Ivan Carter and Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, May 21, 2008 2:00 PM

Post staff writers Ivan Carter and Michael Lee were online Wednesday, May 21 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 checking in from Los Angeles, where I'm getting ready for Game 1 of the Western Conference finals tonight. This should be an exciting series, with the Lakers and Spurs facing each other for the sixth time since 1999. I'm feeling pretty good today - maybe not as good as the Chicago Bulls, but better than the Clippers. You've got questions; hope I've got answers. Let's go. . .


New Orleans: What do you think the difference in ratings would be if the finals were Pistons-Spurs or Lakers-Celtics?

Michael Lee: It would be exponential. Like the difference between the ratings of American Idol against Andy Griffith re-runs. I think if the Lakers and Celtics meet in the Finals, the ratings will be through the roof. David Stern said his perfect NBA Finals would be Lakers vs. Lakers, but he would be doing a nice little jig if the two most storied franchises in league history meet in the finals, allowing the league to bring out all the Magic-Bird footage. The Spurs are toxic to the American viewing public. They've been a part of the least viewed NBA Finals ever. They forced fans to turn away from league Golden Boy LeBron James.


Rockville, Md.: Will Boston be the first team to win an NBA championship without a single playoff road victory?

Michael Lee: No. They will have to win a road game before all is said and done. I think they will. But they are playing like that's how they want it. Before Game 7 against Cleveland, Doc Rivers said he didn't mind if his team had to play 15 more games to win the title. The disparity between their effort at home and on the road has been incredible.


Ivan Carter: Interesting lottery last night and all kinds of good stuff going on in this conf finals. Let's get to it.


New York: Was that fix-job last night pathetic or what? I mean, those "Bulls" balls had no chance to get up in the air. I'd almost rather they repeat the Patrick Ewing fix and go behind a curtain then come back in a few minutes with a olist in hand.

Michael Lee: Fix job? C'mon. I don't see how the league would've fixed it for the Bulls to win. If the league wanted to fix the lottery, last year would've been the best time with Greg Oden and Kevin Durant both going to the Pacific Northwest. It's really hard to fix a lottery with ping pong balls. The envelopes made it a bit more likely. I just think the Bulls got really lucky. Nobody complained with Orlando won back-to-back No. 1 picks. The Magic had less of a chance of winning the second No. 1 pick than the Bulls. I generally lean toward conspiracies more often than not. Not this time. No fix.


Hagerstown, Md.: Ernie Grunfeld has mentioned the possibility of trading the 18th pick in the draft or packaging it with a player in a trade. Of the current Wizards who would most likely be traded?

Ivan Carter: That's kind of the problem: the Wizards do not have pieces that make sense for trade partners. Etan Thomas missed an entire season and has a hefty contract that doesn't expire until 2009-10 and Darius Songaila and Antonio Daniels are in similar contract situations. I don't see Ernie getting equal value for someone like Andray Blatche who has a cheap contract that runs four more years. Pulling off any kind of deal that is going to drastically improve this roster will be difficult.


New York: I'd rather watch LeBron play in a 1-on-1 pick-up game than with the 4 other hacks on that team. I understand it is the job of sportswriters to rewrite history, to tell us how epic and great it all was, but that Game 7 was putrid from Cleveland's perspective.

Michael Lee: Did anyone call Game 7 a classic? I was there, watched every minute, and never thought I was at some historic event. It was the best game of that dreadful series, but I thought it was a game of 1-on-5, which is why the Celtics eventually won.

I think we all should be relieved that the best team advanced, so that we could have a really great Final Four in the NBA.


Worcester, Mass.: Never really saw KG's game until this year. He plays a lot farther from the hoop on offense than I expected; not really a power forward.

Granted his outside shot was with him last night.

Has he always been this way?

Ivan Carter: I've watched Garnett closely since he broke in with the T-Pups and yes, that is his game. Even when he won the MVP a few years back, his offensive game consisted of turnaround jump shots, fadeaway jump hooks and only the occasional hard move to the hoop. One issue is his body itself. The dude is light in the legs and trunk and gets moved off his spot rather easily. What I remind Boston fans all the time is that Danny Ainge got KG for the total package: his leadership, his desire, his work ethic, his defensive intensity, his shot blocking, his passing, his rebounding AND his scoring. He is not and never will be the low-post scoring threat Kevin McHale was which is ironic given that McHale drafted him and spent a lot of time working with KG as a young player. (every now and then KG will pull out McHale's slippery eel up-and-under but that's about it.)


