Friday, Nov. 21 at 2:30 p.m. ET

Wizards and the NBA

Ivan Carter and Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, November 21, 2008; 2:30 PM

The Wizards have started the season 1-8, and face the Rockets tonight at home in a nationally televised game. Meanwhile, the Cavs, Lakers and Celtics are off to hot starts, the Pistons and Nuggets are meshing with their new stars and rookies Derrick Rose and OJ Mayo are making quick adjustments to the league.

Post staff writers Ivan Carter and Michael Lee were online Friday, Nov. 21 at 2:30 p.m. ET to take your questions about the Wizards and the rest of the NBA.

The transcript follows.

Wizards Coverage

Discussion Archive


Ivan Carter: Well, it's been a rough start and I'm sure there are a ton of questions about the direction of this team. Let's get going.....


Seattle: Argh! My hometown fave is what, 1-8? Sonics and Durant and Jeff Green gone. Gilbert and Brendan out, Roger gone. Blatche still not realizing how lucky he is and deciding to grow up some...

But hey, at least there's JaVale!

Ivan Carter: Pretty good summary of this team's situation. You are right, McGee is really the lone bright spot right now. Butler and Jamison are putting up the type of you numbers you would expect yet this team is 1-8. That tells you how poorly other players are performing and how devoid of real talent this roster is right now.


Columbia, Md.: I am so glad it is still football season, the Wizards have about a month and a half to get things turned around before Wizards fans really start paying attention to the team. The question is, can they get things turned around with the players they've got?

Ivan Carter: Coming into the season, the way I saw this team winning 40 to 45 games was if the following happened 1. Butler and Jamison stayed healthy and maximized their talents. 2. Gilbert Arenas returned with and got into a groove with at least half of the regular season remaining. 3. Andray Blatche busted out and really emerged as a weapon. 4. The youngs really developed.

In retrospect, I underestimated just how valuable Haywood and Roger Mason Jr. were to the this roster last season and I did not see Antonio Daniels dropping off as he has (he chalks up to a bad right knee.) That combo of events plus Andray's slow start has made this very explainable.


Washington, D.C. : Hi Ivan and Michael - thanks for the chats, and for keeping them up even though things aren't going too well this season! So what's the real deal on Andray Blatche? He doesn't seem to hustle and seems to laugh off his many mistakes. Why does Eddie keep putting him in for the final stretch of games? And is he a locker room problem? Would the Wizards be better off unloading him, even though they're stretched so thin right now?

Ivan Carter: It was a little bit shocking to me to hear Eddie Jordan once again talk about Andray's lack of conditioning the other day. I mean, the guy is in his fourth NBA season. That should not be an issue. Until he cares as much about basketball as he does living the NBA life, Andray may never realize his potential. It's shame because this team could really benefit from talents right now.


DC: If Arenas wants to play for a last-place team, I say we send him to the Grizzlies.

Ivan Carter: Good luck trading that contract. You might get more for a McCain/Palin bumper sticker right about now.


Tampa, Fla.: Arenas now says he won't play until after New Years and feels confident he can go 40 minutes per at that point. Can he save this club? How is Haywood post-surgery

Ivan Carter: The last two years have taught me one thing about Gilbert Arenas and his knee situation: Anything he or the team says about a timetable is pure speculation. I will believe it when he is actually on the court playing a game and not dragging that leg around the way he was late last season in the playoffs.


Suffolk, Va.: What are the chances that Ernie Grunfeld will pull off some kind of trade this season.

Ivan Carter: I guarantee that Ernie is regularly on the phone as is the case with all gms this time of year but looking at his roster and the salary structure, it's hard to visualize many trades that will drastically help this team in the short term. Name me the players on this team who are playing up to their salary right now? Butler and Jamison nmaybe? McGee for sure. After that who? Where is the value right now?


Rockville, Md.: What happened to Dixon's shooting from earlier this year? Do you think the pressure of having to play more minutes is now getting to him?

