Friday, Oct. 17at 11:30 a.m. ET

Wizards European Vacation

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Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 17, 2008; 11:30 AM

Post staff writer Ivan Carter and will be online Friday, Oct. 17 at 11:30 a.m. ET to talk about the Washington Wizards preseason games this week in Berlin and Barcelona.

A transcript follows.

Wizards Coverage

Discussion Archive

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Ivan Carter: Hello everyone from Barcelona. It's raining today so it isn't quite as nice as yesterday but it's still a pretty cool place. The Wizards play in a few hours and really need to have a better effort than the other night in Berlin. We'll see.

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Washington, DC: Ivan,

Last chat you predicted 45 or so wins for the Wizards. Still feel that way or do you want to change your prediction?

Ivan Carter: The injury to Brendan Haywood really hurts. There is just no way of getting around that. His size, length, quickness and defensive knowledge (the he puts the time in to really study an opponent is underrated) will be missed big time. That makes me chop off a few wins on my prediction.

I'll say 36-42 wins depending on the health of Caron Butler and Antan Jamison and the real wild card: Andray Blatche. If he brings it and this team gets nice contributions from Nick Young, Etan Thomas, Darius Songaila, Dominic McGuire and company, it can compete. Eddie Jordan is that good of a coach (he's displayed that the last two seasons)

The East is better though, no question. Wins won't come easy.

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Mexican Food Scene: Are the players/coaches showing any concern about our pre-season play?

I don't care about wins/losses, but our execution has been poor. Is it just because our starters have been out?

Ivan Carter: I was chatting with Caron Butler about that yesterday and while he made it clear that the preseason is all about the young guys, the vets were not happy with what happened in Berlin the other night. Preseason or not, a sellout crowd showed up to see a show and the Wizards really stunk up the joint at both ends (until the second half). Look for a better showing tonight. It helps that Jamison, Daniels and Dixon are expected to play.

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Fairfax, Va.: Hi Ivan,

As a BIG Wizards fan I have yo say that this season is looking very gloomy. With Haywood out Gilbert coming back December/January I just don't see the Wizards competing with the East, which may I add has improved significantly... Your thoughts?... Thank you.

Ivan Carter: As I said in my previous post when asked for a prediction, it's going to be tough. Assuming that Arenas comes back in late December (that's the chatter I'm hearing) the keys will be the health of Butler and Jamison and the development of the young guys. I don't want to be all gloom and doom because this team still has some talented and prideful vets and a very good coach but the competition is better. One key: can this team be above, at our just below .500 at Christmas when Arenas could be back? If so, they'll be allright.

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Silver Spring, Md.: So, I'e read great things about the 02 Center in Berlin. Is it as nice as I hear?

Ivan Carter: It's nice but small by NBA standards and not on the level of most NBA arenas. I would say that it could be compared to a very nice smaller market arena.

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Rockville Pike: If Demarr makes the team, who is more likely to be cut: Dee Brown or Juan Dixon.

And when will the final cuts be made?

Ivan Carter: There has been a lot of chatter about this among Wizards fans and I can see why because DerMarr is intriguing but I just don't see him getting that last spot over Juan Dixon. (Unless something totally shocking happens, I'm assuming that Dee Brown is safe as he is the only backup pg this team has until Gilbert gets back and Eddie clearly likes what he brings).

I see Juan and his partially guaranteed deal making but I will add this: Caron Butler made a point of praising DerMarr after the last game in glowing terms. Likes his game and likes his length at the defensive end.

He didn't knock Juan or anything but it was obvious that as a captain for this team, Butler wants DerMarr on that 15-man roster. Maybe he goes to Ernie (who is here by the way) and makes his case.

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Montgomery Mall: The season starts in 12 days. Do we even know who our starting center will be? Is it definitely Etan?

Ivan Carter: That has not yet been determined. Eddie has been starting Etan in the preseason but said it was not set in stone. He could go with Andray Blatche but Andray has been getting quick foul trouble (something that has been an issue for him his entire pro career so far) and Eddie may elect to keep him coming off the bench.

The key will be not so much who starts but who clocks the most pt and who finishes. One interesting thing to consider and something that makes Etan a viable option, is the fact that a lot teams are playing stocky, power forward types at center, body types he matches up well against. (For a good read on this trend, check out www.startribune.com/sports and an article on the Timberwolves by Jerry Zgoda).

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Luray, Va.: More on the Juan vs. Dermarr...

You've reported that Juan has a "partially guaranteed" contract.

If that means that he will be paid a portion of the contract, regardless if he makes the team -- then obviously, because of Luxury Tax reasons, Dermarr would be out..

On the other hand, if "partially guaranteed" means Juan gets a guarantee AFTER he makes the team -- then things come down to who plays better, and who brings more to the team.

Do you know any particulars about this "partial" guarantee?

Ivan Carter: Partial guarantee means he gets a chunk of money regardless of whether he makes the 15-man or not. I'm not sure how much the Wizards would have to eat but I think it's around $400,000 (depending on the number of seasons of service). T

hat money does count against the cap and tax regardless of whether he makes the 15-manor not.

