Wednesday, May 14, 2 p.m. ET


Ivan Carter and Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, May 14, 2008; 2:00 PM

Post staff writers Ivan Carter and Michael Lee were online Wednesday, May 14 at 2 p.m. ET to discuss the Washington Wizards and the NBA.

From The Post:

Wizards Coverage

The transcript follows.

Discussion Archive


Ivan Carter: I'm here as well fresh off a fun game of pickup ball where I was rolling like Bimbo Coles. Let's do it.


Michael Lee: I've arrived. I'm on time. And I'm ready to roll. These playoffs are becoming both baffling and predictable at the same time, since the home teams are completely dominating the conference semifinals. Fire away, I hope my answers are more on target than LeBron James against the Celtics defense. Or better yet, more on than David West was last night against San Antonio. Anyway, let's go. . .


Mt St Joseph High School, Baltimore Maryland: Detroit Pistons:

Last Six Years

6 trips to Conference Finals

2 Trips maybe a third to FINALS

1 NBA Title ( maybe a 2nd )

When are they gonna get some R-E-S-P-E-C-T?

Michael Lee: When they win another T-I-T-L-E! I think they get the right amount of respect for a team that gets to the conference finals and doesn't win a championship. Does Ben Howland's UCLA team get praised just for making the Final Four every year? No. Kansas got the Sports Illustrated videos and limited edition basketballs because the Jayhawks won the championship. You've got to win it all to get the glory. That's why Coach Wooden is the man at UCLA.


Amsterdam,Holland: Do you see the Wizarsd being able to pick up a contributor with there draft pick this year ?

Ivan Carter: It's possible but not likely. The Wiz hold the 18th pick and traditionally, that means you're taking a player who has potential (Nick Young for instance) but may not be a steady night in, night out contributor and certainly not a starter for a playoff contender. There are exceptions of course and that's why scouts spend thousands of hours canvassing the states and the world for the right player.


Barno, Md: In your opinion, is David Stern the biggest publicity hound involved in pro sports? To me, it seems like he cares way more about being seen and heard on tv than anything else associated with his job.

And I don't see Bud Selig or Roger Goodell out there giving his opinion on this trade or that trade or this coach or that coach. Yet time after time, Stern throws in his two cents.

I'm sure he's done a lot of great things for the league, but the publicity he seeks and the opinions he gives on issues in which he should get involved seem very unprofessional, and this has been going on for years.

Michael Lee: I wouldn't go that far and call him the "biggest publicity hound involved in pro sports." Pro sports is a pretty big animal and we could be here all day making a list of people who love the limelight. But I will say that in comparison to the other commissioners, Stern is certainly more visible and vocal. But I like that, to be honest. The NFL and MLB take themselves too seriously, in my opinion.


Germantown, Md.: Wouldn't it make more sense for Gilbert to honor the last year on his contract, prove he is still healthy and then go for free agency?

Also, are the Wizards a little embarrassed as far as how this season ended AGAIN?

Ivan Carter: It could but I get the feeling that Gilbert wants that long term security right now. And that makes sense given that he's coming off of the first two injuries of his basketball life and has two kids. I could be wrong here but I could see Gilbert taking a little less right now in exchange for that security.


New Orleans: As we have seen in most of these playoff series, home court is a big advantage. Do you think home court/field is as big an advantage in the NBA compared to NFL, NHL, and MLB?

Michael Lee: I don't have the numbers to make a really sound argument at this time, but I will say that there hasn't been a situation like these NBA conference semifinals, where home teams are 17-1. That is ridiculous.

But I think homecourt advantage is huge in every sport. Otherwise, teams wouldn't be so concerned about getting it - and it wouldn't be referred to as an "advantage."


New Orleans: Who would you draft with the first pick: Rose or Beasley? And Why?

Michael Lee: I'd take Rose. I love Beasley, but this is almost like the Oden/Durant debate last season. In the case of Durant and Beasley, you have two awesome forwards who can score and rebound, but in the case of Oden and Rose, you have the opportunity to solidify one of the two most important positions on the basketball court - center and point guard. Anytime you get an opportunity to draft a franchise changer at either one of those positions, you do it. At least in my opinion.