Shaw, DC: What's up with Shuttlesworth? Is it mental or has he crossed over to old man river?

Michael Lee: It's probably both. There is something about the wall that shooting guards hit when they turn 32. It has happened to a number of all-star guards - Mitch Richmond, Michael Finley, Eddie Jones, Allan Houston, Anfernee Hardaway, Jalen Rose and so on. I know injuries impacted most of those guys, but you cannot forget that Ray Allen had two ankle surgeries after last season and hasn't had to play this many games in almost seven years! This is a grind, and he missed the playoffs the previous two years. He just doesn't seem to be moving like he did in the regular season, but that shot has been way off. The form is there, but he never seems to be comfortable.


Hanover, MD: Are there any free agents that you think the Wizards should try to get in the off season, and could they fit them in their salary cap or give an MLE to ? I realize we may have to wait until Jamison and Areneas are signed, but given that they are who would you like to see them target?

Ivan Carter: It's hard to answer that because everything will revolve around whether Ernie can re-sign Gilbert (if he opts out) and Antawn and at what price. I don't see Abe Pollin touching the luxury tax unless it's a really special circumstance so Ernie may not have much to play with. From where I sit, this team needs a P.J. Brown/Joe Smith/Kurt Thomas type to back Jamison up at the four and help spot Haywood and Blatche at the five. Of course, Ernie already heavily invested in a guy who kind of fills that role in Darius Songaila.


Gaithersburg, MD: Michael - There are reasons aplenty to back up your pick of Lakers in 7 vs. the Spurs, but could I just ask, did you pick the Spurs to win game 7 vs. the Hornets? (I did not, I had forgotten the Spurs could play D like that.)

Michael Lee: I originally picked the Spurs to win the series, but I was actually torn going into Game 7. Before the game, I was asked by several people who I was picking and I danced around the question like Chris Brown. But the reason I thought the Spurs would advance from the beginning was because they have been there before, Gregg Popovich is great at making adjustments, and I knew they wouldn't be overwhelmed under the pressure. You saw the Hornets get tight and could feel them shrinking as the game went on - that is until Mucho Jannero Pargo tried to save the day.


Annandale, Va.: Do the Wizards get Memphis's 5th draft pick as a result of the Juan Carlos Navarro trade? If not, what has to happen next year for the Wizards to get the Memphis pick?

Ivan Carter: No. Memphis keeps that pick because it was top 19 protected. The Wizards get a first round pick if Memphis finishes out of the top 16 next year. It is then lottery protected from 2010-2012. In other words, if the Grizz don't get better, the Wiz won't see that pick.


Gainesville, Va.: My guess is what the Wizards need is a Dennis Rodman (without the drama) or Ben Wallace in his prime. I doubt those guys were drafted very high. Is there anybody out there (or could it be McGuire) who would fill that need?

Ivan Carter: Every team in the history of basketball could have used a Ben Wallace or Dennis Rodman in their respective primes. That's why teams have overpaid hacks like Brian Cardinal over the years. As for this draft, if there is a Ben Wallace or Dennis Rodman in it, we won't know for several years and neither will NBA general managers. Now, it would be good if the Wizards could find a Paul Millsap who was taken by Utah with the 47th pick a couple years back.


Vienna, Va: Guys,

Watching the playoffs, the disparity between the East and West is monumental! The West teams tend to play a more balanced, smooth, and enjoyable brand of basketball (Spurs notwithstanding). Meanwhile, in the East (with the exception of the Pistons), it's a bunch of one-on-one plays and players. The Lakers/Jazz series was fantastic. Why on earth hasn't Jerry Sloan won coach of the year? The man can probably make the Knicks a playoff team.

Michael Lee: You know what's funny - When I landed in Los Angeles yesterday and saw the third-quarter score of the Pistons-Celtics game, I called my buddy and asked if the league could just shut down the Eastern Conference until it gets its act together.

I know teams have to play defense at this level, but does that mean that you have to miss open looks, too? I like offense, but the Eastern Conference playoffs have mostly been offensive.

The East teams have less talent (in terms of players and coaches) than those teams in the West, so they have to win with what they have, the best way possible. Unfortunately, that often means yuckball in the postseason.


20005: Hi all-- with the season over for the Wiz, do you have any idea what the players are up to? I imagine they need to decompress and re-energize before summer workouts. Are they all taking vacations in the Caribbean? Did Songaila and Pech visit family in their home countries? Do you guys keep tabs on them during this downtime?

