I’ve taken a bunch of pictures while at summer league. The more the merrier is what I say. And I’ll have more to come soon, but the one below is my favorite so far. It was taken just after the Wizards played their second game against the Clippers. The photo is a little blurry because it was taken with more motion (from me and the subjects) than I’d planned for, but I think it turned out just fine. Notice the serious looks on the faces of Flip Saunders on the left and Sam Cassell to the barely right, as if “it’s just summer league.” And then notice how John Wall is just enjoying life.
After the Wizards’ second day of mini-camp, young JaVale McGee messed around a bit with old Sam Cassell for a couple rounds of one-on-one. Let’s check that real quick.
Otherwise, Epic Vale is working hard. And on Friday he was all tuckered out, needing to bend over when initially speaking with the media after the session. He even later Tweeted: “Man … tired ain’t the word … I’m tired as a house.”
Not sure what ‘tired as a house’ means. I imagine that the partied out house of a Miami Heat fan on a celebratory bender is pretty tired right now. Maybe McGee is that tired, except the basketball equivalent.
When speaking about JaVale this afternoon, Flip Saunders twice mentioned that he needs to work on his defensive rebounding. Seems like a pretty big emphasis. Last season, according to 82games.com, the Wizards team defensive rebound percentage was 65% when McGee was on the court. That shot up to 71.6% when he was off the court. So that can’t be good.
Saunders went on to say, “As much from a strength standpoint, going against main type centers, he’s not as strong as some of those guys so he gets pushed around. What happens is he gets in foul trouble so quick and that takes him out of his game. He’s going to have to learn to play at our level and be able to play as far as from the beginning.”
“Having been from Cleveland and everything we’ve gone through, you’d like to see your hometown do well, so I’m disappointed from that standpoint.”
Yep, ol’ Flip is from Cleveland. But you probably already knew that. The high school All-American and 1973 Ohio Class A Player of the Year averaged 32 points per game during his senior year at Cuyahoga Heights, a school located in the burbs of the Mistake By The Lake.
Actually, my bad. I shouldn’t make fun of Cleveland. Even though Cavs fans lined up by the miles to witness and laugh at the Wizards after the Arenas gun fiasco and the rest of the implosion (including gladly taking the Gentleman Jamison), I cannot laugh at them at this moment. I feel very, very bad for those guys. And with that I say, ‘Join me people of Cleveland, in your distaste for Lebron.’
One quick question … who’s now more indefensible, LeBron or DeShawn Stevenson?
While Ted Leonsis was getting all the attention today, and deservedly so, there’s also a team being built. Flip Saunders usually isn’t made available to the media before or after pre-draft workouts, so today’s press conference was a good chance to catch up with Saunders and get his thoughts on the process leading up to June 24th.
I asked Flip, with John Wall reportedly set to workout for the Wizards on June 17th, if they’ve scheduled Evan Turner or any other top prospect. So far, the Wizards have hosted more on-the-cusp players who might be available at 30 and 35 or go undrafted.
Saunders deferred to Milt Newton, vice president of player personnel, but later indicated that the Wizards have talked to Turner’s people. The coach also said the Wizards would probably have seven more days of pre-draft workouts with five or six guys each day.
On the process of trying to get players to come workout, Saunders said: Read more »
Most NBA coaches probably still get out on the court to shoot a couple buckets every now and then. Not to say they go out of their way, but there’s always time before or after a practice, or after working out NBA draft hopefuls. And some, a select few, might even try a behind-the-back, through-the-legs layup, which we wouldn’t mind seeing, even if they missed.
Flip Saunders, Cuyahoga Heights’ Finest, did just that after Wednesday’s Wizards pre-draft workout, something only 50% of the head coaches in the NBA Finals can do — well, I’m making an assumption based on Phil Jackson’s two hip replacement surgeries and his giant sideline chair.
