Thursday, March 1, Noon p.m. ET

The Washington Wizards

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Ivan Carter and Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 1, 2007; 12:00 PM

Washington Post staff writers Michael Lee and Ivan Carter were online Thursday, March 1, at noon ET to field your questions and comments about the Wizards and all the latest NBA news.

From The Post:

Wizards Coverage

The transcript follows.

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Michael Lee: Okay, so I'm running a little late. No time for a long intro, so let's go. . .

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D.C.: Superstars pick up other facets of their games when their shot is off, such as playing tougher D, getting rebounds, or setting up other guys. What's our superstar doing?

Ivan Carter: Here's the deal: Gilbert's shot has been off since the Toronto game and without Antawn, he's really struggling to find other ways to do his thing. When that J isn't falling, Gilbert almost has look like he doesn't know what to do. He's not a pure point guard, we all know that, but he's a good enough penetrator and good enough playmaker to make it up for it in other ways.

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Washington, D.C.: Ivan and Michael:

Your thoughts on the single coverage of Shaq last night? I thought it was a very good move. Jordan had the Wizards doubling Shaq at the outset, and Shaq killed them with good passing. He then let Haywood cover him one-on-one, and while Haywood didn't shut him down, he's a good enough defender to make sure Shaq can't beat the Wizards by himself. You need to shut down the other guys, though, and it was those other guys who beat the Wizards -- especially Haslem getting 7 offensive rebounds.

Ivan Carter: I liked the strategy and thought it was the thing to do, particularly after the Heat were knocking down outside shots early. The Wiz lost because they couldn't throw it in the ocean (again). Pure and simple. If Gilbert has a 10 of 18 with three or four threes, that game is a Wiz win.

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Clarendon, Va.: Gents,

Do Gilbert's struggles without a strong second and third scoring option indicate that he is a good player but not an upper echelon player like a Kobe or a Dwayne Wade or a LeBron? Don't get me wrong, Gilbert is a stud, but he does not appear to have the ability to step up under adversity like some of the established superstars do.

Ivan Carter: Gilbert asked for the shoe deal, the commercials, the starting spot in the All Star game, the attention, the adulation, the party, the rep, etc. Basically, he asked for superstar status and now he has to learn to deal with everything that comes with it. When you lose, you have to answer for it and whether accurate or not, you're going to get the blame. That's the way it's always been and he's going to have to adjust.

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Laurel, Md.: What has happened to Antonio Daniels? It seems that Eddie has lost confidence in him and it really hurts to not have any production from him without Jamison and now Butler.

Michael Lee: Eddie has lost confidence in Daniels because Daniels gave him good reason. Did you see his production in February? Daniels has scored just 23 points and shot 20 percent (5 of 25) in nine games. I can't fault Eddie for sitting him, especially if Roger Mason is giving him something when he plays. Antonio is taking the reverse route from last season, when he had a slow start and came on strong in the second half. But I think once the Wizards' injury issues are resolved and the roster settles, Eddie will lean on him more, especially in the playoffs.

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Fort Washington, Md.: What update information have you received on the timetable of Jamison's return?

Ivan Carter: I'm waiting for practice to get out right now. Antawn and Caron participated and from what I heard last night, both will be available tomorrow night against Atlanta. I'll know more in a bit.

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Tampa, Fla.: What did Antonio Daniels do to get in EJ's doghouse? Or was it the result of Roger Mason's recent stellar play?

Ivan Carter: Eddie said he wasn't playing very well. He shot badly in February, Mason's been knocking down shots and Eddie's just searching for the right answers. I'm sure that you'll see AD get his shot here soon but Mason has earned some minutes with his recent shooting touch.

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Alexandria, Va.: I'm not hating on the Wiz and certainly not Agent Zero, but 3-18 is horrendous. That's just bad dude.

Now the the MVP talk is done, can we get back to winning some basketball games. I don't want to see the Wizards fade and then go limping into the playoffs.