Oakton, VA: With this being the last big offseason in the Abe Pollin regime, I am seriously worried.

Resigning Jamison, as solid a player and person he is, would be a typical Abe Pollin move. Character and leadership are important qualities, but being blinded by that alone is a recipe for disaster. Too much money, too many years... I can see it now and am shaking in my boots.

Do you think Ernie has enough say to make sure a reasonable contract is given to Jamison, and no more? And if some other team wants to give him more, please, please Abe, let him go!

As sad as it may be to say, the truth is, Abe Pollin has lucked into mediocrity the past few years... let's hope he stays out of the way this Summer.

Ivan Carter: You are right in saying that Abe Pollin has a soft spot in his heart for Antawn Jamison but I get the strong feeling that Ernie Grunfeld is calling the shots around the Verizon Center. That's not to say that Abe doesn't sign off on things and have the final say but if Ernie comes to him with a strong opinion, I don't see Abe throwing down a veto. And here's the thing: I truly believe that Antawn wants to be back so I see the sides coming to an agreement that works for everyone. Unless I'm way off base, I could see Antawn taking something like a four-year deal with a first-year salary of $10 million. He may ask for five and the Wiz may ask him to take three.


Arlington, Va.: Why does Doc Rivers get such a free ride in the media? And no, the Celtics did not win 72 games so far because of Doc. They won 72 DESPITE Doc. Come on, Doc. Put Posey on LeBron. Play Pierce at the 4 with KG at the 5 (since no one on Cleveland can exploit them). Bench World B. Cassell. It's not that hard. If only Danny would panic and fire Doc before he blows this series.

Michael Lee: You can't win that many games in spite of the coach. Doc did a great job keeping that team motivated and focused through the regular season, but he hasn't proven that he can make the right adjustments - ON THE ROAD in the playoffs. At home, he hasn't made too many mistakes. Maybe he'll take your advice for Game 5. I don't think the Celtics should panic until or if they ever lose at home in the playoffs.


Falls Church, Va.: Is there a player you despise getting quotes from?

Michael Lee: I'd rather not answer since there is a good chance that I will have to ask that(those) individual(s) another question.


Falls Church, Va.: Which free agents would you guys target if you were in Ernie's shoes?

Ivan Carter: Great question. From where I sit, this team could really use another veteran front court player - a rugged rebounder type, and a young backup point guard - someone who came enter the game and change the tempo by pressuring the ball defensively and pushing it offensively. The issue is that I don't seen many free agents taking a long look at the Wizards unless Ernie moves some pieces. Right now, assuming that Gilbert and Antawn are back, this team has three vet guards plus a talented Nick Young who is going to be pushing for more PT and several veteran big men in Haywood, Thomas, Jamison and Songaila plus Olekisy Pecherov, whom Eddie Jordan likes as a potential weapon if he can have a great summer. Not a lot of roster spots and/or playing time there.


Washington, D.C.: Am I right to question the game of Kevin Garnett now? I'm not hating either. The ATL series, I just gave Josh Smith his due for having young legs and challenging the big fella. But for all the hype and $20M salary KG should be able to carry the load more. He has no unstoppable move except for a 15-18 foot jumper. that's not right for a 7-footer. I know if Boston does not win Doc will get a lot of blame, but I don't see KG on the block demanding the ball either. I see typical NBA basketball, the lane is empty and 3 or 4 guys stand around the arc.

Michael Lee: You have every right to question Garnett's game now. He is on the best team he has ever played with and he is allowing Anderson Varejao to push him out of the paint and force him to take fallaway jump shots. I know Ivan loves KG, but The Big Ticket has to more than sell wolf tickets and pump his chest when the Celtics are dominating some team at home. He has to deliver when his team needs it most. I know that is not his nature to score in the clutch, but if doesn't want the ball, he can also do a better job of making it easier for Ray Allen and Paul Pierce to do damage by commanding a double-team in the low block. I think he did a great job of taking control in Game 1 and his energy on defense has been contagious most nights, but you're right. If you're the franchise guy and Bill Russell is singing your praises, you have to step up. We'll see how he responds now that he's been called out. KG hasn't been in this position too often. This is only the second time in his career that he's been on a team that's favored to do something in the playoffs. Been a long time coming, so he has to make the most of it.


