Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Jamison needed rest; he'll get it

Let’s not jump off of the bridge with the Wizards latest injury to Antawn Jamison. Sure, the diagnosis reported by the Washington Times of 2-8 weeks sounds dismal. But it’s not the end of the world. Plus, my sources are saying 2-4 weeks.

Even if Jamison is lost for an extended period of time don’t look for the Wizards to do much slumping. In fact, the loss of Jamison at this point in the season is ideal is some ways.

First, Eddie Jordan would be able to get valuable minutes to his second team. The Wizards have been on such a high horse that Jordan has been reluctant to upset chemistry. This has caused guard Donell Taylor and post players Andray Blatche and James Lang to see increasingly less minutes. With a lead in the East and two weeks to spare Jordan has a rare mid-season opportunity to gain maturity.

The next two weeks start out with tonight’s January closer at Toronto. Following tonight’s game the Wizards will be at home for 13 consecutive days, playing in just 4 games. Two games are against lesser opponents Seattle (17-28) and Portland (19-27). The other two are against San Antonio (32-14) and Los Angeles (27-18), two fairly decent teams.

Playing San Antonio and L.A. now is an advantage. Both teams will come to the Verizon Center heavily favored. If that’s the case then Agent 0 could have his best stretch of season. Gilbert Arenas thrives off adversity!

The on-court X-Factor won’t be the only advantage tilt. Verizon Center attendance is higher than it’s been in over 5 years. Last year the fans were like day old Ramen noodles that wouldn’t move unless the bowl was broken. It was almost like they didn’t understand the game.

This season, Arenas’ chef specials are exactly was D.C. likes. Fans aren’t just in the building for giggles and story-time anymore. The enjoy it, the feed off it, they’re loving it live!

The intensity in the Verizon Center is enough to alter ball games. The heavily biased atmosphere is also a calming agent when developing younger players.

In reality, counting the All-Star break the Wizards play just 6 games over the next 21 days. My math says that’s three weeks with few opportunities to suffer damage.

The team is evaluating Jamison today. They’ll evaluate swelling and pain before taking an MRI tomorrow morning.

Until the results come back on Saturday the Wizards won’t have an accurate timetable for Jamison’s return. It is what it is. You hope for the best and pray for the rest.

Most would figure the rest to be Arenas and company. Most would be going for the safe money. My bet is that Caron Butler will earn his All-Star spot over the next four games.

Friday, January 12, 2007

A Terrible, EARLy Call

Trading Earl Boykins was a bad move by the Nuggets. Not because Boykins is that good, rather, what they got in return doesn’t make there situation improve.

The Denver Nuggets pulled the trigger with the Milwaukee Bucks picking up guard Steve Blake. The former Terrapin, national champion, and bad pick by the Washington Wizards. In return for Blake the Bucks received Boykins, and Julius Hodge.

Julius Hodge may have been a great dump other than the fact that the Nuggets sent $700,000 to help pay the remainder of his 1.2 million dollar contract. $700,000! 1.2 million! Why was he getting that sort of money? He sat at the far end of the bench and his only highlight was getting socked in the baby sacks by Chris Paul in his final year at NC State.

Outside of the financial stupidity of this move is the fact that Steve Blake will be a back-up. Sure, Boykins wouldn’t have received the same amount of playing time once Carmelo Anthony returned from injury, but at least he’s a consistent scoring threat when Allen Iverson needs a breather. Boykins has scored over 20 points in 8 of the last 10 games. Steve Blake can’t provide that kind of scoring as a backup point guard.

I also don’t want to hear that Blake is a pure point guard that can play with Iverson and Anthony. Who cares? Iverson is better suited playing the point guard position because it systematically forces him to pass the ball instead of shooting every possession.

For the Bucks the move is very intelligent. You get a project player in Hodge plus the money to pay him making it a very cheap $500,000 option. Plus, you get a scorer that will keep you in the hunt while Michael Redd (knee) and Mo Williams (shoulder) recover from injuries that will sideline them for at least 3-4 weeks each.

Boykins also slides in under a 4.3 million dollar injury exemption created by the season ending injury to Bobby Simmons. Great business and playing transaction by the Bucks, while the Nuggets can only say that this deal keeps them from sliding into luxury tax territory.

What the Nuggets let go was a point guard that knew the system, and most importantly, knew his role. Boykins is a shoot first guard but he’s also a guy that could provide good offensive numbers off the pine. As it stands bench scoring will be left up to Blake (3.6 ppg this season), Eduardo Najera (5.3 career ppg), DeMarr Johnson (3.6 ppg), and Nene Hilario (6.8 ppg).

The future looks so much brighter now!

We’ll see how the move pans out for both sides. My guess is that one of these players is going to make his former team regret striking a deal to get him out of town. Let’s just hope its Boykins so that I can say I'm right.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

#1 Zero

When Wizards Team President Ernie Grunfeld signed an under-sized, free agent, shooting guard in 2003 he probably didn’t know that he would grow into one of the leagues most dominant players.

He couldn’t have seen a player whose points per game would increase nearly five points every year. He didn’t know that he had a community leader, league MVP, franchise player, and probable savior of professional basketball in D.C.

He didn’t know that he had Gilbert Arenas.

The things that Arenas has done have never been done in Wizards/Bullets history. His personality is infectious, talents are undeniable, and his greatness has yet to reach its full potential.

The NBA must be even more excited about the emergence of Gilbert Arenas. They have entered an era littered with a slew of under-25 stars that will carry the product for years to come. Dwight Howard, Amare Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Arenas will provide the league legitimacy it’s lacked since the first retirement of Michael Jordan.

If last seasons 29 points per game wasn’t evidence enough the month of December should awaken the world to the Arenas epidemic.

Grunfeld made a great argument, comparing the impact over numbers that Steve Nash had to win the MVP award last season. Nash averaged just 18 points and 9 assists last season. But without his presence the Suns would struggle to remain relevant in the top heavy Western conference. Such is the effect that Arenas has, but, he has the numbers to back up his claim.

At this point in the season Arenas averages 30.5 points per game, 4.6 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per game. Not to mention his new found defensive ability. Arenas is 5th in the league averaging 2.09 steals per game, almost two steals more than DeShawn Stevenson who was brought in during the off-season to improve team defense.

Arenas has followed through on his promise to dominate and lead by example on both ends of the court, but most of all, he’s showing that this IS the takeover year.

Who knows how much Arenas will grow. As far as I’m concerned if he doesn’t improve anymore he’s okay with me, but don’t count on that happening. Arenas is a workaholic. Late nights at the Verizon Center shooting baskets under the emergency lights have made him what he is…the best!

He’s the best free agent acquisition since Shaq went to the Lakers in the 96-97 season. He’s the best player to wear #0 in the history of the NBA (not counting Robert Parrish #00). When all is said and done he’ll be the best player, in any sport, to play professionally in Washington D.C.

Write that down too!