Wednesday, April 18, 2 p.m. ET

The Washington Wizards

Ivan Carter and Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, April 18, 2007; 2:00 PM

Washington Post staff writers Michael Lee and Ivan Carter were online Wednesday, April 18, 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: Hello, everybody. The last day of the regular season is upon us, and it's time to look back on what has been a less-than-awe-inspiring year in the league. At least to me. Since the Wizards' chances in the playoffs don't look so hot, feel free to use this chat to engage in some less depressing topics like the MVP or Coach of the Year, Joey Crawford's suspension or maybe the other playoff races out West. We need to mix it up, people. There is a lot going on, especially tonight, where Golden State and the Clippers are battling for that last spot in the West and Chicago-New Jersey looks like it'll be the best regular season game of the night. I'm ready to chat. Let's go. . .


Tampa, Fla.: With DeShawn Stevenson's not-so-gaudy numbers he's put up in the absence of Gil & Caron, this should confirm to management that he's not worth a break-the-bank type deal this summer. Your thoughts?

Michael Lee: You're right. DeShawn doesn't warrant break-the-bank money, but the Wizards already knew this. I don't think the Wizards brass needed to look at anything that occurred these last few weeks as a means of evaluating this team. This was a time for some to pad some stats and look good for OTHER teams. They could already determine the first five months that DeShawn is a great complement to Gilbert Arenas in the backcourt, but not worthy of a big money deal. They've already figured out that Brendan Haywood is unreliable/inconsistent and that Jarvis Hayes hasn't learned to expand his game. Who didn't know before last night that Antawn wasn't a scorer? This time of the season is mostly about pride -- and from the close games the Wizards have played with Gilbert and Caron Butler, they have some.


Washington, D.C.: I'm speaking as a crazy, optimistic Wiz fan. If they get the sixth seed, then win one in Toronto and get Butler back for game 3...does that team have a remote shot?

Michael Lee: I think you are totally underestimating the Raptors. The Wizards lost to Toronto three times this season -- and twice with Antawn, Gilbert and Caron.

The Raptors are a bad matchup for the Wizards because they really force this team to play defense in the areas where they are extremely vulnerable -- down in the block (Chris Bosh can score at will against these guys) and on the perimeter. The Raptors can shoot and they know how to play ball.

I don't care about playoff experience. I seem to recall the Wizards winning a series against Chicago without any. I also seem to recall Cleveland beating the Wizards without much. You need talent to win games and Butler returning -- which is a longshot at best, to me -- only boosts their chances in making the series competitive and nothing else.

I could be wrong, though.


Washington, D.C.: How different will the 2007-8 wizards look next year in your opinion....Ivan or Michael?

Ivan Carter: My guess is that you'll see the core of Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Antonio Daniels, Andray Blatche, Darius Songaila and Brendan Haywood intact. Ernie may look to move Etan, but his contract is cumbersome and he may not find many takers. Last year's first round pick, Oleksiy Pecherov will be here and so could Juan Carlos Navarro, who has been playing in Barcelona but wants badly to bring his game to the NBA. Problem is, Navarro has a hefty buyout and the Wiz can only pay $500,000 of it. I see DeShawn signing elsewhere (just a gut feeling that some team will pay more than the Wiz are willing to pay) as will Jarvis Hayes. Calvin Booth and Michael Ruffin are up after this season as well.


Rockville, Md.: Is it smart for the Wizards to tank tonight's game against the Pacers to gain up a spot in the NBA draft? With the Wizards' small chances in the playoffs, and the depth and talent of this year's draft pool, I think it's smart to do so.

Michael Lee: That makes no sense. What difference does one or two spots mean when you are picking in the middle of the draft? At that point, you are pretty much guessing and hoping that you can find a guy who can stick in the league. It's better to be in the playoffs than in the lottery.

I don't have the long-term numbers in front of me, but teams that are in the lottery have a hard time getting out. If I'm not mistaken, Toronto, Utah, Houston, Orlando and possibly Golden State are the only lottery teams that didn't make a return visit. That's five out of 13 teams avoiding another lottery journey. Think about that. And think about how Golden State is trying to get out of a 13-year lottery hole.