Ivan Carter: Juan has always been a gritty but undersized scorer who has never shot a particularly high percentage and is not a true point guard. Those are the facts. He was added to this roster to be the third guard behind Arenas and Daniels and periodically help as a scorer/shooter off the bench. If he's starting and/or playing heavy minutes, you are either a bad team or a team with a dangerously thin backcourt. Draw your own conclusions.


Springfield, Va.: You know what? Gil is worse than Marbury. At least Marbury wants to earn money and play, Gil sounds like he is trying everything possible not to play.

Ivan Carter: That knee is not ready for the daily grind of playing. We saw that late last season. That is why it is smart for Arenas and the Wizards to make sure that he is 100 percent before putting him back out there. I hate to make the comparison but I'm starting to have visions of Penny Hardaway and how he was never the same after a string of knee injuries. We have to wait and see.


Gilbert: Ivan and Michael,

Good morning. Have to agree with Gilbert and slowing down his comeback if the Wizards are way out of contention.

Would be a lost season. But we would pick up a Top 5 pick, get Gilbert and Haywood back 100 percent, and give McGee a season with a lot of minutes under his belt to improve for his season.

Do you agree with this rationale of marginally bringing back Gilbert?

Ivan Carter: Again, my take is solely related the conditiion of that knee. Once it is 100 percent, he should be out there playing. Until then, he should sit whether they are losing or not. This team invested $111 million in that guy with the long term in mind.


Maryland: With all the injuries and conditioning issues, should the team reevaluate their medical and athletic training personnel?

Ivan Carter: They added a rehab specialist this season to work exclusively with players who are injured or dealing with recurring issues. Ernie Grunfeld repeatedly states that he supports the team's medical staff (doctors and trainers) and believes that the slew of injuries can be attributed to simple bad luck.


New York: This team is far and away the worst in the NBA, indeed one of the worst in recent NBA history. Will anyone be held accountable?

Ivan Carter: Give it 25 to 30 games before making that statement. Yes, it's been an ugly start but it's still early. 11 of the next 16 games are at home.


Wizards Ticket Holder: Mr. Arenas said he is targeting the start of 2009 to return to playing, that "I definitely want to wait until after New Year's. ... It will give me time to get in shape. Plus I want to learn the new playbook."

Forgetting his other comments about finishing last so the Wizards can get the next Tim Duncan, what am I missing? He's a multi-million dollar a year playr and he hasn't started to learn the playbook?

Ivan Carter: I have no idea what he's talking about there. Yes, the offense has been tweaked but he's been at every practice and game since camp started. Chalk that up to Gilbertology I guess.


Bonifay, Fla.: Thank you for resuming your chats. In a year where the Wiz would have a hard time beating Dematha on a consistent basis, it's going to be a long one. IMO, no one is tradable except Butler, and that is not a suggestion. Blatche seems to be a head case. Although he is probably more useful than Songalia or Pecherov, can he be suspended without pay "for breaking team rules" until he gets into shape?

Does he have any trade value at all? A second would open a roster spot and some cap room to pay a veteran minimum to a point guard.

Pecherov has played 36 minutes in 4 games. Almost half his shots are 3s. McGuire has scored all of 3 points this season. Although it would be shortening the bench, might either of these guys be better off in Dakota?

On to the lottery with many balls.

Ivan Carter: For now, I seriously doubt that any of the young feels would be sent down. They are needed to practice sessions work and, Jordan is giving each of them chances here and there to play. As for trades, I go back to performance: who on this roster is playing well enough to garner real interest?


Maryland: Ivan, why aren't Nick Young and Javale playing 35 mpg? I'd rather watch them grow then seeing Etan and Stevenson turn the ball over, shoot bricks, and never pass the ball.

Ivan Carter: We are headed in that direction, believe me.


Washington, D.C.: Are we going to be able to get anything for Etan and AD's expiring-in-the-year-of-LeBron contracts? Seems like our only hope right now.

Ivan Carter: The way their deals are structured and given their levels of production, the fact that Daniels and Thomas have deals that will expire after the 09-10 season is the only thing that makes them remotely enticing. But remember, you have to take back contracts that match and who are you going to get? I seriously doubt that Ernie will want to take deals that are longer in return. That would only clog up his cap situation even more.