Any player on the roster after a set date is January (not sure of the exact date, usually around the 15th) is guaranteed for the remainder of the season.

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Herndon, Va.: Hey Ivan, do you plan on catching a futbol game before you leave Barcelona? FC Barcelona has a game on Sunday.

Ivan Carter: I was hoping they were playing on Saturday but they don't. I fly out at noon on Sunday. Sadly, I won't catch my first game. The Berlin team did not have one scheduled when we were there. Bummer....

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Suitland, Md.: Ivan, this is the guy you met on the subway before your trip; How are the Wizards and yourself enjoying Germany? I been there and it is a beautiful country. What have you seen that caught your interest while traveling with the team?

Ivan Carter: Hey there. Berlin was really cool. I particularly liked the Unter Den Linden - a long strip that runs several blocks from the Brandenburg gate going east with restaurants, cafes and open stands that sell good beer and curry wurst (my favorite dish).

That entire area is really cool. The reichstag building is nearby as is the spot where Hitler's bunker was (it's now a parking lot that sits right next to a children's playground and an apartment complex. Ironically, the holocaust memorial is one block away.)

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New Orleans: I read an interesting interview with Arenas recently in which he stated part of the reason why Abe Polin/the Wizards signed him to such a big contract was partially based on the fact that he can bring in revenue for the organization.

He states, "It ain't all about on the court. It's if you sell your team's product. I'm a product seller. One reason they signed me back is I know how to sell."

Ivan Carter: That was obviously a factor. Arenas (when healthy of course) puts people in the seats, sells jersyes, gets the Wizards on national television and hit huge shots in the playoffs. Those things are very good for business. It was amazing to see the number of Wiz fans on the road increase the last two seasons and most of them were wearing Arenas jerseys and carrying "hibachi" signs. The guy moves things. That was clearly on Abe's mind.

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Rockville Pike: How is Dee Brown's jump shot looking? Is he still making shots as consistently as reported earlier? Any more specifics on his ability to penetrate, use his speed effectively, and dish to open men? Apart from the pick and roll defense -- a constant problem -- how'd he do against CP3?

Ivan Carter: They were picked apart by Chris Paul in Berlin. I mean, he really used them with that pick-and-roll game. It helped that Peja and company were making shots but that's what they do. That Hornets team is going to be very good. The bench is a little thin but if healthy, that squad is going to make serious noise again. Brown's shot looks good. I like the form and he lets it go with confidence. He's nine of 27 from the field and one of four from three-point range so far during games. I think he's good enough to make teams play him but not a guy who is going to go on a roll and carry you for a quarter or half. He's not Chucky Atkins. He's handling the ball well, pushing it up the floor quickly and playing decent defense (though Paul ate his lunch. he does that to everyone.) So far, I would say that Dee is what he's advertised to be: a good, solid backup point guard who can change the pace of a game.

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Logan Circle, D.C.: Ivan--

Last year before we played the Cavs in Round 1 you said that Wally Szerbiak and Roger Mason would be the series x-factors. You were right. Who is the Wiz' regular season x-factor?

Ivan Carter: I see two of them: health and Andray Blatche.

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Old G-Town Road: Any antics to report from the "Little 3"? What have Dom, Nick, and Dre been doing to entertain thereselves?

Ivan Carter: Nick didn't make the trip so I haven't had the opportunity to see him. That's a bummer. Dominic and Pecherov had a funny exchange the other day. I caught it on video and will post it. Andray was a little nervous about coming over here for the first time but I asked him about it yesterday and he said he's having fun.

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Washington, D.C.: Ivan,

In Nick Young's live chat last week, he listed the top 5 clowns on the team: 1. Nick; 2-3 (tie). Deshawn and Gil; 4. Blatche; 5. JaVale.

How would you rank the top 5 clowns? Do the antics of the aforementioned have a negative effect on practices and game outcomes?

washingtonpost.com: Wizards' Nick Young Talks Basketball, Documentary (washingtonpost.com, Oct. 7)

Ivan Carter: I would go with that list. And no, I don't think it has a negative effect. It's a fun group that knows when to get down to business. That tone is set by the vets like Butler, Jamison, Daniels and Etan Thomas.

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Washington, D.C.: Ivan,

You mentioned that Juan Dixon is the favorite at this point to make the team over Dermarr. If Juan has missed the whole preseason, while DJ has looked good and earned praise from Caron, what is the basis of Ernie's favoritism? Is his injury not a warning sign that he is getting older and is prone to miss more games when it really matters?

Ivan Carter: I guess you could say that but Juan got kicked in the calf. He's going to play tonight. I don't see that as being something indicative of a guy aging. Let's see how he plays in these last three games and then make a decision.

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Washington, D.C.: You hate to say it, since his return from surgery is so courageous, but Etan is not good. The Wiz are in big trouble if he is seeing serious minutes. Is there any chance that JaVale can take over Etan's minutes?

Ivan Carter: He's not ready for that kind of role yet. The kid has serious upside, no doubt about it. At least two or three times a game, he does something that makes you jump out of your seat and say "wow." He was terrific in the Memphis game but has struggled for the most part in the others. It's going to be a process. I think you can play him here and there early on and hope that he improves to the point that he can increase his role later in the season.