D.C.: I heard you ripping Arenas on the radio Sunday Ivan, I was pretty surprised.

Ivan Carter: Didn't rip him. Just pointed out that he hadn't been around at all since his injury while Caron Butler was at every practice and cheering his guys on from the bench. Gilbert did show up for a bit before Sunday's game and also stopped by before last night's game. I also hear that he and Eddie Jordan talked for the first time since the night of the injury. Remember, Eddie benched Gil for being late to a pregame shootaround that night and I hear that Gil wasn't thrilled with the move. Eddie also said that Gil hadn't returned his phone calls two days after the injury so draw your own conclusions.


D.C.: Yo Mike man that blog was mean to us Wiz fans...That Bucks team -- was their downfall as bad as ours?

Michael Lee: Mean? How was that mean? I just compared two teams that had major collapses at the end of the season. I didn't have any cruel intentions.

C'mon, D.C. You have to be a little less sensitive and stop thinking that there some hidden message. There isn't one. You had two teams that were once 10 games above .500 before bottoming out. What's cruel about that? Whatever the causes of the decline, the facts are the same.

My goodness. If I wanted to be mean, trust me, I could've been mean. That, was not mean.


Washington, D.C.: Let's say there's a round robin tournament for the East's last playoff spot. Competing against the current, banged-up Wizards are: -The Pittsburgh Pisces, from "The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh"; - "The White Shadow"-coached Carver High team; and - the "Teen Wolf"-led team, with Michael J. Fox in unstoppable wolf form. Who do you pick?

Ivan Carter: Michael J Fox as the wolf was basically D-Wade, no? Unstoppable. I especially loved how he never dribbled with his left hand and consistently baffled opponents with the same around-the-back before throwing down a two-handed dunk move. I guess you could put DeShawn Stevenson and Jarvis Hayes on the Wolf and force that fat teammate/buddy of his to make shots but we all know that defense has been a problem for the Wiz. I'll take the Wolf in a close one over Dr. J's team from "The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh"


Washington, D.C.: Which is the greater long-shot: Gilbert winning an MVP one day, or the Wizards winning a title?

Michael Lee: Both. If Gilbert is having an MVP season, chances are the Wizards are in the title hunt.


Washington, D.C.: Guessing you two watch a lot of ESPN/CSN/NBA League Pass between you. Who's your favorite TV analyst? (Am curious not just nationally, but including regional levels too).

Ivan Carter: I've always loved Ralph Lawler, who has called Clippers games forever. I love his Lawler's Law: the first team that reaches 100 wins and you've just got to give it up for anyone who can be that enthusiastic after calling Clips games for 30 years. Also like the Golden State color guy (can't recall his name right now) and Boston's Mike Gorman on the play by play.


Washington, D.C.: Who will win more games this year -- the Wizards or the Nationals?

Michael Lee: Funny. I'd have to say Nationals, though. They have 162 chances to get 42. I like those odds.


Washington, D.C.: Hi guys,

I've got a buddy who constantly bashes Arenas for immaturity, lack of leadership, etc. His latest point is to say that Gilbert not being on the bench is a major issue. Can you guys tell us why Gilbert hasn't been sitting with the team? Also, since you guys are close to the team, what are the general feelings about Gilbert's maturity from his coaches and teammates? Thanks!!!

Ivan Carter: Gilbert's not being on the bench could have to do with the fact that he has a knee injury and they don't want someone going after a loose ball and falling into that knee. Caron has a broken bone in his hand so it's a little easier to sit there for two and a half hours while getting up and down for every timeout/huddle. As to what his teammates think about Gilbert, I think everyone who knows him has adopted a "Gilbert is just Gilbert" attitude sort of like the 'tude folks have in Boston about Manny Ramirez. Once you've been around Gilbert, you kind of figure out that he's just...well....Gilbert. Hard to explain I know but I think we all know someone like that. Ever had a friend who is always late to stuff but because of who they are you just let it slide? That's kind of like life with Gilbert. As to the leadership issue, he flat out said he isn't one and doesn't want to be one.


