The Washington Wizards wrap up their Detroit-plus-four-Western-Conference-teams road trip in Phoenix tonight. Having a 2-2 record against the Pistons, Blazers, Clippers and Jazz thus far is a nice accomplishment for this team. Losses in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City were far from abject, but each did display the same ills that have plagued the Wizards all season. Against a 13-19 Suns squad coming off a tough win over the Lakers in Phoenix on Sunday, the 7-24 Wizards have a fair chance to prove progression. The Suns are favored by six points. Today’s 3-on-3 features Michael Schwartz (@ValleyoftheSuns) of the ESPN TrueHoop Network blog Valley of the Suns, along with TAI’s Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis) and Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It). Three questions, three answers… Leggo.
#1) Is Steve Nash not asking for a trade actually a very smart move, in that he’s not hurting his value by mere words, and the Suns will ultimately deal him before the deadline? Or will he really play out his contract and then leave Phoenix (or stay)? Where does he go in either case?
ADAM McGINNIS: The Suns should trade Nash from a basketball personnel standpoint, but ownership appears set on retaining him for remainder of season. If teams are low-balling for Nash’s services, there is an argument for letting him play his contract out. Fans will come to see Nash play his last games in Phoenix and that financial gain could be worth more than taking on salary or a few second round draft picks. Even though the Free Steve Nash movement has sprouted up online, Nash has taken the classy route of not creating drama with trade demands. My prediction is he plays out his contract and then signs with a title contender like Bulls, Heat, Thunder or Lakers.
MICHAEL SCHWARTZ: Steve Nash not asking for a trade has nothing to do with leverage, he’s just legitimately a loyal guy who wants to try to build something in Phoenix even if it seems crazy to the rest of the world (and some Suns fans). I’ve always felt that if the Suns were well out of the playoff race in March that he might change his tune, but there are many complicating factors such as the fact that his contract is not extendable so he’d be a two-month rental, his age, and the lack of teams that need a starting point guard. If I had to put money on it I’d say he’s going to play out his contract and potentially even re-sign, with the presence of his kids in Phoenix and the Suns’ vaunted training staff no small issues. If he does go, Portland would be my guess since they’ve been after him for years, desperately need a point guard and have the kind of assets that could make a deal work.
The last game was played in Milwaukee, and this one was played in the friendly confines of the Verizon Center. The Bucks were missing three starters, and the Suns had a healthy roster at their disposal. The Wizards are a putrid 0-20 on the road, and they went into last night’s contest with 12-8 home record–including four straight wins at home. You get the point here, there were plenty of differences between last night’s game against Phoenix and Wednesday night’s game against Milwaukee. Still, it played out exactly the same.
In both games, the Wizards played flawless first quarter basketball, only to see their hard work come unraveled in each quarter after that, leading to a double digit loss.
The Wizards shot 53-percent in the first quarter, and they were mainly led by Nick Young (11 points) and Andray Blatche (10 points). John Wall did not do much damage scoring-wise (two points), but he managed to dish out a whopping nine assists, before he was subbed out for Kirk Hinrich with 3:49 left in the period.
Well, the Wizards certainly played better against the Suns than they did against Indiana last Friday. But this time, they simply lost to a better team. It’s another day, another loss … the Wizards’ fourth in a row with their record now standing at 2-5. One would hope that this doesn’t become routine, but that didn’t keep members of the media from groaning “feels like last year” as they made their way to the media room to wait for Flip Saunders’ press conference.
Of course, I wasn’t operating under an “official” media capacity last season, but I can imagine letting out a sigh, shrugging my shoulders, and wondering what to ask Saunders as I did on Sunday. But this isn’t like last year. There isn’t a sense that losing is inevitable. This team conveys a strong belief that everything will come together with time, health … and more trust on offense.
The Wizards started against Phoenix not necessarily lacking energy, but were plagued by defensive mismatch problems … a theme that’s not unique to this one game. While Fabricio Oberto concentrated on Amar’e Stoudemire, Brendan Haywood had to worry about Channing Frye and his three-point shooting, spreading the court ways. Frye finished 4-8 from deep.
Haywood seemed to have trouble moving his feet fast enough to cover all the offensive looks from the Suns. At times, the spinning and turning Haywood was doing on defense looked to be some sort of interpretive dance in the paint. The Wizards center was curiously limited to 11 and a half minutes in the first half, but finished the game as a rebounding (10) and shot blocking (5) presence in his 32 total minutes.
We were the first to make a move, so everybody’s following us (chuckles).
True, the Wizards were the first to strike when they landed Mike Miller and Randy Foye. But it’s hard to laugh, or continue to pridefully boast about the move, when the cream of the Eastern Conference crop keeps passing the Wizards by.
Let’s quickly go through what the top three teams in the East (Orlando, Cleveland and Boston), have done this off-season. Read more »
Mike Jones of the Washington Times reports that, according the league sources, Ernie Grunfeld has four players targeted near the center of his dart board: Rasho Nesterovic, Channing Frye, Jason Collins and Jamaal Magloire.
While none of these big men are the ‘sexy’ pick fans desire, each might be serviceable for the current amount of minutes Grunfeld is pigeon-holing the potential addition into. And each, according to Jones, might have to settle for the veteran’s minimum in the current economic environment.
Of course, with whispers of Nesterovic returning to Europe, I would not be surprised if he spurned the NBA to play for more money overseas. Nonetheless, Jones is usually spot-on with his reporting, so there’s a fair chance one of these guys will be joining the Wizards in the future. Let’s learn a little bit about each:
I was on a break outside the other day, catching some fresh Penn Quarter air, taking a stroll around Freedom Plaza, when this little kid came up to me, and said, “Hey Mister … don’t you know that the Wizards need another big man? Haywood, Jamison, Blatche, McGee, and McGuire aren’t going to cut it.”
“Easy lil’ fella,” I told him. “We’ll keep looking around to see if we can add someone else, but we feel comfortable about what we have currently and the depth of our ballclub.”
The kid then kicked me in the shin and ran away.
I suddenly woke up from my slumber and realized those weren’t my words, those were Ernie Grunfeld’s words. I had a mission …