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Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 23, 2008; 2:00 PM

Post staff writer Ivan Carter was online Wednesday, Jan. 23 at 2 p.m. ET to discuss the Washington Wizards this season and what stories to follow from around the NBA.

From The Post:

Wizards Coverage

The transcript follows.

Discussion Archive

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Ivan Carter: Let's get to it folks. I may check out a few minutes early to hop my flight to Cleveland for tonight's game but I'll roll through as many as I can. Thanks for dropping in.

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Argentina: Is there any way we get to keep Roger Mason next season? I've got my fingers crossed but I think he is about to get paid.

Ivan Carter: That will remain to be seen. Roger may look elsewhere if that's what he has to do to get more money/minutes. I agree with you that he's been very solid and has helped himself on the open market. What team doesn't want a good shooter who plays good defense, works hard and is headache-free in the locker room?

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Winning it All!: Guys,

The Wizards will win the NBA title in 2008.

And why not? They have the best forward tandem they've had since Elvin Hayes and Bobby Dandridge of the '78 championship team. But the '08 Wizards have something those Bullets lacked - an explosive star in the backcourt. Yes, Gilbert Arenas will be in good form by the time the play-offs arrive. This team could always score, but now they're playing great defense. The Wizards will bring Washington it's first NBA title in 30 years. You read it here first.

Ivan Carter: Wow. Slow down there. Love the enthusiasm but put down the Wiz-aid and take off the Bullets Underroos. This team is playing very well and I agree that it can only get better when and if Gilbert comes back strong, but championship? Let's start with winning a first-round series and putting up a fight in the second.

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Washington, D.C.: First let me say that on a human level it's great to see Etan doing well and back around the team. But on a basketball level, assuming for this question he's cleared to return this season, what steps if any will Eddie Jordan take to ensure that there's no return of the Brendan-Etan Grudge Match? I know Etan's said it's water under the bridge, but he's said something like that before and then they resumed their Ali-Frazier Trilogy. Personally, I think Eddie should make it clear to all, and especially to Brendan and Etan, that Brendan is the No. 1 guy in the middle for this team this season. His play has earned that status.

Ivan Carter: First of all, Etan has yet to be cleared to practice. As he stated the other day, the doctors are being very cautious and that is understandable. Then, you have to factor in that this guy hasn't gotten up and down and banged elbows at the NBA level for months and he's coming off a long period of inactivity. My point is that it's way too early to even think about the rotation situation. That said, Brendan is not going go give up minutes easily and Etan isn't going to do anything but work hard so I guess there is always the potential for friction. That will never change.

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Waldorf, Md.: Ivan/Michael,

Is it the norm for so many fans cheering for the opposing team? Quite often there are so many fans in attendance at home games supporting the opponent, why do you think this to be the case? For the record, not a Washingtonian.

Section 113, Seat A

Ivan Carter: Think about what kind of city Washington is. It's filled with people from other places. In fact, I've been here three years and have met far more people who are fans of other football/basketball/hockey/baseball teams than the home squads. The other factor is that this franchise effectively lost an entire generation of would-be fans because it stunk. When you go over a decade without a playoff appearance, change names and make one head-scratching trade after another, you lose fans. And it takes a long spell of success to change that.

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Washington, D.C.: Did any of the Wizards make the All-Star team? I hope so since I voted for them more than once.

Ivan Carter: Neither Caron or Antawn will be voted in but there is a good chance that both will be added by East coaches. I think the coaches and front office types in this league have a deep respect for what those two, this team and this coaching staff is doing without Gilbert Arenas. It's a great story.

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Assistant coaches: Ivan and Mike,

Hi. Why is there a rule that NBA assistant coaches can't talk to the press/media? Doesn't make sense to me.

For example, I would love to see an interview with Randy Ayers on what he has brought to the Wizards in regard to defense.

Thanks.

Ivan Carter: There is no NBA rule. The Wizards have instituted that rule this season for some reason. In the past, we spoke with assistants all of the time. I agree, I think it's kind of ridiculous because it keeps the paying customers from learning more about the folks who are coachin' 'em up so well.

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Ashburn, Va.: Aside from LeTravel, whom you can't really stop, which Cav needs to be stopped/guarded closely tonight?

Ivan Carter: It's always about keeping Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Anderson Varajao and Drew Gooden off of the offensive glass. If those guys make open 10-15 footers all night - especially Varajao, that is one thing, but you can't let them create second and third chances by pounding the glass and that is what they do. Damon Jones is getting more time and he can knock down shots as can Boobie Gibson but neither guy is big off the dribble. Larry Hughes is in the midst of the worst shooting season of his life and Sasha Pavlovic is struggling as well.

