Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2 p.m. ET

The Washington Wizards

Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 21, 2007; 2:00 PM

Washington Post staff writer Michael Lee was online Wednesday, Feb. 21, at 2 p.m. ET to field your questions and comments about the Wizards and all the latest NBA news.

From The Post:

Wizards Coverage

The transcript follows.


Michael Lee: Hey, I'm back from Las Vegas, where I witnessed the worst All-Star Game in history and we're already headed into the final stretch. The trade deadline is tomorrow and there a lot of interesting names floating around, if not any actual trades. But with no further delay, let's go. . . .


Tampa, Fla.: Talk briefly about the NBA groupies scene in Vegas. And are the Thomas&Mack Center facilities up to par for an NBA team?

Michael Lee: To answer your second question, no. The Thomas & Mack Arena is not up to NBA standards. It's a dated, college arena and the locker rooms were so small, we couldn't even have pre-game media sessions with the players. If Las Vegas is serious about wanting a team, it will have to step up the way places like Oklahoma City and Kansas City already have, by building a state-of-the-art facility. I can hear James Earl Jones from "Field of Dreams" right now.

As for your second question. Wow. The all-star game not only attracts the best players, but also the most ambitious women seeking to get the best players. I saw some of the most ridiculous outfits I've ever seen. Women squeezing into tight leather catsuits; women with skirts almost up to their bellybuttons; women with close to nothing on at all; women who shouldn't be walking around with close to nothing at all. I also witnessed what had to be the largest rear end in history. You could've put a buffet table on that thing. But I'll just say, you really had to be there. Let me stop going before I say something that gets me in real trouble.


Falls Church, Va.: What are your thoughts on Gil's trampoline dunk, it only got a little bit of play on SportsCenter.

Michael Lee: The Gilbert trampoline dunk was more exciting than anything that occurred in the game. Lucky for him, he didn't go crashing into the glass. That would've been awful. It was classic Gilbert, though, taking a dare from Shaq and doing something silly. Two years ago, Shaq bet Gilbert $10,000 that he wouldn't take off his warmup in pre-game introductions and twirl it around his head. I still think Shaq owes him for that one, too. Gilbert says he's taking Shaq to People's Court. I can't imagine Shaq actually pays him the $100,000 this time, either.

I know some people said Gilbert was stupid for doing it, but hey he's the clown prince of the NBA right now. What he did was no more dangerous than LeBron James trying to throw a pass to himself off the glass and nearly killing himself when he collided with Amare Stoudemire and crashed to the floor. If he would've gotten hurt there. . .


Herndon, Va.: How will LeBron respond to the growing number of voices that are saying he's not playing up to his potential, and has regressed this year? Do either of you share this sentiment?

Michael Lee: I am one of those voices. I've said it in the blog a few weeks ago that I don't know what's going on with LeBron this season. He does appear to be regressing. He's not playing with the same energy, as if he's lost his joy in basketball. I'm hoping he snaps out of it. After Dwyane Wade called him out, LeBron put 38 on the Lakers last Thursday. So, maybe he will turn that corner. He just raised the bar so high after playing at an MVP level last season. I'm anxious to see how he plays in the second half of the season.


Tysons, Va.: Hi,

Question about Kobe Bryant - you stated earlier that Kobe is one of the most "disliked" NBA players by the fans. I totally agree with this unless you root for the Lakers.

How do the players view him these days? Is he still considered arrogant and unapproachable?

Michael Lee: That's a good question. I think the players have always respected Kobe for being one of, if not, the best in the game. And to Kobe, that appears to be his only concern. I think he knows that since the whole Shaq fiasco, there is nothing that he can really do to endear himself to all of the players in the NBA. He has a rep with most of them that won't go away. However, if he continues to eat their lunch in NBA games, they can hate all they want, but they will have to respect him. That's really all that he is playing for. What's love got to do, got to do with it.


Washington, D.C.: Do you see the Wizards making any move before the deadline tomorrow? Specifically, will Etan and Brendan still be teammates this weekend?

The return of Songaila, development of Blatche and the return of Ruffin have given the Wizards more front court depth than they have had all season.

Does this give the Wizards more flexibility to make a move?

Michael Lee: I would be surprised if Ernie makes a move. He has yet to make a deadline deal since he came to Washington and I don't know what move he could make right now. The thing with deadline deals is that you have to find the right fit and pray that it works out in the short term. The Wizards have pretty good team chemistry, the players (except Brendan and Etan) like each other. So, if you make a move, you have to be willing to shake it up. With the East being so wide open, I can't imagine he moves somebody.

For one, the Wizards don't have many chips to offer and if somebody was willing to take on Etan Thomas's contract, I think he'd be gone already. But that contract is a monstrosity when you look at his production.


Washington, D.C.: Jason Whitlock described All-Star weekend Vegas as a "war zone" and said there was "a lot of terror in Vegas over the weekend."

Did you experience that part of it? Any stories to relate?

Michael Lee: Nah. I can't say I witnessed the "war zone." I did see the large crowds and the loiterers. The taxi lines were an hour-long ordeal. I had several conversations with cab drivers who complained about people stiffing them on the bill. I was a bit shocked that there wasn't much security at the player's hotel, The Palms, and that because there was a casino, they couldn't shut down the hotel. But I wasn't dodging bullets. I just saw loads of wannabes and groupies. I remember hearing a woman at the casino upset that she was sitting around and yell, "I need to go find my meal ticket." I stayed at the MGM grad, which was a madhouse, but I did not see any stabbings or shootings, although I heard that there were a couple of incidents.