Michael Lee: Sorry, I'm running late. I'm on my way to Philadelphia and I had to pull out of huge traffic jam to find a place to talk to you. I'm here, let's go. . .


Washington, D.C.: Ivan: Twice in the chat you've said, in so many words, that Butler and Jamison are playing well this season. Are you watching the same games I am? Two All-Stars playing well isn't enough to win more than one game?

Ivan Carter: Let me clarify: neither Butler nor Jamison is playing like an all star but both are putting up numbers that are decently in line what they did last season. Jamison's scoring and rebounding averages are slightly down and he's not shooting great from three-point range but neither player is that far away from what they've done in the past.

The bigger issues has been non-existent point guard play (thus the low assist numbers), inconsistent play out of the center spot, no offensive production out of the starting shooting guard and a total inability to close out games down the stretch. My point being: this team has problems that go way beyond what Butler and Jamison do.


Maryland: Why are the Bobcats dangling Wizard-Killer Gerald Wallace out there? If they want a PF, I'd trade Jamison for Wallace in an instant (they make the same salary). Sure Wallace is undersized, but so is Jamison.

Ivan Carter: Wallace plays the same position as Caron Butler no? How would removing a 20-10 guy help this team in the short or long term?


what if....: We didn't sign Gil to a max contract. Who would we have brought? What would our record be?

Ivan Carter: I'll say it one more time: given the team's cap situation, Ernie would have had to allow both Arenas AND Jamison walk in order to make a run at a big money free agent (like Elton Brand for instance but he was never coming here anyway).


Alexandria, Va.: What are your thoughts about Nick Young's ups-and-downs so far this year? Do you see him developing into a legit number 2 for a playoff contender in the next couple of years?

Any chance of us signing Damon Stoudamire?

Ivan Carter: Young can score, no doubt about that but he's learning how to play at the end of games, his defense remains a work in progress and he's not a particularly good ball handler or passer. Right now, he's every one-dimensional but getting better.


Baltimore: I'm still torn on how got the best of the trade in the Iverson-Billups deal. To me it appears it was Denver but if Iverson goes off in the playoffs, it's possible it could be Detroit. What do you guys think?

Michael Lee: I think this is a win-win for both teams to be honest. And, I think you have to tip the trade in favor of the Pistons if and when Antonio McDyess re-signs next month. That isn't a given, since Cleveland can sign him to more money, but I'd be somewhat surprised if he doesn't go back to Detroit.

As for the players who are on the floor right now, Iverson gives Detroit a dimension of speed and spontaneity that they didn't have with Billups, while Billups provides the opposite for Denver: a calming presence and more discipline. This deal works both sides. If Iverson can help Detroit reach the finals, you can't knock Joe Dumars for taking a risk.


San Diego: Gentlemen:

What an atrocious start! With Abe in failing health, who's running the show and is there a triggering point (i.e. 1-20) at which there's a change made in the front office or behind the bench?

Disgruntled on the West Coast....

Ivan Carter: Ernie Grunfeld is in full control. I really don't know what kind of breaking point he/Abe Pollin would have as far as Eddie Jordan is concerned because the team picked up his option for next season already. Also, if you really look at the way this team has been built and given the injuries to Haywood and Arenas as well as Abe's refusal to pay the tax, can Eddie Jordan really be blamed for this?


Maryland: Despite the losses this year, shouldn't Brendan Haywood feel a little vindicated? He's always wanted more minutes. He's always been the best defender and center on the team. Jordan responded by playing Ruffin, Songaila, and Etan over him during the past five years.

Ivan Carter: Trust me, he feels very vindicated.


Maryland: Ivan, Will Eddie Jordan ever learn to play his best players? He continues to prefer playing small-ball. Etan Thomas doesn't deserve to be on the court. Songaila has a grand total of five rebounds this year. Javale only played 22 minutes against Atlanta. He should be playing a minimum of 30 minutes a game. I'd rather watch him develop than see Etan continue his horrid play.

Ivan Carter: Again, you will see McGee and the other young fellas on the court more and more. It's obvious.


