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Wednesday, April 16, 2 p.m. ET

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Ivan Carter and Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, April 16, 2008; 2:00 PM

Post staff writers Ivan Carter and Michael Lee were online Wednesday, April 16 at 2 p.m. ET to discuss the Washington Wizards and the NBA.

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Wizards Coverage

The transcript follows.

Discussion Archive

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Michael Lee: We're down to the final push -- and I'm not talking about Zydrunas Ilgauskas's left forearm to Sam Dalembert's back. But there are some big games in the Association tonight, and there is a possibility that the Jazz, Rockets, Spurs and Suns could finish the season in a four-way tie. The Nuggets can jump Dallas for the seventh seed. This is going to be fun. But I know you have questions. I hope I have some answers. Let's go. . .

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Lynhaven: Do you think Philly should have petitioned that foul call?

Michael Lee: It doesn't matter anymore. The league wasn't going to overturn that decision -- especially this late in the season. It was a terrible way to lose. The ref should've swallowed his whistle after letting LeBron travel and Zydrunas Ilgauskas shove Sam Dalembert in the back. I couldn't believe that it ended like that -- or that I seem to be the only person who noticed that Dalembert got shoved into Devin Brown. There is no contact with Brown if Dalembert isn't pushed. Oh well.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Do you think there's a chance that Eddie Jordan will abandon the Gilbert Arenas six man concept and allow Arenas to play big minutes as a starter?

Michael Lee: I can only see that if the Wizards are in a desperate situation - down 0-2 or 1-3 - or if Arenas is playing great in his limited minutes and asks to get more time. Right now, it appears to be working and nobody is complaining. So why mess with that?

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Washington, D.C.: So after watching the end(s) of the Cleveland-Philadelphia game, do you think the Wizards know that they have to have at least a 5 point lead with 10 seconds left to prevent the refs from even attempting to let LeBron decide the game?

Michael Lee: You think five points will be enough?

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Arlington, Va.: Monday confirmed what I already suspected, that Jermaine O'Neal is finished.

Michael Lee: He has no more lift. Guys are blocking his shots with ease. I don't want to call him finished because he has been hurt all season. But I agree that his days of putting up 20 and 10 and making all-star teams might be over. He just hasn't been able to stay healthy. Unfortunately for the Pacers, he gets $22 million a year. Ugh.

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Washington, D.C.: You touched on it in your blog entry, but I have a question about the video review of the Cleveland-Philadelphia ending. Obviously they could review if the shooter was fouled. But could they also review if Dalembert was pushed? Or if LeBron traveled? Or is that not allowed under the rules?

Michael Lee: The only thing the officials could review is the play when the whistle was blown. Greg Willard blew the whistle when Dalembert hit him. It doesn't matter that there is no way he could dive head first into Devin Brown without a shove. Once the refs decided to review the play, there objective was to see if there was time on the clock. It's right, but so wrong.

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Arlington, Va.: Is the time NOW for Eddie Jordan to start talking about playoff officiating? He needs to get this out in the media now, before the refs get a chance to blow the series for the Wizards.

Talk about it now, before the games, and he can start getting in the heads of the refs (and LeBron), without risking a fine or looking whinny... right?

Examples:

"We're hoping to play well and maybe get a few calls along the way, especially late in the game when things are on the line"

"LeBron is tough to guard, and our guys have been caught up in some tough calls against him which makes it even harder. Good calls but tough calls nonetheless that maybe makes them be less aggressive in guarding him"

Stuff like that... not Jeff Van Gundy type nonsense, but get it out there.

Michael Lee: I don't see how that can hurt. With the teams more evenly matched than last season, you have to try and get every edge you can.

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Baltimore: Who is the rookie of year this year, Durant or Horford

Michael Lee: I love what Horford has done, averaging almost a double-double in his rookie season, but I don't think there really is a debate. Kevin Durant has been the rookie of the year since the season began. I know he got a lot of heat for his shot selection and Seattle's record, but he was surrounded by a garbage team. I don't know any rookies who could've lifted them to more wins. Durant also got better as the season progressed. He's the real deal, folks. His team - and the Sonics' disingenuous owners are not.

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Alexandria, Va.: Heading into the playoffs, the way I see it the only team the Wizards should fear right now is Detroit. Agree or disagree?