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Washington, D.C.: What kind of interest will Jamison get from other teams as a free agent? Will the Wizards be able to resign both he and Gilbert? Do they want to?

Ivan Carter: They can and I believe they will as long as Antawn doesn't get some kind of offer that is just too big to match. He's going to get a ton of interest but not many teams are going to have big money to throw around. We'll see.

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Arlington, Va.: I noticed that Gil referred to himself as a team "leader" in his most recent blog. It wasn't long ago that he didn't want to be a captain because he didn't think he was a leader? Is this Gil maturing or Gil maturing or seeing the team change from his team to Caron's team?

Ivan Carter: Always hard to tell with Gilbert because he's, well, a different sort of cat. I know this: basketball is everything to him so it has to be killing him to be out this long and not be able to be a part of this. Not sure how much of that is genuine passion for the game and how much is jealousy that they are doing so well without him but it has to tweak the pride a little. He has gone out of his way to praise Caron, Antawn and the way the team is playing so that's a positive sign. One thing I've picked up about Gilbert is that he is very intelligent, so he understands that he's going to have to work his way back into this team not the other way around.

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Stuttgart, Germany: Greetings from good ol' Germany. My Q:

What's up with Dominic McGuire? I think he played very well in Summer League, furthermore Eddie praised him during training camp and everybody excepted him to contribute immediately. However, now he's at the end of the bench, gets no minutes because he still makes a ton of (rookie-)mistakes and looks very uncomfortable, without self-confidence on the floor.

Where's the Dominic from training camp?

Why does he struggle to adjust the different game in the NBA and do you think that he will turn the corner soon? Is the front office/coaching stuff still him on him?

I really hope he will make it - NBA and for the Wizards, because he seems like a good guy.

Ivan Carter: It's way too early to make lasting conclusions but I also thought that he'd be a bigger factor. He simply hasn't gotten the minutes to develop and draw the kind of confidence needed to really show what he can do. He has the body and the skill set to be a contributor but he hasn't gotten the minutes. At this point, he'd be better off on a bad team so the coach could roll him out there and let him play through mistakes. Obviously, a deep team with playoff ambitions can't afford to do that.

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Laurel, Md.: What do you think about Gilbert coming back as the 2-guard and Daniels starting at the point?

Ivan Carter: Gilbert needs the basketball in his hands. Just ask him.

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Virginia Beach, Va.: We have been talking about how the Wizards will improve when Gilbert comes back because of what a dynamic scoring threat he is. I think another improvement will be from the bench with Antonio leading a group of talented, but young guys. As great as the bench has been this year, shouldn't that group be even better with Antonio's veteran leadership?

Ivan Carter: That's one way of looking at it and I agree, this team will become instantly deeper and the second unit will be nasty but, it will be interesting to see how Antonio responds to playing fewer minutes. He never likes coming out of the game right now. The trickle-down effect of a deeper rotation and altered roles has the potential to be a good thing but it can also cause headaches and bruised egos. That's why Eddie Jordan makes the big bucks I guess.

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Burke, Va.: Hey Guys, I love your work. I was hoping you could give us more articles on the personal relationships of the teams. Like who hangs out with each other outside the team setting etc.

My question is, do you and the Times synchronize what stories are going to come out. It seems like your story topics always mirror each other ie. you write about Pecherov, they write about Pecherov. You write about defense; they write about defense.

Ivan Carter: No, we don't synchronize but we do tend write similar things from time to time because that particular subject happens to be THE story that day. Some of it also has to do with the fact that we're often interviewing the same guys at the same time and certain questions produce the kind of comments that lead to a dominant theme or story.

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Leesburg, Va.: I read the recent horror story about how the Knicks treat their beat writers, and was wondering what it's like covering the Wiz, in terms of access. Do you get good access to both players and management? Do you have a good relationship with the brass?

Ivan Carter: Covering the Wiz is pretty much headache free. The PR staff is really good, the players are professional and both Ernie Grunfeld and Eddie Jordan have an ability to convey information the way they want to without treating a reporter like the piece of dirt stuck to the bottom of their shoe.

(And let's face it: sometimes we are a major pain in the backside.)

On the flip side, I'm pretty sure that you could come up with enough money to make me cover the Knicks but let me tell you, it had better be huge. Everything around that team is a circus.