Ivan Carter: The old guys hit the beaches with their wives/families and the young guys hit the clubs. That's about how it goes down. I do my best to stay in touch with as many guys as possible but that can be difficult. I know that Pech was going to go back to the Ukraine to see his family and Songaila is going to play for Lithuania in the Olympics. Eddie's probably playing a lot of golf.


DC: Is Mark Jackson still in the running for any coaching jobs? I hope not...he and Van Gundy are way too good calling games together.

Ivan Carter: Agreed. I'm a big fan of that team. Van Gundy's sense of humor is terrific and Jackson really knows his stuff.


Arlington, Va.: Seems like Chicago-native Derek Rose belongs in Chicago. He's also very talented. What do you think?

Michael Lee: The thing I like most about Rose is that he proved last year in Memphis that he can play with talented players without being a me-first, chest-thumping distraction. When he arrived in Memphis, he got all of the attention, but he did his best to fit in and let other players like Chris Douglas Roberts, Robert Dozier and Joey Dorsey get to shine from time to time. He took over when he had to, but he was a great teammate. That's what you want in a point guard.


DC: If Chicago drafts Beasley, do you think EG should try to pull a trade and get Tyrus Thomas?

Ivan Carter: What on this roster would the Bulls possibly want? Maybe Andray Blatche? Not sure I'd do that.


Washington, DC: Would you trade for Melo if you were Ernie? What would the Wiz have to give up for him?

Ivan Carter: I would imagine that any negotiation would have to begin with Ernie offering Caron Butler. But making the money match would be brutal. Melo is getting paid. Also, the dude can't stay out of trouble in Denver. What would happen if he were to be 45 minutes from Baltimore? Not good.


Rockville, Md.: Is there any chance in the dark we can go for Carmelo Anthony?

Ivan Carter: Yeah, and Abe can move the team back to B-more and rename them the "Snitches"


Virginia Beach, Va.: I know it's too early to predict any possible trades at the top of the draft, but say the Bulls take Beastly, doesn't it make sense for both the Sonics and the Heat to swap the No. 2 and 4 picks with the Heat picking up the Sonics other 1st round pick or a future 1st? Point guard seems like the Sonics biggest need and a Rose and Durant backcourt would be awesome. The Heat would get younger and improve their depth with the extra pick and they already have Wade at point guard. As an added bonus the Wizards wouldn't have to defend a Wade and Rose backcourt at least 4 times a year for the next 10 years.

Ivan Carter: Miami would be crazy not to take Rose. Put him at the point and let him get out and run with D-Wade and Marion. It would be Suns East. And I agree with you on one thing: The Wizards wouldn't want to deal with that for the next few years.


WDC: Any chance the Wiz do the hometown pick and take Hibbert @ 18 if he's still available?

Ivan Carter: I doubt it. Unless Ernie can move Etan Thomas, he'd have a log jam of bigs with Haywood, Thomas and Pecherov. Then again, Haywood has worked with big Roy over the years and would be a good mentor.


Manu Ginobli's World: Hey Guys, I don't think flopping is going to work for me in LA but once I get to San Antonio it's on.

Michael Lee: I'm disappointed that you don't feel that your acting skills will translate in Hollywood. C'mon Manu, this is your best chance to start the transition when your career is over.

Rodman flopped (pun intended) as a movie star, but anything can happen. If you can convince Jack in the front row, you might have a future, my man.


Washington, DC: Ivan and Mike, what current NBA players do you think would make good coaches down the line? I think you've mentioned Antonio as a guy with aspirations--what about Antawn?

Ivan Carter: Antonio could do it but he's told me that he has no interest in doing so. Antawn would be driven nuts by the lack of focus and drive exhibited by some players. No way I see him dealing with that. You know who would be a surprisingly good coach? Brendan Haywood.

Michael Lee: I'd have to go with Eric Snow, who is already drawing interest from the Bulls and the Bobcats despite being on the Cavaliers' payroll. I also think Sam Cassell would be a great coach. He has been a great motivator throughout his career and I'm just ready for his first big post game rant. That would be an ESPN Classic for sure.


Riverdale, MD : Not an Arenas hater, but never been a big fan either. What do you think is the best potential deal out there with Gilbert as the main attraction?

Ivan Carter: That's really hard to say because of his knee situation. Folks I've spoken with believe that teams will be hesitant to jump out with a monster offer and/or trade proposal given that Arenas has undergone two knee surgeries and looked nothing like his old self in the playoffs.