Washington, D.C.: If this is the end for Joey Crawford, why should we care?

Michael Lee: I really don't think we should. I honestly don't care about the officials. Refs shouldn't be stars in this game, in my opinion. They should be unrecognized, not seen or heard. I've never heard a fan leave an arena and say, "Man, those officials were great tonight!"

I have a friend who officiates high school games in Atlanta and he told me that he knows he's done a good job when nobody talks about them afterward.

That being said, the highlight of the all-star weekend was the race between Dick Bavetta and Charles Barkley. Maybe next season, TNT can set up a steel-cage match between Duncan and Joey "Do you want to fight?" Crawford.


Washington, D.C.: Should A.D. even be playing? Was his O-fer night the result of his injury, or can we expect more from him tonight?

Ivan Carter: The Wiz sure aren't going to win a game when AD and Stevenson combine to make 2 of 24 shots like they did last night.


Washington, D.C.: Best bar in DC to share a beer with fellow Wizards' fans and mourn mutual disfortune?

Ivan Carter: I prefer the 51st pub on 25th and Penn in Foggy Bottom. Good brews. Great TVs. Great juke box. Pool table. Nice cozy atmosphere. Or at least that's what I've heard. I only work.....


Sec 400: So what are the odds that Caron is on the court in uniform for Game 3 at the Phone Booth next week?

Ivan Carter: I'm told that while Caron has been optimistically throwing that out as a possibility, the only way he plays again is if they get to the second round. Dude broke a bone in his right (shooting) hand. Until I see him actually able to grip a basketball, I'm not buying any talk of a return. He does get the cast off Monday so we'll be able to gauge any progress from there.


Boston: Do you think the referee suspension was warranted in the Duncan incident? What would the NFL look like with all the unwritten rules that NBA refs use (like veteran deference, long memories on certain players, etc.)?

Ivan Carter: Different games. The sheer number of games and closeness of the players to the refs makes the NBA so unique. The players and refs know and (often despise) one another. It's inevitable. Crawford is a good ref and a guy with a rep for taking no crap but you can't go around challenging a guy to a fight during a game. Imagine if that was Stephen Jackson? The last thing Stern wants is a player killing a referee during the game on "fan appreciation" night.


D.C.: I don't know if you guys saw this from, but it makes sense to me:

"Question No. 2: In a giant pickup game with every NBA player waiting to play and two fans forced to pick sides with their lives depending on the outcome of the game (I think this is how the annual Rucker League tournament works), who would be the first player picked based on the way everyone played that season?

Answer: If you'd honestly pick Nash or Nowitzki over Kobe, I don't know what to tell you. There's no other acceptable answer for this question."

Michael Lee: Yeah, this MVP vote is always pretty perplexing. The league has been so diluted because of expansion and greater parity that the best players aren't always on the best teams. Kobe is the best player in the game, but he forced Shaquille O'Neal out of town, which increased his chances of putting up gaudy numbers and eliminated his chances to win anything significant. In recent years, the MVP rewards great organizations over great individual talents. I mean, last season, I think Kobe or LeBron could've done alright with Nash's supporting cast in Phoenix, but it might not have worked the same way with Nash moving to LA or Cleveland. Since Kobe and LeBron failed to win their divisions, they didn't get the award when they arguably should have.


New York City: What are the chances that Larry Brown will coach the Wizards next season?

Michael Lee: What are the chances Don Imus hosts a show on BET?


Warrior pride.: What do you think fellas? Warriors make playoffs and Nellie pushes the Mavs series to six games led by BDavis, JRich and my main man Monta Ellis. They might lose, but they will make this entertaining. The Curse of Chris Webber ends tonight. Your thoughts?

