With Mitch Richmond out for at least two weeks with a fractured rib and rookie Richard Hamilton's status unknown for personal reasons, veteran Reggie Jordan or rookie Laron Profit could start at shooting guard for the Washington Wizards tonight against the Dallas Mavericks.
There is an outside chance that Hamilton could play and possibly start. He will attend his grandmother's funeral this afternoon in Coatesville, Pa., and might return by game time.
"It's more of a mental thing than anything," Hamilton said. "If I had to make a judgment right now, I could say I could come back. But until I go through [the funeral] and being with my family and things like that, I can't say if I'm going to be here or not."
Jordan seems to have the edge over Profit to start, in part because he plays routinely, albeit scant minutes. He's also familiar with his Dallas counterpart, swingman Michael Finley.
Jordan and Finley grew up in the Chicago suburb of Maywood and attended Proviso East High School. Jordan said he has played against Finley for years on their neighborhood playgrounds and thinks that could be a factor in him getting his first start since he played with the Minnesota Timberwolves last season.
"He grew up watching me and I grew up pushing him around," Jordan joked.
Added Wizards Coach Gar Heard: "It would be in Reggie's favor because he's played against Finley before and Laron hasn't played him before."
There is a chance the Mavericks could start Hubert Davis at shooting guard but that probably would not change Heard's plans about who would start.
Between them, Profit and Jordan have no starts and have combined to score 39 points this season, six more than Richmond's one-game season high. Jordan averages 6.7 minutes per game while Profit has appeared in only 12 games because he has been on the injured list with tendinitis in his left knee.
Neither is much of an offensive threat, especially from the perimeter. The offensive onus will be on point guard Rod Strickland and small forward Juwan Howard. Both had big games in a 105-101 loss to Boston on Monday, but Heard said other players need to provide some help.
"With Laron or Reggie out there you only have Rod and Juwan to score," Heard said. "Jahidi [White] and Michael [Smith] will do all the dirty work, but we're going to be hurting offensively. We have to keep teams from scoring easy baskets. If we can cut down on [turnovers], we could have a good chance. You give up 20-plus turnovers--like we have--you're making it tough."
Washington has turned over the ball 73 times in the past three games.
Heard said he did not want to start reserve small forward Tracy Murray at shooting guard because of the matchup with Finley and because Washington has no other small forward to back up Howard.
Murray has played some at shooting guard the past three games because Hamilton missed two games when he returned home to Pennsylvania upon hearing of his grandmother's death. Heard also had to shuffle his lineup after Richmond was placed on the injured list Saturday.
"I like to use Tracy in special situations" at shooting guard, Heard said. "I don't want Tracy to get into foul trouble right away."