Michael Lee: I think the Wizards should feel confident, but they need to have a healthy fear of every team in the field. You're right that the Pistons are the only Eastern Conference playoff team that Washington has a losing record against. But if the Wizards don't overlook the teams ahead of them, they will be better off. The thing about the playoffs is, everything in the regular season doesn't really matter. You have to beat someone four times to advance -- and there are no back-to-backs or four-games-in-five-nights to consider.

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Alexandria, Va.: Do you fellas believe the Wizards have the defense to beat anyone in the playoffs? I love our offense. I love the fact we can bring Gilbert Arenas and Darius Songaila off the bench, but defensively we have had lapses. Thank you.

Ivan Carter: To me, the key to the Cleveland series will be rebounding. Outside of LeBron, the Cavs struggle to score so they must get points off of offensive rebounds by Ilgauskas, Ben Wallace, Anderson Varajeo and Joe Smith. The Wiz must rebound or they will be in big trouble. If they can limit Cleveland to one or two shots and do their thing offensively, they win this series.

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Maryland: That Toronto-Orlando match up. Interesting. I think Toronto might take it, you think they have a chance?

Michael Lee: I think they can possibly push Orlando to six, but I don't have much faith in the Raptors. They looked really shaky right now. I see Orlando winning the series because the Magic has more weapons if Chris Bosh and Dwight Howard cancel out each other's production.

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Washington D.C.: Will Gil continue to come off the bench in the playoffs? It looks like he's rounding into shape some.

Ivan Carter: On Monday night, Jordan said that he has no immediate plans to change anything but that could always change. I think it's a good strategy to bring him off. Let Daniels start and get Butler,Jamison and Haywood touches and then bring Arenas in to do his thing. Plus, he'll be in there when it counts anyway.

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Richmond, Va.: Given how improved Brendan Haywood has been this season, shouldn't I expect him to get the better of Zydrunas Ilgauskas when the Wizards play the Cavaliers.

Ivan Carter: That will be a very key matchup. Haywood has played Z well at times in the past. His length gives Z problems and he must rebound like a beast in this series for the Wiz.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Hey guys. What do you think of DeShawn and Gil's trash talking? I know Barkley has his ideas but he's a knucklehead. I think the Cavs stink and they're going down in six no matter what anybody says to whose momma.

Ivan Carter: From where I sit, only what DeShawn said can be called trash talk. Gilbert simply stated his belief that the Wiz can win. What is he supposed to say? I have no idea what impact it will have. I mean, the Cavs have far bigger issues. They are 15-12 since that trade, they've played with little chemistry and without Larry Hughes, they have nobody who can defend Arenas if he's right. As for Barkley, who cares? The guy is funny but he doesn't know what is going on with either of these teams. I bet that none of those national guys have watched a Wiz game from start to finish more than three or four times this season.

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Maryland: Byron Scott or Doc Rivers, coach of the year. You made a decision yet, anyone else in mind?

Michael Lee: I'm leaning toward Scott, but you cannot ignore the jobs that Rick Adelman, Phil Jackson, Mo Cheeks and Eddie Jordan have done. I won't release my final choice until I list my regular season awards on Sunday, but Scott has been rather impressive and showing that what he accomplished in New Jersey was no fluke. He can coach.

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Frederick, Md.: I really think the Wizards can make a run in the playoffs, but was disappointed in how Jason Maxiell was able to level DeShawn Stevenson and nobody gave him at least a hard foul later. Are the Wizards going to be tough enough to make a deep run? Thanks

Ivan Carter: Much of that depends on how games are going to be called. Haywood gave James a love tap a couple of years ago and James reacted as if he'd been shot. He's the league's golden child and they refs are watching closely. If they refs call it very tight, there isn't much you can do in the way of giving out "tough" fouls.

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Washington, D.C.: Can we get a more specific update on Caron. Day-to-Day is not enough info.

Is there any chance he will be limited in Game 1? Has the injury lingered longer than expected? Is he participating in practice at all?

Ivan Carter: There have been no practices since he bumped knees in Detroit and his status for tonight is still up in the air. Eddie Jordan said that he'd like to see Butler and Arenas play "some" tonight but that hasn't been determined yet. I'll have a full update on the blog before the game. I don't think the injury is anything that will be an ongoing problem. It's not structural. Just a bad bruise. By the weekend, Butler should be fine.