Ivan Carter: I love that Warriors team and hope they close the deal and get into the playoffs thus setting up the matchup you just described. Here's the deal: they will make it interesting as long as Baron Davis can stand upright. People forget how nasty that guy can be. We saw it when the Wiz were out there a few weeks back. Baron was killin' Gilbert and I swear he was playing on one leg half the night. They'll give Dallas a push. My only wish is that the NBA would allow them to wear those "The City" uniforms in the playoffs. Best uniform in the history of sports in my opinion.


Washington, D.C.: Deadspin's running a story today on a potential Arenas/Obama candidacy -- at least, that's what superfans the Wizznutzzz are pushing in a new T-shirt. Given our national team's recent struggles in the Olympics and World Championships, plus our flagging image abroad, do you think there's benefit in having the best two-man game at the G8 Summit and Davos? Also, Obama was apparently a lockdown defender when he played college ball -- maybe he's the guy Gilbert needs.

Michael Lee: My only problem with that is, isn't Gilbert already known as the Black President? Why does he have to play second-fiddle to Barak? This has been Gil's city for about three years, now this guy is trying to steal his thunder. Humpf.


Bowie, Md.: Do you think it is likely the Wizards will look for another European in the draft who would stay over there for a season or two, or someone who would come in immediately? Any feeling on what position the Wizards might be most interested in?

Ivan Carter: No clue whatsoever. This is shaping up to be a wide open draft after those first few picks. The International possibility always exists. Ernie personally went on a scouting trip over there a few weeks back (he also checked in on Navarro and his son, who is playing in Germany) and the Wiz have already shown that they will have no problem dipping into that talent pool.


Fort Meade, Md.: Fellas, two years ago when they played each other in the playoffs, the Bulls and Wiz were both young, up-and-coming teams who, despite their flaws, were definitely on the rise. Since then, the Bulls have made big strides while the Wiz have only made baby steps, if any. The Bulls whip up on inferior or shorthanded teams while the Wiz struggle and often lose to those same teams. So what gives, is it coaching, players or both?

Ivan Carter: I like the way this Bulls team has come together this season especially when you consider the injuries suffered by Andres Nocioni (love his game) but there is no way that team is nine games better than the Wiz if Gilbert and Caron don't go down. Maybe three or four but not nine. And a playoff series with all hands on deck would have been terrific. I don't think the gap between the franchises is as great as you think when you consider that A) Ben Wallace is only getting older and will eat up huge portions of that salary cap and B) Gilbert will come back next season in his prime and especially hungry.


Washington, D.C.: You get a three-year, guaranteed contract as GM for one of the lottery teams. Which one do you pick?

Ivan Carter: Give me the big man every single day of the week. God only cranks out so many legit centers and when you have a chance to take one, you do it. I love Durant as well but no way I pass on that 45-year old, Robert Parrish looking freshman from Ohio State. No way.


Washington, D.C.: Does Don Nelson fit your definition for basketball genius? I am reminded by Warriors' success, but more Dirk/Nash's perennial MVP candidacy...he was almost fired for betting the farm on the two in 1998/99, when they (and the Mavs) stunk it up, but he was only a few years ahead of the curve. At the same time, Nelson's never coached a team to a title. Thoughts?

Michael Lee: I think we throw the word "genius" around too lightly in sports, but I honestly think Nellie was before his time. I think "revolutionary" is a better team. He was the guy who invented the point forward in Milwaukee (Paul Pressey), he helped bring Sarunas Marciulionis over Lithuania/Russia in 1989 (which sparked the Euro-invasion), he started using small ball (a three-guard offense in Golden State, and later Chris Webber at center), invented "Hack-a-Shaq" and his innovative offensive schemes have produced some of the most entertaining teams.

What he did turning Nash from a Stockton clone into a legitimate offensive machine, and taking a chance on Nowitzki. You can go on and on. But if he gets Golden State back into the playoffs, you really have to give this man some love as the best coach to never win a title.

But since he hasn't won a championship as a coach, and he has yet to find a winning defensive philosophy, it takes him down a notch.


Washington, D.C.: What in the world was Joey Crawford thinking? Didn't he realize that he was officiating a game with a national audience in HD and with some important playoff ramifications? Tim Duncan is possibly one of the nicest players in the league, and he wasn't even in the game during BOTH techs.