Washington, D.C.: I'd say it's more likely than not that the Wizards could get a contributor (but no star) at 18: Previous picks at the spot include David West, J.R. Smith, James Posey, and Quentin Richardson. Often, it's a good place in the draft to grab steady-but-overlooked upperclassmen with limited ceilings.

Michael Lee: I would have to disagree with you that David West is not a star. He is an all-star and he showed it last night when he dropped 38 and 14 on the defending champs. But I will agree that the Wizards can get a solid future pro at No. 18. Based on some of the pre-draft boards, there could be a good player or two available this year. The question you have to ask yourself, though, is: Do the Wizards have room to get any younger? Can they use the pick to get some veteran help - preferrably with size and to off the bench? I don't know if there is an immediate impact rookie at No. 18.

Ivan Carter: To add to Mike's point: that's why I see Ernie trying to package the pick if it will get some team to bite on Etan Thomas or perhaps, Antonio Daniels. Thomas is going to be very hard to move and I'm not even sure the team would want to move Daniels given the way he played this season but this team does not have many pieces it can use in a trade. The 18th pick could make something happen.


Washington, D.C.: Hey Mike, being a former Atlanta guy, any thoughts on the tenure of Billy Knight?

Michael Lee: I really enjoyed working with Billy. He wasn't the most talkative or friendly with most of the media but I thought we had a decent relationship. As for his tenure with the Hawks, I think he had the right idea about blowing up the franchise in 2004. He gutted the team from the ground up since the franchise was still struggling to recover from the J.R. Rider experiment (if you don't know how much he set back the franchise look at what happened to the organization immediately after he joined the team). But I think his obsession with getting "long and athletic" players really caused him to make arguably the biggest blunder in NBA draft history.

The Hawks needed a point guard and he passed on not one, but two potential Hall of Fame point guards in Chris Paul and Deron Williams. I know Marvin Williams was rated as one of the top two prospects at the time, but Paul or Deron Williams would've filled a definite need - and expedited the rebuilding process by at least two years. They also would have that franchise set for a long and fruitful run in the East. That was bad enough, but he made the situation worse when he passed on Brandon Roy the next year to draft Shelden Williams.

I like what Billy did to get the organization back into the playoffs (thanks to a dreadful Eastern Conference). He made the right choice in getting Al Horford with the No. 3 pick last summer. They have a nice young team that should only get better, but some of his other draft missteps will cost the franchise for some time - especially as Paul and Deron Williams continue to build on their burgeoning legends.


Washington, D.C.: Great season of coverage.

Saying we fall anywhere from 14th-20th in the draft, if a team comes to Ernie and says we will give you BLANK for the pick, any team or player off the top of your head.

Ivan Carter: Again, I could see Ernie using the pick to get some team to bite on one of his contracts like Etan Thomas, Antonio Daniels or maybe Darius Songaila. Thomas is signed through 09-10, Daniels is through 09-10 and Songaila has player option in 10-11. Those are not easy contracts to move.


Tysons, Va.: Hi,

A couple of questions regarding the Celtics -

Why doesn't Doc Rivers put Posey on Lebron to free up Pierce on the defensive end? He seems to be running out of gas on the offensive side guarding Lebron.

What is the deal with Ray Allen? He looks horrible out there.

Michael Lee: Doc might start doing just that, with regards to Pierce. He much to valuable on the offensive end to not have him at full strength in the fourth quarter. Pierce has been great on LeBron but that merely forces LeBron into being a facilitator, something he prefers to do anyway. Playing tough D negates Pierce's natural scoring ability in the clutch.

As for Ray Allen, he's been a bit of mystery most of the season. Rivers once blamed himself for not creating enough offensive opportunities for Allen. He's the one who has had to adjust his game the most to being part of the so-called Big Three. You want to believe that he can still get it done, but you also have to wonder if he joins the list of former all-star shooting guards who hit the wall after turning 32. Check out Mitch Richmond, Allan Houston, Eddie Jones, Michael Finley, Jalen Rose and so on and so on.