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Burke, Va.: Hey Ivan,

In your Wiz Insider column, you said that you thought DeShawn was going to say more trash after the Indiana game. Did you ever find out what he was planning on saying? Also, do you know, what did LeBron say about DeShawn to Drew Gooden?

Ivan Carter: DeShawn was gone after the game so we didn't get a chance to talk to him. Not sure what he had in mind but he told us to be ready for something "good" before the game. I hear that was said by LeBron involved a female. That's all I know. Whatever it was, it ticked DeShawn off big time. He wants some LeBron.

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Washington, D.C.: It's funny how all the Wiz fans are up in arms about the Cavs getting a break. Wasn't it last year when Arenas got a phantom foul call after time expired in a game against Golden State, which GS eventually lost because Arenas made the free throws?

Michael Lee: You can find a lot of bad calls throughout the NBA regular season, but how many teams were affected by those decisions?

That call on Monday was a travesty because Philadelphia is about to get smashed by Detroit and the Wizards lost an opportunity to get homecourt advantage in a series of two pretty evenly matched team. That is reason to get up in arms. A foul like that affected all but two teams in the East - Boston and Atlanta.

In the case of the Wizards-Warriors, who really got hurt? It actually worked out okay for Golden State -- especially when you consider that the Warriors got a favorable first round matchup with Dallas.

_______________________

Crestwood, N.Y. : Not a Wizards question; let me drag you down to NBA hell for a second: If you guys committed a horrific crime, and your sentence was to try to turn around the Knicks -- a.k.a. the NBA Superfund Clean up -- would you place priority on clearing up cap room to sign LeBron or Duane Wade, or try to rebuild from scratch? Who, if anybody, would you keep? (The organist is actually pretty good.)

Michael Lee: You definitely try to start all over and clear cap space for 2010. Your first move is to get rid of Stephon Marbury. You likely won't find a taker for his $20 million salary, so you cut him and try to get a point guard in the draft.

Next, you see if anybody wants Eddy Curry. I know Zach Randolph has his baggage, but he's a better player than Curry. One thing you don't want to do is trade expiring contracts. That's how they got into this mess from the beginning. All of the Knicks troubles started when they felt the need to trade Patrick Ewing to Seattle instead of letting his salary come off the books.

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Westminster, Md.: Isn't the whole "making LeBron angry" subplot mostly meaningless? Teams talk trash to each other all the time. LeBron is always psyched to play Washington; is he really going to be even more motivated now? I've always thought the whole "they disrespected us" routine to be overblown, a mountain/molehill thing.

Michael Lee: I don't know. I don't recall anyone else ever calling LeBron overrated, so it will be interesting to see how he responds. But I do wonder if it will get him out of his game. The Cavs are better when he's sharing the ball and getting his teammates involved. If he's focused on scoring 40 or 50 and everyone is standing and watching, I don't see how Cleveland wins.

When the Cavs were here a few weeks ago, DeShawn Stevenson was jawing with him all night, and at the end of the game, LeBron decided that he didn't want to drive for the game-tying basket. Instead, he settled for a lazy three-pointer just so he could stick it to DeShawn. That was a bad move.

_______________________

Charlottesville, Va.: Is coming off the bench going to hurt Arenas this summer? To me, it makes him more valuable, because it shows he cares about the team more than himself - rarer than it should be among All-Stars, but will it hurt his bargaining position?

Ivan Carter: Regardless of whether he starts or comes off the bench, this series could really help Gilbert because without Larry Hughes now, the Cavs have nobody to guard him. Think about it. Delonte West? No. Devin Brown? No. Daniel Gibson? No. He's a huge matchup problem for them and I think he's going to have a huge series. Then look at the second round if the Wiz get past the Cavs. Rajon Rondo can't guard him either and Sam Cassell is too old. Gilbert could earn that big contract and help the Wizards finally break through.

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Los Angeles: Love reading your stuff, guys.

Even though I get the NBA package to watch the Wiz, I haven't watched the Cavs lately. Is there anyone there playing well lately? Seems like LB, Z and Joe Smith are solid, but Gibson is still getting over injury, Wally is shooting badly and DWest is a borderline starter as usual. Who should we be worried about?

P.S. - Joe Smith ranks high as best Terp career ever. Disappointed he doesn't get any local love.