This incident really lends credibility to the conspiracy theorists who have always believed that the fix was on in a whole bunch of playoff games in the '90s.

Ivan Carter: I think you just hit on why David Stern came down so hard on Crawford. By chucking Duncan, Crawford may have altered the shape of the playoffs. No way the boss man wants that.


Boston: Good riddance to Crawford and all the refs like him who think people come to see them run up and down the basketball court. I tried to get back into the game this year but the first few weeks of the season ruined it for me. Every game I flipped on had the refs tossing players for no apparent reason. You constantly feel the oppression of the refs (and David Stern) lingering over the game like a dark cloud, getting rid of the most egotistical of the refs is a great start.

Michael Lee: Great post. Nothing more for me to say here.


16 Team Playoff and Scheduling: Work with me for a second on this issue...

I know there are probably a million reasons why the NBA would frown on a 16-team seeded tournament. But can you all explain why the NBA is stuck with keeping things the status quo?

This season...most of the quality matchups will be in the West. In fact, the top four teams in the West will beat each other up again. If I am a Western team, I would petition the NBA to suggest seeding the teams from 1-16 based on winning percentage and other tie breakers.

The East vs. West concept is functionally obsolete. And don't use the TV schedule issue. MLB has East and West series in the wild card, divisional and pennant series every year...and it works

So what are the real reasons?

Michael Lee: You may think East-West is obsolete, but have you ever flown from Los Angeles to Washington? That is a long flight. You ever wonder why NBA teams go on West Coast or East Coast road trips, hitting five or six teams at a time? Because travel is tough and weary on these guys. So, if you have a playoff series where every team is flying cross-country, you're talking pure madness.

Look, the East-West thing goes in cycles, but guess what? The East has won the past two NBA Finals. And, I seem to remember some very good playoff series in each conference last year - Wiz-Cavs, Bulls-Heat, Suns-Lakers, Cavs-Pistons, Spurs-Mavs, Mavs-Suns. I mean, don't get so wrapped up in records. These are competitive series' and often, anything can happen.

Plus, baseball has half as many teams participating in the playoffs. It's a different game and it is ruled by leagues, not conferences. Let's move on, people. Forget about the 16-team playoff seeding.


Rockville, Md.: Are the Wizards (as presently manned) the worst team to ever enter the playoffs? If not...who was?

Ivan Carter: The '96-97 Clippers made the playoffs with a 36-46 record. That team's leading scorer was Loy Vaught at 14.9 ppg and ended the regular season with a 28 point loss to the Lakers and a 25 point loss to Seattle before getting swept in three games by Utah in the first round. Pretty sure the Wiz are better than that team.


Herndon, Va.: Is there any truth to the rumors you two will be suited up to play against the Pacers so the Wiz will have two more bodies to throw into the playoffs?

Michael Lee: That is not true. The Wizards did approach Ivan, but he asked for a max contract and Abe Pollin wasn't willing to disrupt team chemistry and go over the salary cap for another trigger-happy shooting guard. I didn't even let them ask me because I'm at a stage in my career when all I care about is winning a championship. I might be willing to finish the season in San Antonio, Dallas, Phoenix, Detroit or Miami.


Washington, D.C.: Ivan, appreciate the response (as always!), but let me clarify: You get a three-year, guaranteed contract as GM for one of the lottery teams. Which team do you pick to run?

Ivan Carter: Gotcha. I'll take Memphis and here's why: I know Pau Gasol wants out but imagine if they stab the top pick? Add Oden to Gasol in the front court with Rudy Gay at the 3 and Mike Miller at the 2 and you'd having something going wouldn't you?


Ivan Carter: Thanks for dropping in folks. Gotta head to the hotel and get ready for tonight's game. Ivan


Michael Lee: That was brief. I was hoping for more. Oh well. I've got to run. It was cool chatting with you guys once again. I'm going to sit back and enjoy the games tonight. Peace.


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