The Washington Wizards held a players-only meeting in Salt Lake City Monday afternoon with players reportedly urging one another to focus on their jobs and follow Coach Gar Heard's system.
Though no player would reveal details, some players said that the gist of the meeting revolved around staying upbeat. Personal feelings and bad attitudes needed to be shelved in order to avoid what could become a long, miserable season, some players said.
"We want to pull together and we want to pick each other up," point guard Rod Strickland said. "No negativity. When things go bad we're going to encourage each other and just play through the bad times. It's tough when you're losing. Everything seems to be going wrong and you look at a whole bunch of different things. But we're going to stay positive and stay together as a group and cover each other's backs."
Before Washington (5-15) left on its four-game West Coast road trip, which continued tonight with a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, there were signs of dissension. Some players were not happy with how they were being substituted while others said Heard's heated lectures during timeouts had grown tiresome.
Heard said he felt the frustration of losing triggered some of the feelings and that everyone, including himself, was going through a difficult transition period because of Washington's slow start.
"We had a nice meeting and everybody got some stuff off their chests and that's how it's supposed to be," center Ike Austin said. "Now we're going to go out there and play together."
The players-only meeting came two days after a gathering of both players and coaches following a 10-point loss to Sacramento Saturday. During that meeting coaches and players made suggestions and comments about how to right the team's wrongs.
Heard and some players categorized that meeting as constructive.
Wizards guard Mitch Richmond, a six-time all-star, is back to his old self. Over the past four games he has averaged 24 points, including a season-high 30-point game against Cleveland. Washington lost all four games, though. . . .
Forward Aaron Williams, who has a penchant for fouling, played just four minutes against Utah because he had five fouls in that span. He failed to score or grab a rebound.