Ivan Carter: Anderson Varajeo will be an x-factor. The Wizards have to keep him off the boards. When Eddie Jordan goes to Darius Songaila and/or Andray Blatche, they have match Varajeo's energy, particularly on the offensive glass where he keeps possessions alive.

_______________________

Phoenix: Now that Shaq seems to be settling in Phoenix -- they seem equipped to finally get past San Antonio this year. Question is, can the beat anyone else in the West?

Michael Lee: You know what? It seems like San Antonio is the only team Phoenix is equipped to beat in the playoffs. Well, them and Houston.

But to answer your question, the West is wide open. You have the top six teams separated by two games. You know what the difference is between the Wiz and Cavs? Two games. So no team in the West can go into those series thinking that have a decided edge.

Let's say the Lakers get Dallas in the first round. The Lakers beat Dallas three times this season -- by a total of 10 points! That, my friends, is close.

_______________________

Rockville, Md.: Will Caron, Gil & Antawn even suit up tonight?

Ivan Carter: I just received word that Gilbert and Caron will likely sit out tonight. DeShawn may go and Antawn and Haywood could see limited minutes. In other words, look for a lot of Blatche, Nick Young, Dom McGuire and Pecherov.

_______________________

West Coast: Golden State -- best team ever to miss the playoffs?

Michael Lee: No doubt about it -- at least since the NBA expanded to a 16-team field in 1984. The Warriors would be the fourth seed in the East. They'd have homecourt advantage. Forty-eight wins ain't worth what it used to be.

_______________________

Fairfax, Va.: Everyone thinks Mitch Kupchak is GM of the year and that he showed Kobe he knew what he was doing, and Kobe was being a baby.

But maybe Kobe posturing like he did motivated and drove Kupchak to finally get his act together?

When a coach publicly calls out a player, he's coaching and motivating. When a player calls out a coach/owner/GM, he's being a baby and difficult.

Why the double standard? If any player deserves to be frustrated and get a chance to speak out, shouldn't it be one of the top and most popular players in the league?

Michael Lee: I don't have a problem with a player pushing management to make some changes and not settle, but Kobe was a bit overboard and crossed the line when he called his owner an "idiot." He told me that he might've done some things a bit differently considering the negative backlash he got.

I'm not sure how much he drove Kupchak to get his act together. I think Kupchak knows what he's doing. He has proven he made the right decision by not giving up Andrew Bynum for Jason Kidd. He also made up for the Kwame/Caron blunder by getting Pau. The best part about the Gasol move is that Kupchak did it discreetly. He hasn't pumped up his chest like he's some genius. Kobe applied the pressure, but I don't believe that Kupchak wanted to continually lose in the first round. He just has to be more patient and calm about it.

_______________________

Clifton, Va.: What exactly has gotten into Darius Songaila?

The guy is playing with confidence, and looks like he has really hit a groove with his teammates. Most importantly, he is being very effective on the floor.

His signing, along with Daniels, and Stevenson, generated very little excitement among Wizards fans. But they comprise the other "Big Three" for this team, huh? Kudos, again, to Grunfeld.

Ivan Carter: Darius believes that he struggled some early because he had dead legs after playing with the Lithuanian national team last summer and then, he was bothered by a nagging Achilles problem. As you know, he doesn't have a lot of lift or burst to begin with and the Achilles thing really slowed him down. In February, he started feeling a lot better, his legs came back and he said he ramped up his conditioning work. Since then, he's been a pretty solid player. In seven April games, he's averaging 8.6 points and 5.9 rebounds while shooting 45.9 percent.

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Washington, D.C.: Ivan, have you had a chance to talk to Arenas yet on why he intentionally mislead you about the timetable for his comeback?

Ivan Carter: Gilbert being Gilbert.

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Rockville, Md.: Who do you think should win MVP? Kobe, Garnett, Paul, LeBron or someone else? Do you have a vote?

Michael Lee: We at The Post do not vote on MVP, Hall of Fame or anything. But I think Kobe will win the MVP since the Lakers finished with the top seed in the West. I think you could make a case for Paul and Garnett and I wouldn't disagree with you. The race is that close.

As for LeBron, he has had a spectacular season, and if you asked me in March, I would've told you that he was the MVP. But since the Cavs wouldn't even be a playoff team in the West, I can't give it to him. Kobe is the guy. He's earned it.

