With a host of newcomers and a growing list of injuries, the Washington Wizards head into Day 2 of what Coach Flip Saunders called an in-season training camp that’s expected to have the feel of an open tryout.
Unlike yesterday’s lighter practice though, this morning’s session is expected to be more rigorous as the coaching staff determines which players will start on Saturday as well as distribution of playing time among the reserves.
The Wizards again could be without a handful of regulars for their next game against the Los Angeles Clippers. On Tuesday night against Milwaukee, Rashard Lewis, Josh Howard and Cartier Martin were unavailable, and starting power forward Andray Blatche left the game early in the first quarter with a strained right shoulder.
So with a thinned roster, Saunders said he would consider all options, including using five rookies on the floor for a second straight game. Near the end of the first quarter against the Bucks, he turned to a lineup comprising John Wall, Jordan Crawford, Trevor Booker, Kevin Seraphin and Hamady N’diaye. It was the first time an NBA team had used an all-rookie lineup in more than a year.
“I think the guys are aware there’s opportunities for anybody,” Saunders said.
Crawford made the most of his on Tuesday, scoring a career- and team-high 22 points in his seventh game with the Wizards since arriving in a Feb. 23 trade from Atlanta. Also coming to Washington in the deal that sent guard Kirk Hinrich to the Hawks were Maurice Evans and Mike Bibby, whose subsequently reached an agreement on a contract buyout and was waived five days later.
Crawford was the New Jersey Nets’ first-round pick and is starting to settle into the role of No. 2 shooting guard behind Nick Young, who was slowed against the Bucks with discomfort in his knee. Crawford’s playing time has increased steadily over the past four games, culminating with 26 minutes 35 seconds on the court against the Bucks.
“We’re coming down the stretch” in the season, Crawford said. “We just want to have a wining record as the season ends. Hopefully we can do that.”