Injuries are tough, but c'mon, lets buck up at home at least.

Thanks for the ink fellas.

Ivan Carter: I'll just run this one as is. About sums up the attitude in Wiz land right now doesn't it?

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Bailey's Crossroads: What is the morale of the team? Can they withstand the pressure from Miami and the departure of James Lang?

Michael Lee: Who cares about Miami? You know James Lang's departure will really be hard to overcome. The man affectionately known as "Jang-a-lang" was well on his way to reaching a P.J. Ramos-type cult following in this town. The players enjoyed picking on him about his eating habits or being a rookie. He provided great blog material. I don't know how they will replace him. You see they are 0-1 since he was cut.

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Lexington, Va.: How much of Gilbert's shooting slump is attributable to his shoulder? Any guess when it's going to get better?

Ivan Carter: He's talked about how that shoulder has bothered him for awhile now, at least going back to the game at Milwaukee Dec. 30 when he collided with Ruben Patterson's shoulder. He describes it as more of an annoyance than sharp pain but clearly something isn't right with his stroke and hasn't been for awhile. He's 19 of 101 from long range since the game at Toronto.

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Springfield, Va.: I'm sure everyone is worried about the Wizards slump. Don't you think it's better to go through this now, as opposed to right before the playoffs? As long as they get healthy, everything will be fine.

Ivan Carter: Once they get the Big 3 back, intact and healthy, everything will be fine. If not, they're going to have issues. That's just how this team has been put together. They aren't even like a team like Miami, a team that hangs its hat on defense and rebounding in the absence of D Wade. The Wiz are what they are: The Big 3 score and everyone else chips in where they can.

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Washington, D.C.: Ivan, do you ever play ball with other NBA beat writers? If so, who's got the best game?

Ivan Carter: Mike Lee is okay but is quickly getting into veteran sportswriter shape. John Mitchell can't play a lick. And what can I say about Mike Wise that hasn't been said about Paul Mokeski? Wise is like a homeless man's Mokeski only he's more of a hack.

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Washington, D.C.: Jarvis' great game the other night is like the worst thing that can happen to the Wizards. Now Eddie will be convinced (yet again) to keep playing that talentless hack, dooming us all to another few months of watching him shoot 3-14 on a nightly basis. Ugh.

Ivan Carter: Jarvis is struggling, I'll put it that way. However, without Caron and Antawn, Eddie doesn't really have much of a choice but to play him and hope he breaks out of this season-long slump.

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Reston, Va.: Can we put a electronic collar around Jarvis and shock him every time he attempts a three-point shot? Maybe this will make him drive more.

It might as well be a turnover every time he pulls up for a three.

Ivan Carter: That about sums up the public feelings about my man Jarvis right about now.

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Vegas baby: Gentleman,

Explain to me how a football player who "makes it rain" has helped cause this great firestorm in BASKETBALL. Vegas is what it is! Can you help me understand where all this outrage is coming from about All-Star Weekend? To me, it makes no sense, and is completely overblown. Your thoughts.....

Michael Lee: I just think the crowd that the NBA attracts for All-Star Weekend (i.e. mostly black) really intimidates a large portion of the mainstream press (i.e. mostly white). A lot of the criticism about what occurred in Vegas was a bit overblown, but some of it was justified because there were people acting like fools out there. However, none of those people were NBA players. The NBA can't control who comes to its events, but they can keep their players in line, which they have.

It reminded me of the time when the All-Star Game was in Atlanta the same weekend when pimps from around the country had their annual "Player's Ball." Someone in the Atlanta media confused the "Player's Ball" with the NBA Players Association Party and blasted the entire league, which was pretty terrible. It also prompted union chief Billy Hunter to declare, with a straight face, "Our players are not pimps!"