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Washington, D.C.: All this talk about the Wiz being better without Gilbert seems to ignore one important point: people are comparing how the Wiz are playing this year without Gilbert to how they played last year with Gilbert? Since the whole team has picked up its defense this year, how can people assume that Gilbert won't do the same when he comes back? After all, if Antawn and Brendan can pick up their defense thanks largely to Ayers's coaching, why not Gilbert? People say the ball movement is much better this year, but the team's assists per game are actually down from last year? Why can't people make judgments based on what happens AFTER Gilbert comes back?

Ivan Carter: That is a very excellent point and I've said the same thing. They are playing better team defense but individuals like Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, DeShawn Stevenson, Andray Blatche and Roger Mason have been better defensive players as well. Also, this team's make-up is different. Brendan is playing more and because he isn't looking over his shoulder at Etan Thomas, he is playing better.

Andray wasn't playing much last year. Neither was Roger or Darius Songaila. I think the personnel combined with the addition of Randy Ayers are the main factors in the improvement.

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Washington, D.C.: Have you and Etan Thomas cleared the air? As I remember you and him had a little back and forth. Do things like that affect your reporting?

Ivan Carter: Nah. I'm a beat writer covering a team and he's a player on the team. I'm a professional and will cover Etan in the same unbiased manner I've covered every athlete since I got into the business 10 years ago. No grudges and nothing personal.

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Virginia Beach, Va.: The Barkley vs. Bavetta foot race last year was hilarious. Any chance of a Duncan vs. Crawford boxing match this year?

Ivan Carter: How about a David Stern/Tim Donaghy boxing match?

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Rockville, Md.: Ivan, Why isn't Nick Young in the dunk contest? This is bigger controversy than the BCS system! Do you know how he's taking it though?

Ivan Carter: We all know that Nick is a spectacular dunker. The problem is that he hasn't done many of them in games. He certainly hasn't rammed down a memorable one over a big man in traffic. I'll ask him how he's handling it tonight. I'm sure he's down a little because he really wanted to be in New Orleans.

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Columbia, Md: I've been seeing the box scores and your game stories, but haven't caught many games recently--Have Pech's minutes been coming straight out of Blatche's? What other front line players has Eddie Jordan been using Pech in combination with?

Ivan Carter: I asked Eddie that yesterday and he said it was "an evolving process." So far, Pesh has seen action as a backup at center behind Brendan and Blatche but he's also seen some action at PF in tandem with either of them. I think Eddie's just taking it situation by situation, matchup by matchup right now as he attempts to figure it all out. We know this: Pesh is totally unafraid of playing in the NBA. I've seen not one hint of fear, intimidation or hesitance when he's out there. Eddie likes that.

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Riyaad, S.A.: Antawn's having a great year overall, but his mid-to-long-range jumper has been very shaky. Is he just in a shooting slump?

Ivan Carter: Actually, I think he's been more consistent than in past years. He hasn't had those huge games, the kind when he makes five or six three-pointers, but he also hasn't had a string when he went 2 of 25 either. Those have happened the last few years.

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Silver Spring, Md.: What do other players think of the Wiz? Is there respect from them? What about their attitude towards Caron? Do you think LeBron considers Caron a peer of his?

Ivan Carter: I've heard a ton of respect, especially of late after they beat Boston twice. Caron has always been afforded respect from peers and they're noticing the big season he's having. Not sure what LeBron thinks but I'll try and ask him about Caron before the game tonight.

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Arlington, Va.: Ivan and Mike... appreciate your work...

I'm sure you're getting a lot of "Are the Wiz better without Arenas?" questions...

That's an easy answer for me...

The question is, is Arenas worth a max contract?

Ivan Carter: If other teams in this league think he's a max player and are prepared to step out and offer max money -- and they are -- then he is a max player. That's it. My view is that you only give him max money if you are convinced that you can put the right pieces in place around him to win a title. Otherwise, what's the point?

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Frederick, Md.: I think it's not only a question of Gil fitting in when he returns; the other players need to keep asserting themselves, and not just get passive, pass Gil the ball and get out of the way, a la LeBron. Do you think they'll do that?

Ivan Carter: I do. These guys are playing with genuine confidence right now and they know they can win without Gilbert so I don't see them being overly passive once he gets back. As I said earlier, he's going to have to find the right mix between attacking in his usual manner and keeping everyone else involved.

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Richmond, Va.: Man, I saw the Nets get humiliated by the Kings last night. It is time for Rod Thorn to break up that squad and start over.

Ivan Carter: A comment on the Nets. Yes, they are a mess.

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DC: Big story in the second half of the season?

Ivan Carter: Gotta go catch a flight. Thanks for coming in.

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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