Ivan Carter and Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, March 26, 2008 2:00 PM

Post staff writers Ivan Carter and Michael Lee were online Wednesday, March 26 at 2 p.m. ET to discuss the Washington Wizards and the NBA.

From The Post:

Wizards Coverage

The transcript follows.

Discussion Archive


Michael Lee: Hey, everybody. I'm not so excited today. I'm pretty upset that the Sonics are about to move to Oklahoma City. I hate it on two fronts. One, I'm from Kansas City and I know the pain of having your team bolt for another city. And two, I can't believe that I may not see another game in Seattle. What a great city. Ho hum. This is terrible. I hope Ivan enjoys it tonight. But we're not here to mope. You've got questions - let's go. . .


Maryland: Any thoughts on possibly covering your final game in Seattle.

Ivan Carter: That's interesting because I was thinking about that this morning. I'm getting ready to hop a flight from Portland to Seattle in a couple of hours and I'm in a good mood because it's one of my favorite towns. Nice downtown area, cool bars and restaurants, friendly people and I've always enjoyed the atmosphere at Key Arena. Not to knock Oklahoma City but getting it for Seattle is like getting Kwame Brown for Caron Butler. Life ain't fair.


Rockville: How do you explain last night's debacle? This is reminiscent of them losing to the D-League Cavs or getting crushed during OT by the pitiful Knicks. The Blazers were on the 2nd night of a back-to-back. Their best player, Roy, missed three quarters. Their 2nd best player, Aldridge, missed the entire game. We had tons of motivation after beating the Pistons. So we go out and are never in the game and lose by 20. Talk about a team lacking consistency!

Ivan Carter: Just a bad loss. The Wiz looked flat and some of that could be chalked up to the long flight they took the day before (I was a little out of it myself) but that excuse goes out the window when you point out that Portland played the previous night in Seattle and lost badly. I will say this: teams like that give the Wizards trouble. Young, athletic teams with shooters who can spread the floor. It reminded me of the loss in Philly and the collapse in Golden State.


Arlington, VA: Some draft picks are bust. But what about the non-bust players who for some reason just don't ever live up to the hype, or worse, live up to the hype but carry the baggage of being a loser with them for their career?

Check out this list of All-Stars that definitely had game, but for some reason lacked whatever "winning" players have. How well do you think this team would do in its prime?

PG - Stephon Marbury

SG - Steve Francis

SF - Antoine Walker

PF - Glenn Robinson

C - Chris Webber

Michael Lee: That's a pretty good list. At least Glenn Robinson was able to go out (quietly) with a championship ring (he was a bench scrub for the Spurs in 2005). Those other guys - I don't know how that team would've looked. Marbury and Francis never would've been a good pair. Francis is like Marbury Lite. We already know how that worked out in New York. As for the rest of the team? I'm not sure if anybody would have gotten off a shot. They would've been wrestling for the ball on every possession. I'm just glad we never saw that.


Gilbert Arenas: Might as well address me first, here's the typical questions you'll get today about me:

- When am I going to play?

- How unhappy am I about not playing on sunday?

- How is this affecting my future big money contract plans?

- How will the Wizards do once I'm reinserted in the lineup?

Ivan Carter: Tough to answer that in detail until the doctors clear Gilbert Arenas to play. What we don't know is the state of that knee from a medical perspective. Gilbert seems to think that it's strong enough to play and I've seen him go through some intense workouts on the court before games but the doctor obviously sees something that doesn't look right. Maybe that will change next week when he is re-evaluated. Maybe it won't. Gilbert clearly wanted to play badly but I think he's gotten over that initial anger/frustration to a certain extent. He was out there shooting before last night's game and was in a good mood.


Roanoke, Va.: First off, love your reporting. You both do an absolutely excellent job.

What do you think about Wilbon's idea of bring Gil off the bench when/if he returns and also, when is Nick Young supposed to be back on the court?

Ivan Carter: Nick Young came back last night and played just over 16 minutes. Wilbon's idea is actually the reality. If and when Arenas comes back, he will come off the bench at first. Then, depending on how he looks and how the knee reacts, they may increase his minutes and eventually put him back in the lineup. The issue is that time is running out. The team has 12 regular season games left and even if Gilbert comes back as soon as next Wednesday's game against Milwaukee, that would only leave him with eight games to find a groove. That's not much time.