But as long as the league is predominantly black, every incident that can be perceived as negative will reflect poorly on the entire league, which is unfair. Look at the whole fighting incident last December in New York. If that happens in hockey, they say it's part of the game and fans will go berserk rooting it on. In the NBA, these guys are thugs and hooligans running wild if they push each other. It isn't fair, but neither is life.

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Silver Spring, Md.:"Eddie has lost confidence in Daniels because Daniels gave him good reason.'

So why hasn't Eddie lost confidence in Jarvis "SharpShooter" Hayes? Man he stinks.

Michael Lee: Eddie sort of has no choice but to stick with Jarvis now that Caron and Antawn are hurt, but trust me, Jarvis has not been nearly as bad as AD was last month. I know it seemed like it -- because Jarvis did stink it up too -- but Jarvis actually was better and even though his shot isn't falling, he does do little things on defense, which Eddie takes into consideration.

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San Jose, Calif.: Do you think the local media is discriminating enough in its coverage of the Wizards? The franchise hasn't had sustained success like this in 30 years, but that doesn't mean that hard questions shouldn't be asked. It seems like there's an attitude of complacency.

Ivan Carter: Actually, I think we've asked the tough questions and addressed the ups and downs of what is a pretty good basketball team. Do you want me to go up to Eddie and ask him: "Eddie, why don't you cut Jarvis Hayes right now?"

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Anonymous: Why do the Wizards lack the killer instinct at critical times, i.e. early third quarters and late in the game, the intensity and defense are not there. Why? Is it the coach, the players, overconfidence, what?

Ivan Carter: Right now, they lack true top line talent. Without Caron and Antawn, this team simply is going to struggle.

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Washington, D.C.: Ivan and Mike, when will there ever be a good basketball movie? Judging by his performance in Eastern Motors commercials, Brendan Todd would make a great lead.

Ivan Carter: That's funny.

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D.C.: Does Jarvis Hayes have the prettiest bad shot in NBA history? I've never seen a guy with a stroke like that throw up so many bricks.

Michael Lee: D.C. You might be on to something. I think the reason why Jarvis keeps shooting is because he's so in love with how his shot looks. But I hope somebody reminds him that when he scored a season-high 21 in New Jersey, he mixed it up by posting up and driving to the basket. He has to do more if he plans to score. Perfect form on a jumper does you no good if it doesn't drop.

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Washington, D.C.: I disagree with the earlier anti-Jarvis posters. My complaints about Jarvis this season were that all he was doing was taking ill-advised shots. He wasn't doing the little things. That seemed to change the last couple of games -- he was rebounding, passing, getting deflections, etc. Hopefully these last two games will be a turning point for him.

Michael Lee: Wow. People are crazy about Jarvis today, huh?

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D.C.: Has Blatche done enough to still be in the rotation when Jamison and Butler are healthy? He looked shaky the last few games and he has continued to make stupid passes.

Ivan Carter: Andray is what Andray is right now: raw and inexperienced. He's going to have strong moments like the play when he went coast to coast and scored on a pretty layup at Minnesota Sunday and others when he makes a questionable decision and throws the ball away. That's life with a 20-year-old who basically missed his rookie season.

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Logan Circle: Why didn't the Wizards make a move at the deadline? I could see Kirilenko as a good fit for the squad (some much-needed D). Wouldn't shipping Jampson to Utah have made sense? You KNOW Jamison has a good moving company in his Rolodex.

Michael Lee: I thought we addressed this: How many more Antawn trades are we going to have to talk about? Look, Utah wasn't going to trade Kirilenko for Jamison. They have the fourth-best record in the league and . . . you know what? I'm not even going to explain it any further. Just stop it with Antawn, people. The Wizards need the guy, okay?

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Lexington, Va.: Could you give us a scouting report on Mike Hall?

Ivan Carter: A true small forward type. Active. Hustles on defense and scraps for rebounds and loose balls. A very willing on-the-ball defender. Energetic. Showed a decent mid-range jump shot in the preseason but didn't look to drive much. Good in transition.

