The first practice for new Wizards Josh Howard, James Singleton and Quinton Ross had a media buzz in the air, yet a slightly somber tone on the court. Most of those already on the team ducked the awaiting press by exiting the practice court from a side door. Antawn Jamison, however, made his presence known by singing the Black Eyed Peas’ “I got a feeling,” down the hallway as he headed into the locker room. He later would make the media wait around 30 minutes for him to speak until a Wizards PR person finally declared that ‘Twan had left the building. For good? We don’t know.
It seemed like forever since I’d been in the Verizon Center. Sixteen days to be exact. With the Atlanta Hawks game originally scheduled for February 6th postponed because of snow, the last time I was around in the catacombs of the house that Abe built was on February 1st when the Wizards barely mustered 10 points in the fourth quarter and lost to the Boston Celtics 99-88.
Days like Tuesday afternoon’s practice are always interesting. I walked into the press lounge to see several faintly familiar faces; the television personalities who only show up on noteworthy days with their camera crews in tow. Some of the regulars wondered how many of them knew the difference between Ross and Singleton. Nonetheless, I don’t expect much coverage from the infrequent media masses once the trade deadline passes.
Of course, I type this as if I were some grizzled veteran when I just started covering the Wizards with media access last September. Then again, the circumstances surrounding the team this season is enough to give a blogger some gray hairs.
I wished a Happy New Year to the familiar media faces. The two weeks between appearances, and the cleansing of the first, third and fourth longest tenured (non-suspended) Wizards, made it seem like the twelfth month of the calendar had just been turned. When, more than “if”, Jamison gets traded, Andray Blatche will become the longest tenured player with the team, not counting the suspended Gilbert Arenas. Wow, didn’t imagine that when the season started, among pretty much everything else that’s happened.
But now it’s time to steer a different course. The voyage is going to be painstakingly slow and we don’t know how long it will take, or if we’ll ever get to the destination … Larry O’Brien Trophy Island.
Nonetheless, let’s start with the fresh faces of today who might be off of the shipped tomorrow. Howard, Singleton and Ross spoke for the first time as Washington Wizards on Tuesday, and there’s video of that below, but first ….
The Curse of Gerald Wallace?
Josh Howard’s ankle problems date at least back to November 2008 when he rolled it while taking a charge from … get this … Gerald Wallace. Yes, the same guy who collided with Gilbert Arenas on April 4, 2007, injuring his knee. Weird.
Howard missed several games before being sidelined indefinitely in early December ’08, but eventually made a return to the court on December 15th. By April ’09, Howard’s ankle issues became chronic and he received a least one cortisone injection. It became apparent that surgery would be needed. But Josh toughed it out and was a hero for their Mavericks in their first round playoff series win against the San Antonio Spurs that Spring.
On May 21, 2009, Howard had arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle and wrist. He worked to rehab, but things obviously didn’t go perfectly. Howard missed the first five games of this season, played in the next three, but then was shelved for the next 13.
In January, Howard said about his ankle, “It’s been a whole lot better. I’m surprised the way it’s feeling now. I’m almost back to my old self.”
However, on Tuesday Howard attributed his struggles this season to his ankle, saying that it’s currently at 75-80%. Perhaps this is why the physical exams for the trade were waived.
In any case, Howard’s ankle is something to keep an eye on as the karma of Gerald Wallace and the history of the Wizards’ medical staff can’t be glowing endorsements for a positive outcome.
- Quinton Ross is a Dallas native, and of course he said he was a Cowboys fan. But he just got traded from his hometown, so give him a break.
- For the time being, the new players are staying at the ‘W’ Hotel in Washington, DC. So … welcome to the snow, welcome to a bad team, but at least you get to stay in a swanky hotel overlooking the White House where Obama lives.
- James Singleton’s Trade Clause: It’s not a “no-trade” clause, only Kobe has that, but James did have to approve the trade. This paragraph form HoopsWorld goes to explain Singleton’s case, click the link for more:
“If a player is playing under a one-year contract and is traded, his Bird rights aren’t traded with him. In other words, if he is scheduled to be a Bird or Early-Bird free agent, after a trade he would instead enter free agency as a Non-Bird free agent. For this reason, players in this situation with one year contracts must consent to any trade.”
- Drew Gooden wasn’t at practice Tuesday, but he is in D.C. and attended today’s shoot-around (which I did not attend). The latest reports indicate that the Wizards might try buying out the last year of his $4.85 million contract so he can sign with a better team and so the Wiz can save money/cap space. Or the team could try trading Gooden, but doing so has it’s constraints, so it’s unlikely. Even so, Gooden still might be in uniform Wednesday against the Timberwolves. By the way, in March ’09, the Sacramento Kings bought-out Gooden and saved roughly $1.8 million.