Key Match-ups Tonight: What do you see as the key match ups for tonight's game? Who will the Spurs put on Kobe? (Surely not Ginobili?) Who guards Odom?

Michael Lee: Bruce Bowen gets Kobe. Manu gets him a few times. I think Fabio and Kurt Thomas take turns on Odom, but Odom will be the key for the Lakers. If he plays the way he did against Utah, the Lakers have a great chance of winning this series. Amare Stoudemire (through the first three games of the Phoenix series) and David West (in every game in New Orleans) gave the Spurs lots of problems, but Odom is more mobile and versatile than those two.


Bowie, MD: How hard do you think it will be for the Wiz to add a true backup point guard (a young guy who can push the tempo and play good on-ball defense)? Seems like Memphis has 2 or 3 of those types. We just need 1.

Ivan Carter: I agree with you. That is an area of need for this team. DJ Augustin of Texas would be ideal but no way he falls to 18.


Rockville, MD: The Spurs are not 'toxic' to the viewing public, contrary to your assessment. When they play Dallas, Phoenix, the Hornets, etc. the ratings are fine, and nobody complains about a "boring" series. It only happens when their famed defense faces an already offensively challenged Eastern Conf. team.

Michael Lee: The question was about the NBA Finals. You check out the ratings when the Spurs get there. Fans tune them out. Last year's NBA Finals, which featured LeBron James, were the lowest rated in NBA history! You know what the worst ratings were prior to that? Spurs-Nets in 2003. That's toxic. That's a fact, Rockville.


LALA LAND: Out here in LaLa Land, we keep hearing that the Lakers should fear the Spurs but don't you think the Spurs should be fearing the Lakers? These aren't last years Lakers.

Michael Lee: Yeah, these aren't last year's Lakers, but they should still fear the Spurs. San Antonio is the defending champion and it plays defense better than Utah and, um, Denver, which never attempted to stop the Lakers in the first round. This is the most dangerous opponent LA has faced to this point. Do I still think the Lakers will win? Yes. Because I also think this is the best team San Antonio has faced this postseason. Kobe and Gasol have been great, but Odom and the Lakers' energetic bench is better than anything the Spurs have seen.


Arlington, Va.: Refereeing in the NBA has always been somewhat inconsistent and deferential to star players. But this playoff season seems more egregious, such as the Jazz-Lakers disparity in fouls or Pierce's phantom driving fall on Lebron late in game 6. It appears to me that the game is moving too quickly for the refs and consequently, they really have no idea whether a foul has occurred and so are just guessing based on experience, instinct, and the names on the backs of the jerseys. And this year, they are not guessing as well as in years past. Would you agree, or am I just getting old and crotchety?

Michael Lee: I think you make some valid points. I can't disagree with you. I know that the game is pretty hard to call. It's easy to see plays sitting above the court or while watching the games on TV, with replays and all. But I can't imagine what it's like to run up and down that floor and see everything.


New York: The Tim Donaghy story has taken a terrible turn. We now know he bet on games he officiated. Any dunce can fill in the blank on the next sentence: Outcomes (were/were not) affected. How are league people reacting outside Park Avenue?

Michael Lee: I haven't had a chance to talk to many people about that issue yet. I can't imagine that they are too worried. But I think the folks in the league office are praying that Donaghy quietly goes away and takes this story with him. The NBA did a great job of nipping the situation in the bud last summer, and it was a non-issue during the regular season.


Washington, DC: Mike, last week Ivan gave us the top ten moments of the Wizards' season. Maybe your top ten moments across the league this year?

Michael Lee:

Hmm. Top 10 moments. That might take awhile. But I'll take a shot off the top of my head - in no particular order.

1) When LeBron went for 50 and hit a half court shot at MSG. 2) Dwight Howard at the slam dunk contest. 3) Allen Iverson's return to Philadelphia. 4)When Jason Maxiell blocked Tyson Chandler's alley-oop dunk attempt. 5) That Hornets-Suns double-overtime game on the day Shaq was traded. 6) The Rockets winning their 22nd game in a row. 7) The Boston Celtics making the greatest single-season turnaround and sweeping the Texas triangle. 8) Travis Outlaw hitting a bank shot in Memphis that started Portland's improbable 13-game win streak. 9) The February trade frenzy for Gasol, Shaq and Kidd. 10) Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul's final regular season game, which probably determined the MVP award.


Michael Lee: Whew! That last question took a lot out of me. I've got to go. I had fun. We'll get back together soon. Peace.


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