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Washington, D.C.: Watching Blatche, it's still a question of how good he can get, but the talent and youth are there. How did this guy nearly fall out of the draft?

Michael Lee: Well, there were concerns about his attitude and maturity. He also didn't start playing basketball until really late, so they didn't know what they were getting. But don't get ready to annoint Blatche as anything yet. He still has a lot to prove and to improve on in this league, but it's not unusual for general managers to make mistakes. Ben Wallace and Bruce Bowen both went undrafted completely.

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D.C.: With 20 seconds left in the second quarter last night, Gilbert received the inbound and proceeded to milk the clock before going one on one against Posey. Posey proceeded to steal the ball from Arenas who flopped on the ground. Luckily, Jarvis got back and his presence caused Posey to miss the dunk. Why didn't Jordan try to run a play instead of having Gilbert go one on one?

Ivan Carter: When Gilbert made thrilling game winners and end-of-quarter shots, it was in that situation. Eddie got him the ball, spread everyone out and let him do his thing.

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Washington, D.C.: In your assorted years of covering this franchise, what's been your single favorite moment? The worst? My money's on Gilbert's shot versus Milwaukee and the Ike Austin trade, respectively.

Ivan Carter: In my two years covering the team, it had to be Gil's shot against the Cavs in the playoffs last year. Unreal moment.

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Washington, D.C.: Man, reading these posts--I feel for Jarvis and the rest of the Wiz. I'm concerned too, but still grateful after all of the Ledell Eackles-Don McLean-Pervis Ellison teams of yesteryear.

What do you two think was the single moment that turned the Wiz around? Eddie Jordan or Grunfeld? Arenas or Jamison? Even some ripple effect from MJ?

Michael Lee: I know our trusted trade machine people will kill me for this, but you have to look at the arrival of Antawn as the true turning point for the franchise. Of course, Ernie brought in Jamison and Gilbert, and Eddie has coached them up, but Antawn is the only guy who has never missed the playoffs as a member of the Wizards. The other guys went 25-57 that first year. All of the pieces added up. Eddie got here, then Ernie got here, then Gilbert signed as a free agent. But you asked for the single event: that was getting Antawn. He was glue that brought it all together.

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Seattle: Good morning, where do you think the Wiz would be now if they'd drafted Tyson Chandler instead of Kwame? I'd like to think good things would have happened... except of course no Kwame means no Butler....

Michael Lee: You know that's a hard question. You're right, you wouldn't have Butler, but you also have to wonder what Michael Jordan would've done to damage Chandler's ego early. Would Chandler have become the ridiculous rebounder he is today if he had Michael mentally scarring him? I will say this, Chandler would fit in much better with the squad that was assembled in 2004-05 than Kwame did. Chandler loves to play defense and doesn't want shots. Kwame's last year, he needed shots in order to play defense. It certainly is an interesting thought, though. Chandler certainly is what the Wizards lack.

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Sunday Games: Can you share some insight on this mess ABC is throwing out at us. Let me make sure I understand this, ABC has the rights to all games on Sunday shown between the times of 12-6 and if they don't like the matchup they can black the game out in local markets?

Is this right? With Sunday games against GS, Miami, Milwaukee and Chicago, we stand to have four more games without TV.

This is absurd. What can we do to change this?

Ivan Carter: No, actually there is only one more game that won't be on TV. That's at Milwaukee on April 1. The others are being picked up by either NBA TV or ABC.

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Alexandria, Va.: What happens to Blatche and Songaila when Jamison and Butler come back? I assume Songaila will get more minutes since he is a vet. I fear Blatche will go back to not getting meaningful minutes.

Ivan Carter: Just got done talking to Eddie. He said that barring any overnight problems, both Caron and Antawn will start tomorrow night against Atlanta. I see Songaila continuing to get minutes, something in the 13-15 minute range. Blatche, I don't know about.