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Another missed diagnosis?: Any update on Nick Young? He was supposed to be out 1 to 1/2 weeks with knee soreness beginning Oct. 9. Is he still on schedule to come back in a couple days? Could it be longer? Should we be concerned? Is the rehab specialist on this?

Ivan Carter: Nick stayed back and is working with a rehab specialist. He told me that he'd likely miss the trip and expected to be able to play when the team returned to Washington (tonight with practice on Sunday). We'll have to see where he's at on Sunday and go from there. I'll ask Ernie for an update tonigth at the arena and throw it on the blog and/or in tomorrow's paper.

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Luray, Va.: In your opinion, who has been the surprise of the Preseason?

Dee Brown? JaVale McGee? Dom McGuire? Someone or something else?

Ivan Carter: The biggest surprise is that this team has only played well in one game. I expected a little better from a veteran team even considering the injuries.

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Vienna, Austria: Hi Ivan -- having moved from Vienna to Vienna, I really miss my Wiz, but the egg they laid in Berlin really makes you realize that they are in desperate need of a quality PG. See Ernie doing anything to address this?

Ivan Carter: Antonio Daniels didn't play the other night so keep that in mind. I think, given the circumstances, that Ernie feels comfortable with Daniels and Brown as his point guards until Arenas gets back. He doesn't have much choice. There aren't any saviors out there

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Bethesda, Md.: I haven't gotten a chance to see much of the preseason thus far so I was going to ask how has Pech looked so far in the preseason? Judging by his stats he seems to be rebounding better.

Ivan Carter: He's played pretty well. As you said, he's a good rebound and he has made 5 of 10 threes. If he can do those two things: rebound and knock down threes thus forcing opponents to draw a big away from the basket, he can help this team in spots.

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New Orleans: Are the Wizards going to continue to use those ugly gold and black road uniforms this season?

Ivan Carter: They wore them the other night. However, they will also introduce a new throwback this season: uniforms worn by the old Chicago Stags. They will be blue and gold I believe.

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Espanyol match: Hey Ivan - it's not the big club in town, but Espanyol play at the Olympic Stadium Saturday night in Barcelona. They play Villareal (second in the league) - tickets are probably cheap and plentiful. Would be worth it just to see Monjuic, the stadium and some incredibly high level soccer.

Wish I was there

Ivan Carter: There you go. I'll check it out. Thank you.

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Virginia: Ivan, being in the epicenter of what was the bombshell of the 1992 original Dream Team....how do you think basketball has changed both in the NBA and worldwide since the Barcelona Olympics?

Ivan Carter: Well, just look at these two teams. The Hornets have a star in Peja Stojakovic and the Wizards have a roster that includes a Lithuanian, a Ukrainian and a guy from Mars (Stevenson) so, the international effect is being felt. And then, just look at what has happened to the sport in Spain. Pau and Marc Gasol. Jose Calderon. Juan Carlos Navarro. Rudy Fernandez. Ricky Rubio (who may be the number one overall pick in two years). The sport has really lifted off here and the 92 olympics had a huge impact. I just asked the waiter who just filled by water glass about it and he said: "Jordan is God here."

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G Diddy: Any word on how Brendan's surgery went? How is he feeling? What about Gilbert?

Ivan Carter: No early word on Brendan yet. I hear that Gilbert is on track.

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Chocolate City:

A lot of people complain that we made a mistake spending $150+ million on a player who was already hurt and one who is getting older. In light of both their injuries does Ernie have any regrets at this point? Or are he and Abe confident that everything is going to be okay?

Ivan Carter: If they have regrets, they won't be telling me that's for sure.

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Buck Branch Park: Can we get a serious evaluation of Etan. Is he back to where he was? Is he 50 percent? 75 percent? 95 percent?

Let's be honest, Etan wasn't great to begin with. If he isn't fully recovered than he'll be a well-below-average starting center.

Give us some info. Should we be counting on Etan to give us 25-30 min/game of quality play or is it more like 10-15.

Ivan Carter: Etan's conditioning his good and his heart is fine so that is not an issue. And I think he has looked good in spots. He's blocked some shots, is shooting a good percentage (60.9 percent) and seems to be finding a flow. That said, you could argue that even before he went out last year, that Etan Thomas is not a starting NBA center for a real contending team. Whether he starts or not, look for him and Andray to split minutes with McGee getting some run here and there.

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Barcelona Wiz fan: How has Barcelona been? I live here and have been loving it. Can't wait to see my team tonight. I think we need to keep Dee and Dixon for their specialties more than Johnson for his upside.

Ivan Carter: Barcelona is great. Loved the downtown shopping district I saw yesterday and hit some cool spots last night. Good music. Fun people. And I agree with your take: I see the Wiz keeping Dee and Juan for what they can specifically do. Plus, they both have partial guarantees while DerMarr does not.

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Ivan Carter: Thanks for dropping in folks. I'm getting ready to head over to the arena for the game. Check out the blog for a pregame update.

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