Falls Church, Va.: Michael,

What stories have you heard about Worldwide Wes? Have you interacted with him?

Michael Lee: I've met him before and I see him everywhere but we haven't had too many interactions.


Washington, D.C.: The official Wizards Web site has been counting down the top 10 moments from the season. What are the top 10 moments -- or at least, top three -- for you guys? Alternatively, what were the two or three stories that each of you were especially proud of?

Ivan Carter: Butler's dunk on Kevin Martin was No. 1. Nick Young's dunk on LeBron was No. 2. Caron's game-winner in the playoffs is 3 following by Stevenson's game winner in New Orleans. At five, give me the win at Boston. At six, I'll take Haywood's classic response to LeBron James being a crybaby. At 7, I'll take the dunk Andres Nocioni threw down over Oleksiy Pecherov. When Chicago's game operations folks put a picture of Stewey from Family Guy over Pecherov's face on the replay, I lost it.

At 8, I'll go with the game itself and Butler's 40-point performace in Milwaukee on Jan. 27 (just an incredible game to see live). At 9, I'll go with two games in Miami when I got to watch the Heat dancers perform from only a few feet away. (The Miami Heat dancers: where amazing happens). And at 10, give me the Nov. 2 game in Boston when Kevin Garnett and the new-look Celtics made their first regular season appearance. Just a great atmosphere.


Washington, D.C.: How did the NBA lose sight of it's most fundamental rule - traveling? I can accept how some fouls are missed and the make up call the next trip. But these NBA guys skip, hop, step every time they catch the ball or shoot. I can see given the big men the benefit of the doubt when they shuffle their feet for a move more so than Lebron or Tony Parker getting three steps on their drives to the hole. I love basketball and my personal team is out, so i am not some biased lunatic, but as a fan i see my self crying for calls just to make the game real and they are never called.

Michael Lee: I remember my first year covering the Hawks, we had a sit down session with the referees to go over the rules and how they call the games. One of the first questions asked was, 'Why don't you ever call travels?' There was a loud eruption of laughter in the room and an awkward explanation about they call that play. The officials told us that calling the NBA is very difficult because of the athleticism of the players and that they often have to keep their eyes on contact instead of feet. Then they added that they take into something called "athletic drives" to the basket. The ref didn't really explain it, but I guess that was his way of saying, 'We're okay with them traveling so long as its entertaining to the fans.' I could be mistaken, though.


Crystal City VA: Assuming that Etan Thomas is healthy and ready for next season how do you see him getting along with Brendan Haywood; considering his improved play and increased playing time? Can/will they bury the hatchet or will their relationship continue to be a distraction (like the Wiz need another one)?

Ivan Carter: They'll both say that it won't be a distraction and Etan will chalk it all up to the media blowing things out of proportion but if Etan starts cutting into Haywood's minutes, there is going to be a huge problem, believe me. That's how I see it.


Gaithersburg, Md.: Did you ever get a chance to ask Ernie about the Wizards' medical staff? Generally, I don't pay attention to medical staffs unless they are really good or really bad. With a lot of misdiagnoses for initial injuries, the medical staff should be looked at. Especially when signing a guy like Gilbert to a long term, big money deal.

Ivan Carter: Ernie made it clear that he doesn't see a problem nor does he believe that any changes need to be made.


Washington, D.C.: Given how he played this season, is it time to write off Andray Blatche as just a role player and not diamond in the rough any more. He had some big games, but lacks consistency. Would he be a good trade piece?

Ivan Carter: Tough question. On the one hand, he's the youngest guy on the roster, he's brimming with talent and he has a very cap-friendly contract. On the other, he's consistently inconsistent with his performance and work habits and has a very tradeable contract. I don't see him going anywhere but it's clear from Ernie on down that Andray needs to have a strong summer, stay out of trouble and dedicate himself to realizing his potential. Will it happen? I have no idea. I'll say this: giving the kid a five-year deal last summer removed any financial desire to get better.


Anonymous: How do you rate Chris Douglas Roberts out of Memphis? Is he a lottery pick?

It seems the NBA gets enamored in upside, meanwhile this guy can just plays ball. He played solid defense in the Final Four too.

