[This building is being rebuilt, Washington, D.C. -- photo: K. Weidie
The Washington Wizards preach patience, but internally, they are desperate. The rebuild has not gone as planned. They still can’t seem to adequately develop draftees who aren’t shoe-ins (i.e., those not named Bradley Beal). If they don’t make a move now, their core either could be set for next season, or teetering on relatively drastic change with the expiring contracts of Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor potentially coming into play this summer or before the next trade deadline.
Do the Wizards need to make a deal by 3 pm on Thursday? No, not at all. Why rush the rebuild when lottery chances are once again at stake? Could Team President Ernie Grunfeld still roll up his sleeves to expose some tricks? Indeed (Omar Little voice).
So who’s out there?
Well, we all know Josh Smith is available. But reports on top of reports on top of roast beef sandwiches indicate that the Wizards are now “coolin’” on a move for Smith, which means that the package they’re willing to offer for him is probably not as competitive as offers from Milwaukee or Brooklyn, for instance. I’m not so hot on Smith myself — with him “thinking” that he’s a max contract player and with Smith essentially being his agency’s only marquee player (also the agency of Javaris Crittenton, FWIW). Smith is not a max type player, at least not with his poor attitude. Although, colleague John Townsend informs me that Smith’s cumulative WARP (Wins Above Replacement Player, an advanced stat) over the past several seasons is very good. So, yea…
That’s right… the reaction to the Wizards losing to the Pacers 109-96 on Wednesday night and another video rendition of “The Wizards Said WHAT?” all rolled into one. Enjoy.
Danny Granger was methodical to an aesthetically pleasing degree. His best work came in the third quarter when he scored seven of his 20 points. Granger read Chris Singleton’s defense, turned down the screen from his teammate, and nailed a 3-pointer that put the Pacers up 67-63 with 7:21 left. The game never got closer than that. Going 8-for-12 on field goals with five rebounds, two assists and zero turnovers in 27 minutes, it was a rather chill night for Danny.
John Wall seems like he’s doing more to help the Wizards just “play basketball” while the clock ticks, and he’s not so much taking actions that would aid efforts to win. And while we don’t relish continuing to pile on Mr. Wall’s struggles, between his seeming refusal to attempt to finish at the rim, him feverishly shaking his head in frustration going into a late third quarter timeout, and his robotic blandness in the post-game session with the media, this is not as engaging of a John Wall as we’ve seen in the past, in any manner. Then again, his Wizards aren’t competitive in too many engagements these days either. So how much do we blame the 21-year old?
[NOTE: This is a late, RETRO-active post RE: Wizards vs. Pacers last Thursday. But good news, reads JUST LIKE WIZARDS LOSS TO HAWKS on Saturday night. But it's okay. At this point, they're just games. At least that's what they feel like... robotic, fabricated games. The DC Council -- After each Wizards game: setting the scene, rating the starters, assessing the bench, providing the analysis, and catching anything that you may have missed. Unlike the real DC Council, everything here is over the table. Click here for cumulative DC Council 3-star ratings over the course of the season. Game 46 contributors: Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis), Rashad Mobley(@Rashad20), and Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It).]
There are two prevalent visiting locker room atmospheres that I have encountered while covering Washington Wizards home games this season. The team is either distraught due to losing to the lowly Wizards, Charlotte is an example, or the opposing squad is in a professional, low-key mood after picking up a business like win. The Lakers and Knicks games come to mind.
After Indiana Pacers 113-96 shellacking of Wizards last Tuesday night, I witnessed a new hopeful and joyous environment. Pacers’ players were exchanging jovial banter, with Dahntay Jones leading most of the jester activity. After starting the season 17-27 under former coach Jim O’Brien, and then going 9-3 under new coach Frank Vogel (8-3 after beating the Wizards), you could sense the game was fun for them again. Contributing to the happiness was a completely balanced effort from their starters and bench (nicknamed the Goon Squad) in the blowout win with all 12 active players impressively scoring.
Vogel, who was an advanced scout with the Wizards in 2006-07, has changed their style of play, rotation and attitude. The players are buying into the belief that they are a good team and the fresh approach has produced success. Go listen to Vogel’s passionate talk after his team’s victory over Portland a few week backs to get a better sense of his philosophy.
The odds were definitely stacked against the Indiana Pacers prior to last night’s game against the Washington Wizards. The night before in Indiana, the Pacers led the Boston Celtics for three quarters before Ray Allen and Marquis Daniels stepped up in the fourth and led their team to victory. On top of being demoralized by that late loss and having to deal with the fatigue that goes with playing the second game of a back-to-back on the road, the Pacers were also in the midst of a six-game road losing streak which spanned the entire month of December.
Despite the stacked deck, Indiana played well enough to stay in the game for three quarters once again. But in the end, the Wizards were deeper and more athletic.
After the game, the Pacers locker room looked completely dejected. You’re probably saying to yourself, ‘Well damn, a post-loss locker room is always dejected, that’s how it should be,’ and you are right. But the level of dejection and depression I saw in that Pacers locker room was enough to suck the Christmas/New Year’s spirit out of anyone.
Danny Granger (15 points, nine rebounds and two steals) sat in front of his locker with both of his legs in water, and he twice rebuffed the media’s request to talk to him (but finally agreed to talk 15 minutes later — after I left, of course), and barely paid attention when assistant coach Walter McCarty tried to offer words of encouragement. Tyler Hansbrough sat at his locker room with the same dumbfounded look, and T.J. Ford (eight points and three assists) just kept looking at the final stat sheet and shaking his head. But no player was more dejected than former Georgetown Hoyas center Roy Hibbert.
How about we talk about some basketball for a change? I mean, that is why we all are here, right? Seems like nothing but bad, non-basketball court related Wizards news to talk about lately. Well, aside from the impending Ted Leonsis takeover. But let’s get back on the court and talk some roundball!
Oh wait … the Wizards are in the midst of a 13-game losing streak, the worst in franchise history and the third time such a streak has occurred.
Caron will have his work cut out for him in trying to guard Danny Granger tonight. And the best way to combat a guy averaging 23 points per game (tied for 16th in the NBA)? Attack, attack, and attack him on offense.
Granger has been mad lately. He evidently stormed off without talking to the media after the Pacers lost to the Nuggets on Tuesday. The next night, he came back and scored 21 points on 7-18 from the field in win against the Knicks.
But things still aren’t all that great for last year’s Most Improved Player. He’s been struggling with an injury to his right heel (bone bruise), and some say he hasn’t been able to get good lift on his jumper … this is evident by his 40.3% from the field and a True Shooting Percentage (TS%) of .534 in four games this season.
Caron Butler, as we know, isn’t faring much better on offense. He’s shooting 39.6% from the field (.473 TS%). He missed the Wizards’ home opener against the Nets (and most of the previous game in Atlanta) because of a bruised knee-cap, but his struggles aren’t believed to be of a physical derivation.
So what’s the deal with Tuff Juice? Why has he been getting caught “watching the show,” as he says?
I’m a huge Antawn Jamison fan. He’s a classy dude, I’ve nicknamed him ‘The Gentlemen’ (hasn’t caught on), and the women folk say he’s got eyebrows for days.
Jamison is the current patriarchal cornerstone of the franchise. This year’s team MVP? Unquestionably. He possesses the never-quit attitude that should be infecting the locker room via leadership by example … Jamison is quite the opposite of past clubhouse cancers, like Christian Laettner.
But sometimes, everyone needs to be questioned, Jamison being no exception.
1) What’s with the defense? 2) Will Antawn be flexible in his future role with the team?