NewsBullet: Wizards scheduled to introduce Singleton and Mack

 

Today at 2:30 PM Ernie Grunfeld and Flip Saunders will introduce two of the Wizards 2011 draft picks Chris Singleton (18th overall) and Shelvin Mack (34th overall) at the Verizon Center.

Wizards hit the Gee-play button

NBAE

Alonzo Gee

Earlier today Wizards announced that they have resigned guard/forward Alonzo Gee. The Wizards had originally signed Gee on March 7 from the NBADL and he appeared in 11-games in which he averaged more than 16 minutes and a little over 7 points per game. The Wizards had signed Gee to a second 10-day contract but ultimately Gee elected to sign a contract that let him remain with the San Antonio Spurs for the remainder of the season. The Spurs, who recently signed Danny Green, elected to waive Alonzo Gee.

Unfortunately, Gee’s resigning meant that the Wizards had to create room on the roster and so Ernie Grunfeld also announced that the team had waived reserve Guard Lester Hudson. Hudson, who made a few exciting plays in the Summer League and during the preseason, appeared in six games with the Wizards. During that stretch he logged 26 minutes of play in which he contributed two points, six assists and one rebound.

Wizards Ernie Grunfeld should pick up Shaun Livingston for the rest of the season

Source: NBA.com

June 24, 2004 was likely one of the happiest days in the life of Shaun Livingston. On that night, he was the 4th overall pick, and the first PG selected in the NBA draft. The 6’7” pass first, shoot second true point guard with the 7′ wingspan had some comparing him with Magic Johnson. In 2007, during arguably his best season, Livingston suffered a terrible knee dislocation that sidetracked a potentially very promising career. Three years and three teams later, Livingston is on the second 10-day contract with the Washington Wizards.

Once it became clear that Mike James was not going to remain with the team, it became clear that the Wizards would need to pick up another point guard. The Wizards were fortunate enough to pick up Livingston, who had played earlier in the season with Oklahoma City.

Livingston gives this current roster its second true point guard – the other being Earl Boykins. While Boykins seems to be best suited providing energy off the bench. He does tend to be a shoot first, pass second point guard. In addition to Livingston’s passing ability, his height is also an asset. He is able to post up and comfortably shoot over smaller guards. When he has gotten a chance to play he has played well. His unique combination of skills has defenses fits as he has gotten into the lane creating easier scoring opportunities for his teammates.

The Wizards have 20 games remaining in this season, they should have seen enough from Livingston to know that warrants a longer look – picking him up for the remainder of the season. While Flip Saunders wants to win as many games as he can, it is also important to develop his young players in the process. Shaun Livingston should be an important component in the team’s short and long-term development.

While it has been three years since his injury, Shaun Livingston is still recovering. He has played in less than 40 NBA games since his rehabilitation. If Livingston can continue to work himself back into peak condition the Wizards may have gotten very lucky. It is very likely that Livingston will never fully attain what was his full potential. However, at 24 years of age he is still a young guy with upside potential. The fact is that he can be very effective even if he does not get fully back to where he seemed to be going as a player.

He has demonstrated with limited minutes that he can still create plays for his teammates. And at this stage in the season, it is much more important to allow him to work himself into shape – while on the floor. It does not help this team’s development by playing Earl Boykins for extended minutes. Flip Saunders and Ernie Grunfeld both know what Boykins can provide the team and more to the point he is not a part of the long-term future of this team. They should give Livingston as much time as his body can handle.

If he continues to improve, the Wizards have potentially found a guy, in Livingston, who can be their second string point guard. If they are really lucky, he could develop into a guy who can play in the back-court with Gilbert Arenas. It is important though that the Wizards let that process begin now. The first step in that process is picking up Livingston’s contract for the remainder of the year and then giving him an extended look on the court.

I will admit that given all this kid has gone through in his young career, I would like to see his career get back on track. I would like nothing better than for this kid to develop into an all-star caliber player. And if Livingston is on the verge of getting some semblance of his career back on track, I hope the Wizards are smart enough to spot that now and take a chance – an inexpensive chance at that – on a guy who had NBA draft lottery talent. At the very least, he appears to be the best point guard they currently have on their roster.

The Wizards had no time for Mike James

I caught the Mike James interview on 106.7 The Fan’s The LaVar Arrington Show with Chad Dukes. During the conversation, I couldn’t help but wonder what issue (if any) did Flip Saunders have with Mike James? I’ve heard and/or read people who have spent time with Mike James mention that he is a honest and straight forward individual and I have no reason to believe anything else. So in this scenario, I am going to take his comments on face value.

On a few occasions this season he has pointed out that he worked extremely hard in preparation for the season and could not figure out why he wasn’t playing. He reiterated those thoughts during the interview. James seemed to indicate that Flip Saunders, or someone on his staff, had a preconceived notion of him as a player and he was not afforded the opportunity to disprove those notions. Any time that there is a coaching change, it is likely that a coach has inherited a player (or players) that does not fit his/her style of play. Depending on the contract situation, that player (or players) is usually traded or released as quickly as possible. It is a possibility that this situation with James was as simple as that. Maybe Flip, who is notoriously demanding of his point guards, did not feel that James’ style of play over his career fit the way he wanted his point guard to play. And maybe he thought that Mike James was too set in his ways to adapt to his system of play (old dog, new tricks cliché).

