The Washington Wizards plan to carry a full 17-man roster into Friday night's preseason finale at Indiana. Teams have until 6 p.m. Monday to establish a 15-man regular season roster, and an assortment of minor injuries means that Coach Eddie Jordan won't make any moves before the weekend.
The two players who could be on the outside looking in are forward Awvee Storey and guard Billy Thomas, but they have at least one more game to make an impression.
The team will have the option of sending second-year center Peter John Ramos, second-year forward Hiram Fuller and rookies Andray Blatche and Donell Taylor to the NBA's Developmental League.
Guard Gilbert Arenas, whose right eye was scratched during a game against the Denver Nuggets in Los Angeles on Friday and who missed Sunday's game at Houston, did not practice yesterday and visited a doctor. Arenas may play Friday night.
"He still has a little redness in the eye, so he had it looked at but he's going to be fine," Jordan said.
Guard Antonio Daniels sat out of practice yesterday so he could rest an ankle that has bothered him since he rolled it during practice on Oct. 14. Storey, who missed Sunday's game with a hamstring pull, also was limited.
Guard Jarvis Hayes, who has missed the last five games with knee soreness after a strong performance against San Antonio on Oct. 13, has been limited to shooting drills and will not play Friday night.
"We're monitoring him, we're being very patient with him," Jordan said of Hayes, who missed the second half of last season with a fractured right patella. "We want him to rest now so he can go for a longer length of time. We know that if we put him out there too early, we think that it's going to be a hampering, lingering kind of thing. We want to really rest it while we have the luxury to do that."
Despite the setback, Hayes has been in good spirits and is aiming to be ready in time for the Nov. 2 season opener at Toronto, but Jordan would like to see him go full speed in practice before putting him out on the court in a game situation.
"We're hoping he can get a few practices under his belt so he can get some rhythm and some game feel going a little bit," Jordan said.
While the Wizards are not overly concerned about their 2-5 preseason record -- the team finished 3-5 last preseason before going 45-37 when the games counted -- the run of nagging injuries means that the team's core players are still developing on-court chemistry as the regular season approaches.
For example, Arenas and Caron Butler -- the two leading scorers during the preseason -- have played together in only three games.
Centers Brendan Haywood and Etan Thomas, forward Michael Ruffin and point guard Chucky Atkins are the only players who have participated in all seven preseason games, and Jordan has observed the potential starting lineup of Arenas, Daniels, Jared Jeffries, Antawn Jamison and Haywood in just two games.
Arenas has missed three games, Butler missed the opener, Daniels missed the Memphis game and Jamison missed Sunday's game with a shoulder bruise, though he did practice yesterday and will play Friday night.
"We want to get guys healthy first and foremost and then, from there, we want guys to get a better understanding of the offense," said Haywood, who has averaged 5 points, 4.7 rebounds and a block per game. "A lot of guys right now don't know it as well as we need them to and that kind of hinders everybody. We don't have an offense where one guy can mess up and we can keep going. If one guy messes up, we're all out of sync."
Wizards Notes: The Wizards have until Monday to offer contract extensions to Butler and Jeffries. If the team doesn't reach agreements on extensions with the two players, they would become restricted free agents next summer, meaning the Wizards would have the option of matching any offers made to them by other teams.
"We've had some conversations" about extensions, President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld said. "We'll continue to talk."
The team also has through Monday to pick up the fourth-year contract option on Hayes, who is entering the final season of his original three-year rookie contract. If the team does not exercise its option on Hayes as it is expected to, Hayes would become an unrestricted free agent following the season. . . .
Blatche took part in shooting drills with the rest of the team for the first time and continues to recover from injuries he suffered to his right arm and left chest area during a shooting on Sept. 25, though the team still has not set a date for his full return to practice. Blatche also came up big in the eyes of teammates.
At the end of practice, Jordan asked Blatche to step to the free throw line for one attempt. A miss would have forced the Wizards to run three "suicides," or three timed sprints from one baseline to the other and back. Blatche calmly swished the free throw and was quickly engulfed by happy teammates.
"He was a hero today," Jordan said.