Bowie, Md.: Shouldn't the Wizards trade Jamison? He's making a reasonable salary of around $9 million this year, before the increases hit. If a contender offers a contract that expires at the same time as Etan and Daniels, shouldn't the Wizards bite, especially if they can include Songaila or Stevenson (contracts that expire a year after Etan and Daniels)?

Ivan Carter: Depends on who you get back in such a deal. Remember, if Arenas and Haywood come back healthy and McGee keeps coming along, this team could be pretty good this season or next.


Miami: Getting way ahead of ourselves here, but I've got to say that the idea of getting a top 5 pick and drafting Ricky Rubio is pretty intriguing. Can you imagine a roster with the Big 3, Haywood in the middle, Rubio at the point (with Gil moving to the 2), NY and Deshawn backing up at G and Mcgee and Blatche as the backup big men? Maybe Gil knows what he's talking about...

Then again, we would probably never actually see this lineup because at least 4 players would be injured.

Michael Lee: You ARE getting way ahead of yourself. But chances are one of those guys will be hurt.


Washington, D.C.: Michael,

Last year Kevin Durant had a free pass to do whatever he wanted... he's still playing at the wrong position and way behind where some people thought he'd be. Now Westbrook seems to take whatever shot he wants whenever... why is PJ not fired yet? Do you like PJ? Do you like OKC's future?

Michael Lee: P.J.'s job is on real shaky ground. He was surprising hire because one of his problems in Golden State was that he didn't really want to play young guys, then he's asked to lead one of the youngest teams in the NBA in Seattle/Oklahoma City. I never call for coaches to be fired because that is not my place, but I don't think he's the best coach for those guys right now. I'm not sure if they can really relate to him or understand what his plan is. The fact that they are 1-11 and they started out 0-9 last season isn't encouraging. That team will get drilled because the roster is no good, but you like to see a team making progress. I don't see the Thunder doing that.


Eddie comment: Yes, we are losing but not because of Eddie Jordan. We have lost 60 percent of our starters and have 3 young guys in heavy rotation, and one guy coming back from open heart surgery.

This is a lost year. Glad I don't have season tickets. Hopefully next year, we will not have the major injuries again and can pick up a guy in the draft that can contribute from day one.

Ivan Carter: That about sums it up.


DC: How about Jamison for Okafor?

Ivan Carter: Why would I trade a guy who gives me 20 and 10 and has taken me to the playoffs for a guy who gives me 10 and 10 and get his team more than 30 wins?


Phoenix: Given the way the Wizards haven't been rebounding much, why not let Dominic play a bit more and see what the kid can provide? He's not a scorer, but he provides a lot of energy and rebounds well, two things this team needs.

Ivan Carter: One issue with this team is that the parts are so disjointed. McGuire is a good defender/rebounder but can't score. Young can score but that's about it. Dee Brown is really quick but not a scorer and very small. Songaila can pass, shoot and screen but can't rebound and doesn't give you length. Pecherov can shoot the 3 (or at least he's willing) but doesn't get on the low block. It's just a mash of players with different skill sets and no real point guard. That's a recipe for trouble.


Northern Virginia: What do you think of Oden so far? I see signs that he will be beast and other signs he might be just a Kendrick Perkins-type player.

Michael Lee: Kendrick Perkins? C'mon. Oden will average much more than 7 and 7 in his career. I like what I've seen from Oden so far. I think people are expecting him to average 25 and 12 and he just won't on that team. The Blazers have a lot of talent surrounding him, with Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge among others. They also already had a decent center in Przybilla. Oden will be good, but you have to give young big men time. He's just 20 and he missed an entire year of basketball. Relax. Be patient. I don't think you'll have these concerns in three, four years - when he's dunking all over Perkins.


Virginia: Any truth to the rumors of Hughes heading back to D.C. in a trade using AD, Etan or maybe Songs?

Ivan Carter: I know that discussions were held between the teams over the summer but nothing came of it. Hughes is owed big money and he's always injured. Is that really what this team needs right now?


Washington, DC: While McGee looks great so far, given the Wizards point guard and defensive woes, wouldn't Mario Chalmers look equally great in a Wizards uniform?