Flip may struggle with trick shots, but he hasn’t lost the shooting touch that once made him Ohio’s Class-A High School Player of the Year and a pretty good player at the University of Minnesota. Let’s watch the coach in action …
Some are saying that John Wall in a Wizards uniform should mean the end of Gilbert Arena. They assume the two are incapable of co-existing.
Matt Moore of Pro Basketball Talk and Hardwood Paroxysm makes a solid argument using statistics. On PBT Moore cites Arenas’ high usage rate, and on HP he uses Synergy Sports to outline the types of solo offensive plays involving Arenas last season. Both pieces highlight valid concerns that a Wall-Arenas backcourt will not work because they both need the ball in their hands.
Moore also alludes that the Wizards’ locker room is likely still poisoned and assumes there’s little chance Arenas will emerge from his mess a man changed for the better … and that this would obviously be a bad situation to bring Wall into.
The Wizards lost in typical Wizards fashion on Friday against the Chicago Bulls. Through three quarters, they fought hard against a team with playoff urgency … well, actually, the Bulls never really looked like a playoff team. But still, it wasn’t too shabby for the Wiz to be down just 76-75 after three quarters to a team 14 better in the win column.
Then the fourth quarter came. Before it started, Washington had 19 assists to nine turnovers and out-scored Chicago 40-32 in the paint as well as 19-10 on second chance points.
But in the final period, the Wizards didn’t score until the 8:29 mark when Fabrico Oberto hit a couple free-throws, and only scored two points on a couple free-throws after the 4:26 mark. Overall, Washington only made two field-goals and were out-scored 19-12 by Chicago to close out the game 95-87.
The Wizards never really had a chance against the Utah Jazz Saturday night. The hope for victory was akin to a 15-seed wanting to beat a 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament, especially since both Al Thornton and Randy Foye didn’t play because of injury.
This team just doesn’t have the talent to compete right now. They are not tanking. They are out there with the desire to work together to win. That is, I don’t get the impression that guys are playing for themselves so much, unlike before the big trades.
The players are just trying to learn and Flip Saunders is just trying to teach. Speaking of, before the game Saunders said that he put in a new offense a couple days ago; an offense with the intent to get more cutting opportunities for perimeter players and to get the big men working closer to the basket.
“The offense we ran, the first unit we had out there played pretty well with it. We had a lot of open shots and moved the ball well, had a lot of assists,” said Saunders after his team went down 103-87 to Utah, dropping their record to 21-51. “We turned to our second unit, we have too many role players playing. Now some of those role players have to be thrust where they have to become main scorers and they’re not comfortable as far as doing that.”
Before tonight’s Wizards-Jazz game, Flip Saunders came out to talk to the media reminiscent of Johnny Cash. The coach was dressed to the nines in all black, well, until he put on his contrasting gray sport coat on for the game. One thing you can say, this season has certainly been a Ring of Fire for Saunders.
Since the last Wizards home game against Charlotte, and the Andray Blatche affair, Blatche, to the extent that I’ve noticed, has made more of an effort to operate closer to the basket on offense, something Coach Saunders has implored him to do since early January, at least. I asked Flip about this before the game.
“We instituted/kinda put in a new offense that would make it more conducive for some of our bigger players to stay more around the basket and try to give our perimeter people more cutting opportunities, taking pressure off Andray around the basket where there wouldn’t be as many trap type situations,” said the coach, also mentioning that this new(ish) offense was instituted two days ago. Read more »
Shaun Livingston has been through basketball hell, but the point guard just might be the godsend Flip Saunders has been searching the heavens for to lead his team.
The Wizards, as was pretty much expected, lost their third game in as many nights 109-95 to the Orlando Magic on Saturday, but Livingston broke out with his best game (most points with 18 and most assists with eight) since his career-changing knee injury in February 2007 .
Livingston has barely been with the Wizards two weeks and he appears more comfortable running Flip’s offense than anyone else has been all season.
“The biggest thing is he’s got a very high basketball I.Q. He seems to calm everybody down a little bit when he’s on the floor,” said Saunders. “And he’s got great size so when things break down he’s has the ability to back somebody down and get a shot off.”