I suppose people, myself included, can’t exactly help themselves when a team jettisons two guys named ‘Johnson’ from its roster. The official Washington Wizards blog treated the happening as if naming a law firm (or health care products/pharmaceuticals company) with the title, “Wiz Waive Johnson and Johnson.” Wizards Insider, usually run by the Washington Post’s Ivan Carter and Michael Lee, went the safe route with, “Wizards Release Two.” Someone named Alexa Steele filled in for Carter and Lee on this specific post….I guess when you have what sounds like a porn name already, you might want to avoid sexual innuendos by spitting out Johnson, the word. But alas, Mike Jones of the Washington Times ‘went there’ with his title, “Wizards Cut Johnsons.” C’mon Mike….don’t you know that Johnsons would rather be released than cut?
Ok…enough of that, back to the point at hand. Two positions of need assumed by Wizards fans this past offseason, before Gilbert Arenas went down, were a small forward to backup Caron Butler, and a third string point guard. After Dee Brown was signed, along with the summer league developments of Dominic McGuire’s mid-range jumper, the school of thought was that the former player would fill the latter position of need and vice versa. Working off these assumptions, Ernie Grunfeld would hold the 15th roster spot in a glass encased box to be broken in case of emergency.
Then Gilbert Arenas happened…..then Brendan Haywood happened….Haywood’s wrist surgery not having a greater influence over roster moves, as the Wizards seemingly had a logjam at the post position (Etan, Oily, ‘Dray, JaVale and Jamison — hey, that sounds like a MotheringHut t-shirt…..just remember where you heard it first).
Personally, even with Arenas in the lineup, I was worried about perimeter scoring off the bench, specifically wanting a three-point threat considering the loss of Roger Mason, Jr. to the Spurs. Sure, I was concerned with the ability to spell and save Caron Butler from playing too many minutes….but if The Cleaner could swing down there, all would be kosher.
With Arenas out of the picture for an indeterminate amount of time, the need for point guard assistance became glaring. Steps in Ernie Grunfeld, The Closer, to sign Juan Dixon, who not only has the capability/potential to supplant a 32-year old achy-wristed Antonio Daniels, and a young, inexperienced quickie in Dee Brown, but also the ability to wet the net from long distance. Not to mention that Dixon is already familiar with Eddie Jordan’s system, having played for the Wizards before.
For some, there were concerns about Dixon’s ability to be an efficient contributor, and for others, thoughts that Juanny might be the ticket. And so began the debate, Juan Dixon v. DerMarr Johnson, in the form of a smackdown, some madness, and a wackout…the outcome of which certainly wasn’t helped by strong DerMarr training camp and preseason performances pitted against a sidelined Dixon due to a calf injury.
But even before this was able to be hashed out on the court, MSM outlets “in the know” were reporting that Dixon was “all but guaranteed” and a “safe bet” to make the Wizards, leaving Boss Slim with neither straight pockets, nor a manager to his boss.
When Dixon finally saw action in the last preseason game, we were only left with a brief sample of what the latest version of him can do: 0-4 from the field….but five assists to only one turnover. I’ll easily give Juan a pass on the missed shots….it was his first game of the year. But the assist-to-turnover ratio certainly sparks a glimmer of hope in my eye. I wasn’t able to watch the game (just got the DVR up and running), so I’ll be paying close attention to what Juan can do, among many other team activities, in the final two preseason games.
I liked what DerMarr Johnson was showing, and really wish that there was a way to keep him on the squad….but the cliché dictates that it’s a numbers game. Hopefully he can catch on somewhere else and make a career for himself. In the end, I resigned myself that Grunfeld and Jordan best know the needs of the team and have made a decision accordingly. Stay tuned to see what the Wiz dribble out next.