Chadds Ford, Pa.: I see Etan Thomas got 21 seconds more than Brendan Haywood last night. Are you expecting trouble at practice?

Michael Lee: That's a good one. But I heard that Etan said recently that everything was fine between him and Haywood, saying that they were "brothers." I hope he didn't mean Cain and Abel.


Silver Spring, Md.: Let's forget for a minute that Jamison is hurt. Weeks ago when people were asking "Why don't we trade Jamison, fill-in-the-blank, and a draft pick for Garnett," (like the Twolves would ever do that). I was suggesting something more realistic. Butler, Blatche, Hayes and a draft pick for Garnett. Garnett would give us the sorely needed low-post scorer while Butler, Blatche, Hayes and the pick would give the Wolves a young All-Star and some nice building blocks for the future. I know we would be trading young for old, but surely we would be a serious threat to win it all with a lineup that included Garnett, Arenas and Jamison.

Michael Lee: I've got something even better. Let's forget for a minute that Kevin Garnett is on the trading block. He is not. If anything happens with Garnett, it'll likely be this summer.


Reston, Va.: Why wouldn't KG comment on Blatche? Is he THAT frustrated by Minnesota's ineptitude?

Michael Lee: I was in the locker room when KG was talking or refusing to talk. He was really irked by Minnesota's play -- and the questions about Andray. I just think he didn't want to give the young boy any respect. If he says something about him, then he's acknowledging his existence. If he refuses to comment, he can prepare to bust his tail when they face each other in Minnesota on Sunday. Best believe KG will have something for young Dray.

KG was really short with us yesterday. He spoke for about two minutes, got up and walked over to the food buffet. When a reporter wanted to ask him a question about the game, KG said, "I'm done, dog."


Ashburn, Va. It seems that Kobe is trying to re-invent himself as a better teammate and attempting to be less of an arrogant jerk. How sincere is this Kafka-like metamorphosis?

Michael Lee: As sincere as people in the media try to make it out to be. I think what's happening with Kobe is more maturing than an actual metamorphosis. He has bought more into what Phil Jackson has to say because he respects him, but he still has his ball-hog moments. He can still crush the confidence of a teammate. He's still a bit of a loner. He is just more aware that he cannot do it all by himself. He's tried to do it alone and it's taken him nowhere. I don't think he has re-invented himself, though. That's taking it a bit far.


Alexandria, Va.: How do you think Andray Blatche's minutes will look once Jamison returns?

Michael Lee: He certainly won't be getting 20-25 minutes like he is now. I think it will be somewhere closer to what he was getting before, except he will produce more in that time. With Songaila back in the rotation, I would imagine that Eddie starts leaning more on his veterans during that final push. Jarvis Hayes, unfortunately, will probably be seeing a major crunch on his playing time.


Washington, D.C.: Guys -

Coach Jordan usually only plays seven or eight guys, but has expanded the rotation to about 10 or 11 since Jamison went down.

Which should we expect to see as the team heads for 50 wins?

Michael Lee: The rotation will get tighter. When Jamison went down, he had to experiment more to see what works. When Jamison gets back, expect to see a lot of Gilbert, DeShawn, Antawn, Caron, Brendan, Etan, Jarvis, Antonio and Songaila, with dashes of Blatche.


20010: To whoever wants to trade Carol Butler:

Are you out of your mind? Jamison is the vet leader, Arenas is the superstar, but Butler is the really the heart of the team.

These three are striking a delicate balance with respect to on the court and off the court roles.

I think any trade would involved Thomas or Haywood and maybe Hayes, but Blatche is just showing promise. Why get rid of him now?

Michael Lee: Thank you, 20010. I wanted to say that, but you beat me to it.


D.C.: Are there ANY rumors about the 'Zards getting involved with trades with the deadline tomorrow? It would seem Zach Randolph or AK-47 would be big men that could work here especially since they don't seem particularly happy where they are now. Drop Etan, AD, Blatche, Hayes to make it work?

Michael Lee: Sorry. The Wizards seem to be pretty quiet right now. I don't know if I've said this before, but it needs to be repeated if I did: The key to the Wizards is Gilbert Arenas. If he decides to play at a high level, his teammates follow. If he is shooting well, the team plays well. Look at last night. He scored a relatively easy 38 points (with the exception of going 1-for-8 from three) and the Wizards cruise. You have to remember that when the Wizards had a healthy Big Three in November, they were 4-9. Why? Because Gilbert was slumping. Trust me, if he turns it up, you won't have to worry much about trades.


Mclean, Va.: Hey Guys,

I have been impressed with the recent play of Darius Songaila. He seems to be getting his legs back and will be a major contributor for the playoff push.

Who pushed for his signing this offseason? He is a great fit with the Princeton offense. Looks like Ernie is doing one heck of a job.

Michael Lee: Ernie tried to sign Songaila two summers ago before Songaila settled for the Bulls. Ernie has always liked his game. It will be interesting to see how he fits once Jamison returns, but Songaila certainly provides some sorely needed hustle and aggression.


Silver Spring, Md.: Let's forget for a minute that Jamison is hurt.: Ok... so how about a trade for Gasol that involved Butler? Or how about the Garnett trade in the summer?

Michael Lee: I just don't see Memphis or Minnesota dealing with Washington regarding Gasol or Garnett. They would be trading Western Conference all-star forwards, so they would have to get something like that in return. I love Caron's game, but he wouldn't be an all-star in the West. And, the Wizards don't have enough side dishes to make something like that work.


Michael Lee: Wow. That was quick. I'm sorry I wasn't able to answer too many questions, but my time is up. I've got work to do, phone calls to make. See you next week.


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