Fairfax, Va.: How will Chris Webber's career be remembered?

Michael Lee: I don't know, because Webber has been such a complex figure. He always seemed to have two personas. He had that smooth smile, that great personality. He was so charming. Yet, every place he played - with the exception of Detroit - ended poorly and ugly. On the other side, he had a great career, put up some phenomenal numbers, brough short-term happiness to Washington for disappointing Abe Pollin and made the Sacramento Kings relevant for several years. One thing you can say about Webber was that he wanted to win. He may not have been able to get that ring, but he sure was hungry for it. I remember one time with the Kings when he decided to guard Shaq in the playoffs. Now, Webber wasn't the best defender, Shaq was in prime, and he was no match. But it showed his hunger. I always rooted for Webber, dating back to his Fab Five days, but he will go down as a great player who suffered a tragic injury, came back and never was the same. But he was so skilled for his size. It's sad that he had to be forced out ended like this.


Washington, D.C.: What is it about the Wizards defensive scheme that it seems to give up an inordinate amount of open looks for jumpers? Are they not athletic enough to play help defense and get back to the man shooting the open jumper or this is the way their defense is designed to take their chances with the other team shooting wide open 3s?

Ivan Carter: At times this season they've done a far better job and that is why they are only giving up 98.2 points per game after allowing 104.9 last season. The problem, in games like last night's, has been a lack of energy, communication and effort. Last night, the rotations were messed up right from the start, the pick-and-roll defense was sloppy and there were too many possessions when a Wizard didn't close out on an open shooter and that open shooter (Martell Webster) made them pay.


Charlottesville, Va.: I know that the Wizards' doctors won't tell exactly why they are blocking Gilbert from playing. However, is the problem something that you can see -- swelling, a pronounced limp or restricted movement on the court?

Ivan Carter: I've seen none of that but I haven't seen the guy go hard in a five-on-five situation either. Gilbert said the doctor was uncomfortable with some swelling in the knee and that's why he said to wait for a week or so. Keep in mind that this guy has had two surgeries on that knee since last April. You have to wonder whether it's going to be right this season at all.


Washington, D.C.: If/when Arenas comes back, why not play him at the 2. Daniels has been doing a great job running this offense and I think EJ's offense works great with a pass-first point guard. Your starting 5 would be AD, Gilbert, Butler, Jamison and Haywood with Stevenson the first one off the bench. How could this not work?

Ivan Carter: This kind of thing has been thrown out there a lot over the years but my consitent take on that is this: Arenas needs to have the ball in his hands. Sure, he can play off the ball some and run off of screens here and there like he did when Larry Hughes was here but for the most part, he wants the ball. I don't see that changing.


Virginia Beach, Va.: What are the Mavericks chances of making the playoffs, now that Dirk is injured?

Michael Lee: Not very good. The only way Dallas can get in is if Avery Johnson loosens up a bit and gives Jason Kidd free reign. Hey, they traded for Kidd, spent millions for him to get there. They can't try to turn him into something else. Avery needs to led Kidd take charge and take them out on the run. They have guys who can get it done without Dirk in the short term. Josh Howard was an all-star. Stackhouse would love to be a top option again.

Their schedule is pretty tough the rest of the season, with four home games and seven road games, but three of those roadies are against the Clippers, Sonics and Blazers. Golden State probably has the most favorable schedule between the three teams battling for the bottom two spots (Denver is the other). But I really don't know with the West this season. Anyone who tells you they have it figured out is lying to you.


Leesburg, Va.: I was curious about how the team in general feels about Gilbert. Is he well liked amongst the guys on the team or has his aloofness grown tiresome. In the media everyone always seems to give PC answers unless caught in the heat of the moment so it would be interesting to know how Gilbert is viewed by his team aside from the generic "Gil is Gil" comments. thank you

Ivan Carter: I could be wrong but the general feeling I get is that he's liked by most and respected by all because of his work ethic and the level of his past performance. Those guys have seen the time he puts in and they've seen him put up game-winners and drop big games on people. As for his personality, he laughs and jokes with just about all of the guys, the young guys especially. Jamison kind of looks at him like the little brother who is always cutting up in class (Leave it Beaver style) Butler sort of rolls his eyes with a smile like "Yeah, that's Gil. What are you going to do?" Stevenson and Arenas are tight. Daniels and Arenas are tight but in a different way. I have no idea what a guy like Songaila thinks but it would be a great thing to hear over beers.