Michael Lee: I like Douglas-Roberts. I didn't watch a lot of college ball but every time I saw him play, I thought he was a lock to go in the lottery. Then I looked at a number of the draft boards that have him going between 19 and 22. That seems extremely low for me. He was arguably the best player on the nation's best team for most of the season. He can score and he was a really solid defender. I'm not sure what NBA scouts are looking for, but I'm stunned that so many seem to be so enamored with "potential" and "upside" to overlook somebody who's proven that he can play at a high level. I think Derrick Rose will be the best pro to come from that Memphis team, but I think Douglas-Roberts can have a solid career. But I'm just a lowly sportswriter.


DC: The Wiz need a PG like Devin Harris, a guy we traded the rights for to Dallas. What would it take to get him back?

Also, plan B...can we get Jose Calderon?

Ivan Carter: I don't see New Jersey letting Harris go anywhere and yes, the Wizards can sign Calderon - as long as they let Gilbert Arenas walk should he opt out.


Washington, DC: Ivan, do you and the other luminaries who've had the Bullets/Wizards beat--including J.A. Adande, Ric Bucher, David Aldridge, and Richard Justice--ever get together for happy hour? The Washington beat must be the most-coveted in the league given that it's a springboard for an ESPN career, right?

Ivan Carter: My springboard must be broken.


Roy Hibbert: I might still be around at the 18th pick. Do you think Ernie should draft me? If not, what about Robin Lopez?

Ivan Carter: No. And I'd take a long look at Lopez. Hibbert may long regret not coming out last year. Someone gave that kid some very bad advice.


Rockville, Md.: Is there any team besides the Wizards that would gamble and give Gilbert a max deal? If you were the Wiz, would you go max in terms of money and years? Their medical staff worries me, they always misdiagnose injuries.

Ivan Carter: I seriously doubt that some team is going to offer Arenas the max given that A) Very few teams have that kind of money and B) Arenas is coming off of two knee injuries. Big risk. The kind that gets a gm fired.


Washington, DC: So with all this talk about the Celtics, do you think they can win this series?

What do you think the keys to their winning would be? LeBron is shooting terribly, but is still being effective and is not getting visibly frustrated, except when he was telling his mom to sit down and shut up, that he could handle his own business! And the series is tied. What do the Celtics have to do to win this series? LeBron is clearly his team leader; do you think that KG or the other members of the Big Three have really stepped up the way he has?

Michael Lee: It's really on KG to step up and inspire his teammates the way LeBron James has. I'm with you. LeBron has shot poorly, but he continues to encourage his teammates and give them great opportunities to score even when he can't. That's what makes him a great player and a pretty good leader - he can win even while not playing at his best.

The Celtics appear to only be comfortable when they are up 13 or 25. When the game is tight, they start getting tight and look for places to hide. Say what you will about LeBron, he doesn't do that. KG, Paul Pierce or Ray Allen - one of them or all of them - has to step up if the Celtics are going to win this series. They also have to do a better job of defending the James gang. They are keeping James in check, but they cannot allow Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak and Daniel Gibson to get comfortable and get off.


Woodbridge, Va.: Mike and Ivan:

The Wizards presently constructed have a nice team but it doesn't appear they have what it takes to get beyond the first round and eventually the finals which is everyone's goal. In your opinion, honestly, would you keep this team together and why.

Ivan Carter: I'll say this: I'd at least consider making a run at Calderon, who is a restricted free agent, and allow Arenas to walk if he opts out. Then, I'd resign Jamison if it's reasonable (no more than a four-year deal with a first year salary around $10 million) and build around those three, bring Nick Young along as a super scorer off the bench and maybe see if I could get some drunk gm bite on a deal that would package the 18th pick with Etan Thomas or Darius Songaila in order to free up future cap space.

Not saying I'd do all of that but I'd think about it. Then again, Arenas would probably go somewhere else, become a star again and I'd get fired. Maybe that's why Ernie Grunfeld is a gm and I'm not.


