A framed picture of Gilbert Arenas making a goofy face, surely the reason why Antawn Jamison is laughing, still hangs outside of the entrance to the training room from the Wizards’ locker room.
Flip Saunders, 600 and counting …
Before asking Flip Saunders the first question at Saturday’s post-game presser, I congratulated the coach on his 600th NBA career win. He begrudgingly acknowledged the feat by saying, “It just shows that I’ve been in the league a long time.”
“It’s scary because we’re not that far away, yet we are far away,” said Saunders after the victory over Sacramento. You have to feel for the coach. He certainly thought he was getting into a better situation in Washington, and surely didn’t think it would take 39 games to achieve the 13 wins he needed to get to 600.
But to Flip’s credit, he’s still riding his players hard and has not lowered his expectations. From recently suspending Andray Blatche for a game to keeping a tight leash, especially on his bench and the Wiz kids, Flip has held his players accountable. He challenged them before the Kings game, saying, “I told the players, if you’re not going to play hard, there’s no guarantees you’ll play. I said, ‘Nick [Young], you’ll play 30 seconds … if there’s a loose ball and you’re not getting on the floor for it’ … there’s no entitlement.”
And that brings us to game number 40, once hailed as an evaluation point for this Wizards team … after 20 games was pronounced as the initial period, and before it was changed a third time to 30 games … whatever any of that really means. Before today’s game against Portland, I asked Flip about the 40-game evaluation period and if it’s changed because of the Gilbert Arenas situation or if he knows all he needs to know about this team.
Coach Saunders said, “I think we know how things are moving along. It’s changed a little bit because I think that we’ve actually done some things recently to play a little better as far as taking care of the basketball, trying to get the ball to the right guys, and playing at a better tempo. We haven’t ever had a true evaluation because we haven’t had those guys always together. So, we’ll have to evaluate and move forward with who we have.”
Well, we know Flip will be moving forward without Arenas. And today, he gets Mike Miller back as an option against a depleted Trailblazers team without Brandon Roy, Greg Oden, and Joel Pryzbilla, among others. Still, with this Wizards team, you never know what you’re going to get, or rather, which poison they will pick as their downfall. One can only hope for the best … or just a decent game of basketball in the least.
The Nike Pan-African flag-colored shoes that several of the Wizards are wearing on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. This is the foot of Mike James.