Washington, D.C.: Hey Mike, me and my friend were having a an argument the other day about the biggest bust on the Grizz -- Kwame or Darko. So I had to get your take.

Michael Lee: That's funny. You could go either way. You could say Kwame because he was the No. 1 pick. But when you look at the players that Kwame has been traded for - Caron Butler and Pau Gasol - you can't call him a total bust. He might not produce for a team while he's there, but he will leave you with a gift on the way out.

But seriously, Darko is the bigger bust, because he's never had a season where he averaged at least 10 points (Kwame has), his career numbers are worse by almost two points and two rebounds, and two teams really, really just gave up on him. Orlando didn't even try to sign him last summer and Detroit traded him for cap space.


DC: If the Wizards have trouble with young athletic teams, why not throw Blatche, McGuire and Young on the court against the Blazers... especially when your starters have you down 25? Obviously those guys aren't better than Jamison, etc., but sometimes don't you have to blindly throw a few darts and hope one hits the target?

Ivan Carter: I'm assuming you watched the game, because all of those guys played and it didn't matter much. The Wiz did put together a second quarter run with Roger Mason Jr., Blatche and Darius Songaila on the floor but once the starters came back, the Blazers rolled. The big issue was that they got killed on the boards 55-36. I mean Joel Przbilla had 17. Jamison, Blatche and Haywood combined for 17. Like I said, it was one of those nights. The guys you mentioned all played extensive minutes in the fourth when Portland outscored the Wiz 20-16 and outrebounded them 20-7. Everyone had a hand in that whipping.


Bethesda: With the great play of Jamison, do you think the Wiz will keep both he and Arenas for the long term? Thanks for the chat, love how it breaks up the day nicely on Wednesdays.

Ivan Carter: Glad I can help you get out of work. Slacker. Given the tightness of the upcoming free agent market and both player's desire to return, I see Arenas and Jamison in Wizards uniform again. Now, Ernie Grunfeld could have something up his sleeve and if he does, nobody knows what it is. The man plays his cards close to the vest.


Solomon's Island, Md.: Do teams really need a classic point guard in the style of Stockton, Kidd, Cousey or Paul? The Celtics of the '80s didn't really have one. Isiah Thomas wasn't what you'd call a classic point guard when the Pistons rose to the top. Similarly, Gilbert Arenas is more a shooting guard trapped in a point guard's body. Even John Paxson only brought the ball up for the Bulls -- Michael Jordan ran the offense.

Michael Lee: This season is proving that you need a great point guard to win games. You can say that Isiah wasn't a classic point guard if you want, but the man still would drop 10 assists on you. But you bring up the Celtics and the Bulls as teams that won without a classic point guard (although I think DJ was pretty good), but what you're missing is that those teams won because they had a transcendent talent (Bird and Jordan). Cleveland has been able to succeed, the Lakers and Heat won championships without great point guards because those teams had those transcendent talents. The Wizards don't have that. Shoot-first point guards typically don't take teams to the championship. I suppose you could call Isiah one, but he made sacrifices to let Joe Dumars get off; he made sacrifices to make his teammates better. For the Wizards to win with Gilbert, he will have to defer more, try to get two or three more assists and take four or five fewer shots.


NOVA: Based on the players' past experiences, how would you rate the Wizards medical staff? Shaq seems to be looking good, and he has attributed his good health to the unique practices of the Suns' medical staff. Any thoughts?

Ivan Carter: That's a very hard question to answer because I'm not in the medical field and I'd have to look around the league and see how this team's injuries compare to other teams. I will say this: Arenas, Butler and Oleksiy Pecherov have all been diagnosed as having one level of injury this season only to learn later that it was worse. Arenas was cleared in October to play on that knee and then re-injured it. Butler was diagnosed as having a strained hip flexor and then later learned that it was a partial tear of the labrum and Pesh was said to have a severe ankle sprain and it wound up being called a stress fracture. That's not a good trend, I'll say that. I don't cout Etan Thomas because he pushed to be cleared to come back to practice and was told by the team athletic trainers that his sternum may not be ready. Then he went out to practice and took a shot to the sternum.