If James did not fit, then it would seem to have made more sense for Ernie Grunfeld to trade James during the off-season, or at least much earlier in the season – ideally prior to his hand injury. But after he returned from his injury, and it was apparent that he was going to be with the team for a while, it makes you scratch your head that he couldn’t manage to play for a few minutes per game. Particularly during games where he might have provided a better match-up off the bench then Boykins.

For those of us who aren’t in the Wizards locker room and practices, it would appear that James’ inability to get off the bench would seem to indicate that there was some larger issue just beyond what we can see. While Mike James’ days with the Wizards are over, I would love to know why Flip Saunders felt that his team was better with James on the bench than with him getting at least a few minutes per game.

Wizards go bargain hunting…NBA style

We are just a few hours before NBA free agency gets started, and it is that time of year when sports talk typically turns to the changes that Ernie Grunfeld should make to Wizards. Well as many know, the Wizards have their own free agents to worry about – Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Roger Mason, Jr. After signing Gil and Antawn (and most likely losing Roger), the Wiz will not have a significant amount of money to spend on free agents, nor will they have a lot of roster space. They currently have 10 players under contract, not including Gilbert, Antawn, Roger and

The Wiz need someone in the paint who can rebound, block shots and occasionally score. And while Brendon Haywood had his best season last year and the Wiz just drafted JaVale McGee, it is important to look for help here – particularly since no one knows yet how Etan Thomas will play if/when he fully recovers. And because of the limited amount of money that the team is expected to have available, it is important to look at potential players that will not break the bank. Below is a list of potential free agents that appear to best fit this criteria.

NAME

TEAM

08 SALARY

POINTS*

REBOUNDS*

BLOCKS*

FG%*

FT%*

Primoz Brezec

Raptors

$2,750,000

7.6

4.1

.41

.500

.706

P.J. Brown

Celtics

$226,650

9.1

7.7

1.02

.460

.794

Theo Ratliff

Pistons

$199,452

7.9

6.1

2.63

.497

.711

Adonal Foyle

Magic

$1,219,590

4.1

4.8

1.64

.476

.499

DeSagana Diop

Nets

$2,146,000

2.1

3.9

1.19

.433

.517

Jamaal Magloire

Mavericks

$231,183

8.6

7.2

1.03

.479

.65

es*Career averages

  • Primoz Brezec, who is 28 years old and 7-1 and 252 lbs, could have the best long term potential. He is not much of a shot blocker, but he has showed the ability (in the 2004/2005 and 2005/2006 seasons), to score in the double-digits and pull down around 6 rebounds a game.
  • P.J. Brown has been a solid player for a number of years and at 6-11 and 239 lbs, he is not afraid to bang with anyone. However, at 38 years old, you may only get 1 more season out of him.
  • Theo Ratliff, at 35 years old and 6-10 and 235 lbs, is intriguing. Ratliff has been the best shot blocker on the list. If he is currently healthy, he could provide the Wiz with an excellent, defensive-oriented backup center for a season or two allowing McGee some time to develop.
  • Adonal Foyle (6-10 and 270 lbs) fits into the same category as Theo Ratliff, while not as proficient in blocking shots. And while he is two years younger (33 years old) and more expensive, I would tend to lean towards Theo Ratliff instead.
  • DeSagana Diop (7-0 and 280 lbs), much like Primoz Brezec, is an interesting choice because of his age (26 years old). He played on a team that runs (Dallas) and one that runs a similar offense (New Jersey), so you would think that he would have an easier time fitting in with the Wizards. And since he is still young, you have a player who can continue to develop and legitimately challenge for the starting position. Diop, like Brezec, are at the high-end of the pay scale for this list of players, but still in the range of bargain shopping.
  • Jamaal Magloire (6-11 and 265 lbs) at 30 years old still has a number of good years in him, but is also a former all-star performer at the center position. However, the style of play that best suits him is not the style that the Wizards play.

Considering this list, the two players that most interest me are Theo Ratliff and DeSagana Diop – for largely two completely different reasons. Theo was a very good shot-blocking center, but may be well past his prime. If he can be effective in limited minutes, Ratliff could be an effective defensive presence off the bench. He would be a short-term solution, buying the Wiz a year or two for some of the younger guys to develop. Diop, on the other hand, is better suited to compete with Haywood for the starting position – which could have a negative effect on Haywood. He is also young enough that he could be a potential fit for a few years to come. Given that the Wizards just drafted JaVale McGee, I don’t think picking up a young guy like Diop is the best move. However, the relatively low salaries of Diop, Ratliff and the other players mentioned above means that there are some potential bargains available to the Wiz if they are looking for a backup center to grab rebounds, block a couple of shots and score a few points in the paint.