with his passion for overcoming the haters would feed off of playing in hostile environments. I don't honestly have a good answer beyond that.


Baltimore: Hey Ivan,

Great coverage on the Wiz! You mentioned in your blog today that you heard Avery Johnson jump all over his team a few minutes into the game. My question is, have you ever heard Eddie Jordan do this? Do you think he needs to light a fire under the players every once in a while?

Ivan Carter: I've seen Eddie get into his guys but for the most part, I get the sense that he's trying to be more encouraging than anything else right now until this team finds its legs and figures out what's what.


Takoma Park, Md.: Ivan,

You kind of skirted around the question about Eddie you think (and more importantly do the players and Ernie Grunfield think) that Eddie Jordan is the right guy to lead this team into the future?

Ivan Carter: Well, Abe Pollin and Ernie gave Eddie a three-year contract extension last summer so what I think doesn't matter. For what it's worth, I think the man is a damn good coach. He's getting heat, as the head man should, for his team's inconsistent play but to me, most of that goes on the players themselves. In Cleveland, Eddie draws up a play that gets Jamison a wide open look at a potential game-tying three pointer and Jamison misses. In Orlando, Arenas, Jamison and Butler each missed wide-open shots down the stretch. Against Detroit, Eddie has success going with a small lineup and Gilbert allows Lindsey Hunter to beat him back door and get a three-point play after making a layup. Last night, Gilbert shot his team out of the game. Now, you can always argue that the coach is responsible but at some point, players have to make plays. Fans are within their rights to seriously question his use of Etan and Brendan last night however. Not seeing how Etan doesn't get off the pine in the second half after a decent start while Brendan played only four minutes after providing some inside presence in the second quarter.


Farmington, Conn.: Ivan,

Why haven't any of the Wizards draft picks really materialized into stars? Haywood is a soft interior player, Hayes is a talented but oft-injured player who hasn't been a solid started since draft day, Blatche is all potential still. How do teams like the Spurs and Mavs end up getting steals like Manu Ginobli and Devin Harris, while we end up with junk year after year? We're not quite as bad as the Redskins with needing to go after other teams free agents, but look at our starters, only one was drafted by the team.

Ivan Carter: Damn, when did I start covering the Redskins? Folks are ticked off. Ernie's draft decisions and the ultimate direction of this team will hinge on the development of Andray Blatche and Oleksiy Pecherov, who is playing in Ukraine. If those two work out, he will have the kind of long, versatile lineup that will be the wave of the NBA future. If not, it's back to the drawing board.


D-Bonics, A-town, Va.: The Wizards front office needs to take a serious look at getting rid of Eddie Jordan. Over the past three years the Wizards have not improved and actually regressed. What is you opinion of bringing in a new coach?

Ivan Carter: More thoughts on Eddie. Didn't this guy just take this franchise, which hadn't pissed a drop in decades, to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons? Am I missing something here? Who do you want to hire? Sam Mitchell? Flip Saunders after he's fired in Detroit? Isiah Thomas? Larry Brown? Bill Fitch? Leonard Hamilton? Gene Shue? Kevin Loughery?


Arlington, Va.: Come on Ivan, give us an update on Peter John Ramos! Where is he? What's he doing?

Ivan Carter: Great question. I have no idea but I'll ask around.


Capital Centre Drive, Landover, Md.: Who do you think on the bench has the potential to contribute more than they are? Stephenson is serviceable at the two guard, but his game seems limited. Could Mason or Taylor step up? Athletically, Taylor seems awesome. But his game does not appear to be that confident. I don't see any inside scorer on the roster unless Haywood goes to see the Wizard of Oz and gets some courage.

Ivan Carter: If Jarvis Hayes continues to struggle shooting the ball over the course of the next few weeks, you might see more of Mason and/or Taylor. However, I don't see Eddie panicking quite yet. It's still early.


Star-Crossed Guards: Ivan, thanks for taking my questions.

Steph Marbury and Steve Francis are both off to awful starts for the Knicks. Have they lost it, or is it a matter that they can't work together?

My follow up to that is when I look at Marbury, Francis and Baron Davis, I see the same guy. Is that fair, cause all three of these lead guards don't elevate anybody's game but their own. Meanwhile, here's Chris Paul, in his second year, ballin'. In turn, David West is playing well, and Tyson Chandler is contributing.

Help me understand why Chris Paul gets it and those other three guards don't.

Ivan Carter: Chris Paul is pure a point guard as anyone I've seen since Jason Kidd came out of Cal. Those other guys, and this includes Arenas, a born scorers who think score first, pass second. Huge difference. Other than Chauncey Billups, who took a long time and several teams to make the change, I can't think of too many cases where a scorer morphed into a traditional point guard. It's sort of like the thing with NFL wide receivers. Once a second receiver, always a second receiver. Or, as the 'Skins are discovering with Antwan Randle-El, once a third receiver/punt returner, always a third receiver/punt returner.


Gaithersburg, Md.: Any updates on how our two European draft picks are doing in their respective leagues?

Ivan Carter: Pecherov has been out with a bruised thigh and missed his team's 9-0 start in the Ukrainian league. I haven't heard about the second round pick, Vladimir Veremeenko, but I'll check on him and get an update in the paper or on my blog.


Columbia, Md.: Hey Ivan,

Do you think Eddie will find some more minutes for Blatche in the near future? Even in garbage time last night he was hustling, grabbing rebounds, and making nice passes. I just see him as another tall, versatile option off the bench. Against teams like Dallas, with so many versatile big men themselves, I think he would be valuable.

Ivan Carter: The one way Andray could earn himself some minutes is if he comes out and plays with the energy he played with last night. If he grabs rebounds, Eddie will have to play him. Heck, Eddie would love to play him if he'd start beastin' on the boards. This team needs that badly. He's young, he's got bounce in his step and he has some nice skills.


McLean, Va.: Who will be shown the door first -- Brendan or Etan?

Ivan Carter: Whoever wins the next fight. No, I have zero idea. Does either player have true trade value right now? Perhaps Brendan but his contract is so reasonable, I don't see Ernie moving him.


Ivan Carter: Folks, I'm working on four hours of sleep and am in desperate need of a nap and a shave before tonight's game. I'm outta here like Gilbert's jump shot last night.


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