Oakton, Va.: Who is your favorite NBA "analyst"? Not a reporter like David Aldridge, but an analyst?

Dr Jack Ramsey? Steven A. Smith? Fred Carter? Fratello?

And whatever happened to Tom Tolbert?

Michael Lee: Hubie Brown, hands down. I love listening to Hubie. Listening to games with Hubie is like sitting in on Basketball Class. You see, if you are the coach, you have to ask yourself, do you want to play a zone and allow their perimeter shooters to hit open shots, or do you go man and let their quickness and athleticism derail. You must understand that if you . . . I don't know, I just love having Hubie break it down for me.


20165: If LeTravel and DeShawn actually got into a real fight, who would you take? I'll take DeShawn. LeTravel's been coddled his whole life.

Ivan Carter: I'd take DeShawn as well. There's a somewhat off quality to that dude that is lurking underneath the surface and as you said, LeBron has had the basketball equivalent of a silver spoon in his mouth. Plus, DeShawn is short and stocky by comparison and the low man always wins in a scrap like that.


Washington, D.C.: Besides Isiah Thomas, which coaches do you think are on the hot seat? It looks like a lot of teams should keep their coach since many teams are battling for the playoffs (especially in the East) and some of those which are not have good reasons (i.e., Portland waits for Oden, Seattle has to deal with the move and to have its kids grow up a little). Thanks.

Michael Lee: Jim Boylan in Chicago. George Karl if the Nuggets don't make the playoffs. Ditto for Avery Johnson. Lawrence Frank in New Jersey. Larry Krystkowiak in Milwaukee. Randy Wittman in Minnesota. Sam Vincent in Charlotte.


Darko-bust: Darko is definitely the bigger bust since Carmelo, Bosh and Wade were drafted after him!

Michael Lee: Yeah, I didn't think I even had to mention that. But since you did, I don't have to.


Fairfax, Va.: Does Nick Young qualify as "disappointing" yet? He is to me. Shouldn't a first rounder do more than shoot pretty good?

Ivan Carter: Not to me. I said back in summer league that Nick would be the kind of guy who makes you get up out of your chair one night and say: "wow" after he dunks on somebody or makes a sweet spin move and drops in a fingeroll and then, he'd have you chucking empty beer cans at the TV the next because he dribbled the ball off his foot, took a dumb shot or lost his man on defense. He's a gifted but raw guy who can create his own shot but is learning how to play. The thing I like is his demeanor. He really is a good kid and wants to get better. This is going to be a big summer for Nick, Dom McGuire, Pesh and Blatche. All of them will play summer league together in Vegas.


Herdon, VA: Ivan, you say that if Etan can comeback maybe the Wizards can give Orlando a tough series, because he does well against Howard.

Wasn't that early last season, for like, one game? I think Howard has progressed his game a little since then, don't you?

Ivan Carter: Good point. All I was saying was that Etan would give Jordan a big body as another option against the guy. That's not happening though. I don't see Etan coming


SoCal: Love the Hubie impersonation.

Any word on Nick Young's documentary? Has it been released?

Ivan Carter: Haven't heard. I'll ask about that and update it in my blog.


Rockville, Md.: How do you think the seeding from 4-6 will end up with the Wizards, Raptors and Sixers with nearly identical records?

Michael Lee: Do you mean 5-7? I don't think any of those teams will catch Cleveland. Toronto is dropping like an anvil. I see the Raptors finishing below both Philadelphia and Washington. They really don't look good right now. I wish I could tell you how the Sixers do. I had them pegged to be one of the worst teams in the NBA in the preseason. I looked good after the first 48 games, when they won 18. I still don't know how they've won 18 of the last 23. They are smoking hot. I think they'd rather have the six than the five, so that they can get Orlando. The Wizards probably prefer five since they are all to familiar with the Cavs. Plus, who doesn't want Jay-Z vs. Soulja Boy?


Alexandria, Va.: Ivan,

Andray Blatche is making the same mistakes he has been making since his rookie year. He has yet to make his body stronger and doesn't exactly come across as a guy who wants to be great. What gives? He plays with a guy in Jamison who defines what it is to be a pro. Is he stubborn?