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New Carrollton, Md.: What is the Wizards draft status with the pick that they got from the Grizzlies?

Ivan Carter: It was top 19 protected this year so Memphis keeps it this summer. It's top 16 protected next year, top 14 protected from 2010-2012, top 12 protected in 2013. If the Wiz haven't received a first rounder by then, they get second round pick and cash considerations. In other words, the Grizzlies have to get better for the Wizards to get that pick.

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Tysons Corner, Va.: I LOVE the trash talk! I don't buy into the myth that it will motivate the Cavs to play harder. They have plenty of motivation regardless of who they'll play. They may WANT to beat the Wizards more now, but it won't change the play on the court. What's your take?

Ivan Carter: I agree. Talk is talk. Now, the stuff about Jay-Z and Soulja Boy? That was funny.

_______________________

Another Post Employee: Hey Guys,

Since the end is near (the season). Do you have a clear(er) idea of who should get MVP. My vote is for CP3 since he's been working with a lot less (than Kobe) even though the Lakers have a marginally better record. My thinking is the Hornets coming 2nd, in a historic playoff race & and from where they were last year, has to be (one) of the biggest surprises of the year.

Michael Lee: I have to disagree that CP3 is working with less. He had David West and Tyson Chandler for 75 games. West was an all-star. For all the talk about Gasol, he was not an all-star this season -- and the Lakers only had him for 25 games. Andrew Bynum came on this season, but he played 35 games this season. That isn't even half of a season. You put Bynum and Gasol together and you get 60 games. That still isn't 75. That still isn't one all-star.

The Hornets were a surprise, and I wouldn't be upset if Paul won the MVP. But he has some really good pieces in West and Chandler. You trying to tell me that Vladimir Radmanovic is better than Peja Stojakovic?

_______________________

Michael Lee: Alright, guys. That was fun. But this is that real hectic time of year with the playoffs upon us. Thanks for joining us today and this season, but I really have to get back to work. Enjoy all the games tonight -- and the first round. Peace.

_______________________

Manassas, Va.: So, Dominick McGuire almost single handedly lost Mondays game, a couple bad shots with lots of time on the shoot clock and like 1/4 from the line in the last minute.

He is obviously a great rebounder, but is he still adjusting to the speed of the game on offense or is he just not a very productive offensive player?

Ivan Carter: He has to really work on his game this summer. It's going to be a big summer for him and Pecherov in particular. If I were Dominic, I'd take a long look at a guy like Donnell Taylor, who was in the league for a couple of years but didn't drastically improve and is now playing overseas. It can get away from you quickly. The good news is that he has the physical talent to play in this league and it appears to me that he's a worker.

_______________________

Washington, D.C.: What's the latest on the health of DeShawn and Caron?

Is everyone expected to be basically healthy when the playoffs start?

Thanks.

Ivan Carter: If Eddie does sit Caron and Gilbert tonight, everyone should be in decent shape.

_______________________

Oakton, Va.: Who has the nicest car on the team, and who has the worst (or most average)?

Ivan Carter: I really don't know. I do know that I have the best commute. 15 minutes from my door to the VC via the metro baby!

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Washington, D.C.: Is this the playoff series where NBA fans in other cities, not just DC, notice and say, "wow, that Blatche guy is going to be really good some day".

Ivan Carter: Sure would be a good time for that right? I have no idea. He's been so inconsistent that it's hard for me to imagine him just blowing up now. Eddie Jordan would just take some rebounding and defense off that bench.

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Barno, Md.: Does it bother you that the Wizards are on the verge of their 4th straight playoff appearance and yet the WaPo relegates many of your articles to the inside section of the sports page, while every day there is at least one Capitals article on the front page?

You can't tell me more people are interested in the Caps right now than the Wizards.

It's disgraceful.

Ivan Carter: I wouldn't say disgraceful. The Caps are a hot story right now. Ovechkin is the truth and the crowds at the VC have been great. I think it was similar when the Wiz broke through in '04-'05. The Wiz are going to need to take that next step and taking down LeBron and the Cavs is their chance. I've felt that the crowds at Wiz games have been pretty lame all season and I haven't sensed much buzz around town either.

_______________________

Ivan Carter: Thanks for dropping in folks. Check the blog for updates from Orlando tonight.

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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.


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