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Ivan Carter: Just spoke with Caron. He said he's going tomorrow night. the back is feeling better. He wanted to go last night but it was still tight and he didn't want to risk making it worse.

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Washington, D.C.: I know Eddie Jordan and Grunfeld played in the league, but have no idea how good they were. My guess is no better than above average -- it seems like the best players make mediocre coaches and evaluators (MJ, Isiah, Magic), and vice versa. Can you tell us about their playing careers?

Michael Lee: Well, when those guys played, the only time I dribbled was when I was eating, but I'll try to help as much as I can. After starring in "The Bernie and Ernie Show" as an All-American at Tennessee with Bernard King and earning a spot on the '76 Olympic team, Ernie Grunfeld became a solid role player in nine seasons in Milwaukee, Kansas City and New York. He averaged 7.4 points and had a career-high 12.7 points in 1983 with the Kansas City Kings before finishing his career with the Knicks.

Eddie Jordan was a slightly better scorer than Ernie, averaging 8.1 points in seven seasons with Cleveland, New Jersey and the Lakers. He led the league in steals in 1979. I hope that helps. And, thanks for making do some quick research for the chat.

If I cant get to your questions, it's this guy's fault, everybody.

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Washington, D.C.: Michael:

I would disagree somewhat but also agree on the turning point. Michael Jordan's decision to get rid of all the older players with bloated contracts and start from scratch was the real turning point for the franchise, which was always making incremental, make-do moves year after year. That set up the cap room that got them Gilbert.

Jamison's arrival, however, changed the mindset on the court, and the record bears that out. So, in my mind, Jordan's cap management and Jamison's arrival were the two key turning points.

Michael Lee: I was asked to pick one. That was hard. But good post.

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Mt. Rainier, Md.: I wish some of these "part time" GMs just stop with all these trades. They will be the same ones who will rip the Wizards a new one if those same "trades" blow up in their faces. Last night's loss was because they couldn't hit a clutch shot at ALL in the fourth quarter. What do you think?

Michael Lee: It definitely wasn't because they didn't trade Antawn.

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Washington, D.C.: Has someone asked Gilbert, "Why's your shot off?," and if so, what does he say?

Ivan Carter: He doesn't really have any easy answers. He says the shoulder bugs him but not all that bad. He says he's getting good looks, the same ones he was getting earlier in the season, but they just aren't dropping. He's sort of at a loss to explain, that is, when he does explain. He hasn't been talking after games lately and he didn't make himself available today either.

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Washington, D.C.: Mike, you wrote that great series on basketball in the U.S./abroad last year. What are your thoughts on the AAU circuit: Boon to players' development or fraught with problems?

Michael Lee: Thanks. There are several horror stories with AAU, but the problem with the development of American players goes beyond that. I think it's a good idea that the leaders of the NCAA, NBA and other basketball entities are thinking about an academy to help cure some of the ills of amateur hoops, but the AAU is just one problem. Once you have these shoe companies, agents and hangers on posing as coaches in the pictures, it really messes things up. But AAU isn't all bad. It has helped a number of players get the proper exposure to receive college scholarships. And, the situation in Europe isn't perfect either. Some of the same issues are beginning to creep up over there. We just need to work on developing coaches in this country. That's the main issue. If the younger coaches are forced to get some sort of accreditation and focus more on fundamentals and skills, the kids will have no choice but improve.

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Ivan Carter: Folks, I have to roll and get interviews from practice. Thanks for dropping in.

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Antwan Trade: You mean the 'Zards couldn't trade Jamison to the Suns for Nash, Stoudemire, and Marion straight up? Man, now I'm bummed!

Michael Lee: Funny. Just remember, his name is spelled AntAWn.

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Michael Lee: Alright, guys. The time really flew by. But I have some work to do. We'll talk in another week. Please don't be afraid to ask non-Wizards questions next time. There are 29 other teams. Peace.

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