Does he not care? I get tired of people using age as an excuse. Dwight Howard is the same age yet has transformed his body and is all business. Does he not notice that type of dedication by someone his own age?

Ivan Carter: I think he wants it at times and then sort of forgets that he wants it at others. It's telling that three years in, the coaching staff still sometimes questions the guy's work ethic, conditioning level and effort. Eddie Jordan calls it "professionalism."

He's got the tools to be great but hey, if you have five-years, $15 million guaranteed for being sometimes good, where is the incentive? Comparing him to Jamison isn't even a worthwhile excercise.


Washington, DC: I'm frustrated with the Wizards team doctors. They never put a timeline on his return, and now they are playing the "can't hurt to wait" game.

It's unprofessional. Put a loose timeline out there and if he misses it, fine, no big deal. But to play this wishy-washy game with his return is becoming laughable.

No one is saying rush him back too soon. But it has got to be messing with Arenas' mind when your own doctors can't give you some basic milestones and timetables to work with. It ends up putting doubt in the patients mind. You start thinking heck, even my own doctors don't know or have a clue if it'll be ok.

Ivan Carter: That's why Gilbert was so upset. He called it a "mind game" when he walked out of the locker room. Thing is, the Wiz keep those guys off limits to us so I can't ask them why they do what they do. That's an Ernie Grunfeld policy. Funny thing is that the restrictive Redskins make their team doctor available to clarify this kind of thing but the open Wizards do not. Interesting.


Oakton, VA: Ever thought about a follow up story on Jared Jeffries and how he feels about being in New York?

Personally, I'm glad he left because I wasn't a fan of his game or production and it freed up cap and roster room. And yes, he is still getting his paychecks just like he would have here in DC. But I have to think part of him thinks twice about the decision he made.

He is currently averaging 16 minutes and 3pts, 3 rebounds a game for one of the worst teams in the NBA.

Ivan Carter: Jared lives for the offseason when he can go fishing. That's Jared. And no, he's not loving his Knick experience. Who would?


Ivan Carter: I have to run and catch a flight to Seattle. Thanks for stopping in and keep reading.


LeBron vs Stevenson: I'm not saying DeShawn is a pretty boy, I won't go that far, but he was a high school draft pick also, and I would assume has experienced some coddling himself.

What exactly did scouts see in him that led him to be drafted out of high school? I am really baffled because he is not all that tall or long, isn't a deadeye shooter... was it simply because he had mad hops? Seriously, I don't get it. And what makes it even more baffling was that it was ultra conservative Utah that drafted him.

Please explain because it is a mystery to me and I'm sure many others.

Michael Lee: DeShawn was a freakish athlete. He could jump out of the gym. He was like a 6-5 Shawn Kemp - without the J. He was a showman and entertainer on the high school level. Of course, he was in Fresno. He hasn't been the same since having some injuries, but it wasn't like he was a lottery pick. DeShawn went No. 23 (LeBron's jersey number. Oh, snap!) in 2000.


Memphis or New Orleans to Seattle?: Hi, Ivan and Michael,

IF (and that's a mighty big "if," given that the Sonics' breaking their lease will end up in court) the Sonics do leave Seattle for Oklahoma City, what are the chances that either the Grizzlies or Hornets could end up as the "new" Seattle Sonics? (Since Seattle wants to do what Cleveland did with the Browns)

Michael Lee: From the way Stern is talking, Seattle is done. This is personal with Stern. This really isn't about business with him. He is upset with the government officials in Washington and Seattle, who gave brand spanking new stadiums to the Seahawks and Mariners, but balked on the Sonics. Stern just wants to show Seattle who is the boss. I hate that he has to get so big and bad with an absolutely great and beautiful city. I'm not from Seattle, but I'm sick about this. We are witnessing the complete theft of a franchise before our eyes. Both sides are at fault, but I hate to see it go down like this. Seattle for Oklahoma City is a terrible trade, much like Vancouver for Memphis. Nobody wins in this arrangement. I'm sick.


Michael Lee: Alright folks. I've got to go. I'm in Boston tonight, ready to check out the Celtics-Suns. Should be fun. We'll do this again next week. Peace.


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