Ivan Carter: I like what I see from Chalmers but given McGee's upside, it was a very wise pick. You just don't get 7-footers with that length and skill set very often.


Fairfax, Va.: Let's assume the Wizards continue their awfulness, and finish as the worst or one-of-the-worst teams in the NBA. It seems doable if arenas doesn't make it back.

What college forward is available who could come in and get some rebounds and play some defense for this team?

Will they have any money for free agents?

Michael Lee: I'm not ready to call the season lost, but to follow your logic, the best big men in college basketball are Oklahoma's Blake Griffith, Ohio State's BJ Mullens and UConn's Hasheem Thabeet. The last two are primarily centers, but there is no problem adding more size.


Jamison's, NE: Ivan: What can you tell us about Jamison's knees? Not so much the injury this preseason, but generally. I've noticed in the past that he does whatever he can to avoid bending his knees much, most notably when going for loose balls on the floor. The craziest example of this was in the first game of this season against New Jersey. If you have tape of that game, watch it. When the score was still 0-0, there was a loose ball under the basket. Jamison went for it, but to avoid bending his knees, he practically did a split. Can you imagine dropping a pen and picking it up by doing a split? Those must be some messed up knees.

Ivan Carter: That's always been the case with Antawn. It's one reason why he's taken up yoga to create more flexibility but as you noted, he does stand straight-legged most of the time, especially on defense and that his why the quicker PF types given problems. Then again, he does have amazing pogo-stick leaping ability for a guy with skinny legs. It's amazing to watch him anticipate where a ball is falling and reach before taller opponents.


DC: How about Jamison for Kobe?

Michael Lee: How about Jamison for Kobe and Gasol?


Jaminson: I know Jaminson isn't so good he can't be traded if the deal makes sense, but why are so many Wizards fans so dismissive of a 20-10 guy? That kind of guy isn't as easily replaced as some people think.

Ivan Carter: It's like death, taxes and the Vikings letting me down: every year, I get flooded with "trade Jamison" requests.


Washington, D.C.: I was surprised to see DeShawn Stevenson still do the "I can't feel my face" celebration after hitting a big shot towards the end of the game against the Hawks. Of course he does that and the Hawks come back to win the game. Has he not learned from last year? Some of those antics are uncalled for and get old. Especially when you've only won ONE game this season.

Ivan Carter: He would be better off making more shots in the first place.


Frederick, Md.: Any chance of Leonsis taking over management of the team soon so that resigning guys like Juan Dixon isn't our big off-season acquisition? We need an owner who will go over the salary cap and acquire present talent instead of drafting so many projects. Leonsis has learned by owning the Caps how to run a good franchise...

Ivan Carter: Well, Ted is next in line


Augusta, Maine: From the box scores, Oleksiy Pecherov hasn't done a thing all season. How has he looked in person? Does he have an NBA future or did we blow a draft pick?

Michael Lee: In this case, the box score doesn't lie, my man. I wouldn't call it a blown pick because he was taken so late in the draft. Those guys are generally hit or miss. Right now, it looks like a miss if Pech is just going to a big jump shooter who isn't hitting shots. He's got to add more to his game, but you have to remember, he basically lost all of last year with that ankle.


Washington, D.C.: Does the team resent the fact that Arenas is unable to help them right now even though he has a $100 million contract? How is the relationship between Eddie Jordan and Arenas right now?

Ivan Carter: Unless he feels terribly different privately, Jordan wants Arenas back only when he's really ready to help. Going out there one a bad knee and risking another setback won't help anyone. Then again, I'm sure Eddie would love to have 30 points a game and those game-winning shots.


Washington, D.C.: Don't know whether you addressed this in an earlier chat or whether your opinion has changed, but what would be your over/under for Wizards wins this year? 15? 20?

Michael Lee: You think it's that high? Seriously, the Wizards should win at least 15 and 20 combined. I'm being honest.


Ivan Carter: Thanks for dropping in folks. Let's see if the Wizards can get one tonight and/or tomorrow night in New York. Keep reading.


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