Washington, D.C.: As NBA writers, what's your take on the alleged scandal with O.J. Mayo? Business as usual, and we should just deal with it, or do there need to be changes made to the college game? (I remember Mike's coverage of overseas basketball academies for young players, which don't muddle the student-athlete distinction).

Michael Lee: I know nothing has been proven at this point with regards to O.J. Mayo, but I am not surprised that something like this could happen in the current environment of youth basketball.

I think Mike Wilbon's column today really hammered home the problem and also brought up how there is no easy solution. I'm not sure what can be done other than finding a way to pay these players, especially if the college institutions are going to make money off of their "free" labor. I think they have to do something innovative and creative because it seems that everyone associated with the NCAA - the colleges, the athletic departments, and the coaches are allowed to profit - gets to make bazillians but the reason for those profits (the "student" athletes) are criminalized for getting the crumbs. It pretty backward to me.

Maybe they need to set aside some of the profits from TV, jersey sales and tickets to provide something that amounts to a salary for these star athletes. This isn't the old days when you couldn't make huge dollars for your athletic talents. You can't sit back and try to hold on to the past. The reality is, kids can get $100 million shoe contracts before they sign in the NBA. There is BIG-TIME money to be made. The system now leaves the door open for corruption. I've always had problems with the "sanctity of the NCAA" because you'd have to be pretty naive to think that this doesn't happen A LOT in "amateur sports."

When I was in Europe, I was relieved that those programs don't try to hide behind any false veils. They are open that these are professional athletes, even at 14 or 15. They pay them, train them with the hopes that they will make money off of them eventually.

I think it's terrible that the NCAA gets to sit back, make all of this money, then come crashing down on anyone who dares get a car or a flat-screen TV out of this. Total hypocricy.

_______________________ It's a Guided Path Toward Professionalism (Post, Dec. 18, 2006)

Michael Lee: Here's the story I wrote about the European system about two years ago.


Let LeBron score 40 and clamp down on everyone else: Hi, Ivan and Michael,

When will the Celtics finally win a road playoff game this spring?

And... why don't they just let LeBron score his 40 points but clamp down on everyone else? It's not like the Cavaliers are a bunch of All-Stars.

Shouldn't the Celtics' defense be able to put shut down everyone NOT named LeBron? So let him score his 40, but then the C's wouldn't let up more than 80 to Cleveland for the game and have a great chance at winning Games 5 and 6.

Michael Lee: If the Celtics don't win a road playoff game this spring, they can be assured a rough, ringless summer.

As for your other point, I might have to agree with you. I think the Celtics should try to make sure James takes more jumpers, but they can't give the other four guys wide open shots.

The Cavaliers are more effective when LeBron is engaging his teammates. You look at his high assist games and the Cavaliers are winning. His low assist games - no matter how many points he scores - generally result in losses. You might be on to something.


Falls Church, Va.: Which LeBron dunk was better, his dunk over Tayshaun or KG?

Michael Lee: I'd actually have to go with his dunk over Rasheed Wallace in the conference finals last year. That sent a stronger message to me and actually had an impact on the outcome of the game. The dunk over KG came when the Cavaliers had already secured the win.


Falls Church, VA: Which new coach will make the biggest impact next season?

Michael Lee: Mike D'Antoni. He has a lower bar to rise from.


Washington, DC: Which young team in the East has more reason to hope going forward--the 76ers or the Hawks?

Michael Lee: That's a tough call. I like both of those teams going forward, especially if the Sixers can keep Andre Miller, Andre Iguodala and find a low post scorer. The Hawks need to add more veteran depth and keep both Josh Smith and Josh Childress.


Bethesda, Md.: Why did Kobe insist on controlling the ball and shooting in the overtime on Sunday when Fisher and Odom were hot and Kobe's setting up people with passes was working so well?

Michael Lee: I don't know what Kobe was thinking on Sunday. Not only were the Lakers rallying back when he was passing, but he had a bad back, too. I think Kobe simply got into attack mode and moved away from what was working. I was surprised that the Lakers didn't utilize Gasol and Odom more in overtime and used Kobe as a decoy.


Michael Lee: Whew. I'm tired, people. This was a great chat. I had fun, but I've got to go get ready to do Washington Post Live. We'll convene in a week. Peace.


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