Archive for September 23rd, 2008

Eddie Jordan interview

Here’s Washington Wizards head coach Eddie Jordan today, speaking to local media:

On having the option picked up on his contract (yesterday):

“Ernie called me up to his office to talk about [training] camp, personnel and a few other things, and then he told me that they were going to pick up my option. It was a total shock. I’m very grateful to Ernie and to Mr. Pollin. My assistants and our players contributed tremendously to this happening. Now we’re preparing to go to training camp and that’s the only thing that’s on my mind. We’re in training camp mode. We went on a retreat last week, we’ve been in the office (this week), and we’ve been watching tape. We’re locked in to preparing this team, so my option was totally out of my realm of thinking.”

On last season:

“One of the things that went well was our leadership. Our leadership was impeccable; it was the engine that really drove the car for us. Caron [Butler] and Antawn [Jamison] are certainly at the top of that totem poll. Antonio Daniels was a big part of that. DeShawn [Stevenson] in his own right was a leader for us, and Darius [Songaila] also. We like the way that Brendan [Haywood] had a career year. Even though Caron and Antawn were All-Stars, I always said that DeShawn and Brendan were the unsung heroes for us because they were defensive anchors for us. They were there for us pretty much every game. [I’m proud of] the way we played, winning 43 games as opposed to 41 the year before, making a competitive series against Cleveland in the playoffs and the fact that we dealt with adversity.”

On Gilbert Arenas:

“He is a star, and he’s the straw that stirs the drink. I knew we weren’t going to have him 100 percent for training camp, and I didn’t want to go further than that. We knew he needed more rehab, more strengthening, more rehab during the training camp session. Now, our thinking and our preparation is for (the players that will be participating in) training camp, and we’re working to prepare this team to lay the foundation again.”

More on Gilbert Arenas:

“I just saw Gil today. I talked to him after his procedure. He feels very confident that having the procedure will enhance his rehab and get him back on the floor during his rehab as opposed to just staying in the training room. When he was on the floor at the end of the summer, [his knee] just bothered him a little bit. The procedure allowed him to clean out a little of the debris, so that will help his rehab and allow him to get back to us pain-free.”

On the team:

“We feel very confident in the players that we have and the way we played last year — the way we shared the ball and moved the ball, the defense and the way we made the playoffs. But certainly you need a Gilbert Arenas to get to where we want to go. We certainly want to win an NBA Championship.”

On the depth of the roster:

“I am comfortable with it. We are very comfortable in Antonio [Daniels] and DeShawn [Stevenson] and Dee Brown, who we signed and played in the summer league. We’ve always wanted a guard like Dee who can change the pace and quicken the pace defensively. He’s got some experience under him and he’s relatively young. He’s a tough, hard-nosed kid from Chicago, and we’re very excited about him being on our roster.”

On Nick Young:

“For him to average almost 7 points in 15 minutes is a promising foundation for us and for him. We know he is a dynamic and exciting scorer. We want him to be a better player defensively, understand (game situations), (improve) work ethic, maturing and all of that is going to take place. We’re very excited about Nick’s opportunity that lies in front of him.”

On Etan Thomas:

“[Having him back] improves our depth. We know Brendan [Haywood] had a career year last year. Our depth chart is solid with Etan being a back-up center. If there are any injuries or anything of that nature, we have a veteran guy who can step in.”

On Brendan Haywood:

“[I’m just looking for] subtle improvement — little things that would mean a lot for us. Certainly his approach and his intelligence are top-notch. He’s one of the most intelligent guys on the team and in the League. He talks on defense, he works on his body. He maintains his body to be big and strong. His defense has improved greatly. There are some subtle things, like maybe some more passing to cutters, screening and stuff you guys don’t really see in games. Overall his improvement was huge for us this year, and we continue to see him work on his body and on his game. He’s not a core scorer for us, but he knows when to be aggressive for us. Again, because of his intelligence he knows when he needs to pick up some slack. If Caron [Butler] is not on the floor, then we throw the ball to Brendan.”

Magic add two training camp players

The Orlando Sentinel (Brian Schmitz) reports: The Magic will take 16 players into training camp next week, adding small forward Jeremy Richardson and power forward-center Dwyane Jones to the roster… Richardson and Jones join point guard Mike Wilks, point guard Anthony Johnson and shooting guard Mikael Pietrus as the Magic’s new players. editor says: Unlike most training camp signings, both of these guys are on the radar of a bunch of teams and could wind up with a small deal eventually.

Nets have no need for Julius Hodge

Julius Hodge is a versatile player, but he’s primarily a shooting guard who can’t shoot. This presents a problem and is why he fell out of the league so quickly. His best days were probably his college days.

But, he’s in Nets training camp, and the only real opening the roster has is possibly at the third-string point guard spot, behind Devin Harris and Keyon Dooling. Though, since both of those guys are good players, unless someone gets hurt I can’t imagine the third stringer gets more than a few minutes per game at the most.

So, to try to make the Nets, Hodge may have to pretend to be a point guard. But while he has the ability to pretend to be one, he isn’t one, and isn’t really going to create from that position. And while he can slash, he probably isn’t going to penetrate past other point guards. Plus, he can be left open from outside.

He’s not a fit for the Nets and should find a team that can use a multi-talented shooting guard off the bench. Or, he should just try to star in Europe.

Wizards sign Juan Dixon

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has signed free agent guard Juan Dixon. Per team policy, terms of the contract were not released. But both local Washington papers had been reporting that the offer was a minimum salary deal and the contract wasn’t guaranteed.

“Juan is a proven NBA player and we like what he brings to our team,” said Grunfeld. “He is a tough, hard-nosed competitor who can score and his familiarity with our system is an added plus.”

Dixon (6-3, 165) was originally selected by Washington with the 17th overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft out of the University of Maryland, where he led the Terrapins to the NCAA title and captured Most Outstanding Player honors at the 2002 Final Four. During his first tenure with the Wizards, the Baltimore native averaged 8.2 points and 1.6 assists in 176 games over three seasons (2002-03 through 2004-05).

“I’m excited to return to the area and to resume my career with the Wizards,” said Dixon. “I’m looking forward to the start of training camp and I’m ready to step in and contribute wherever Coach Jordan and the team sees fit.”

The six-year veteran has seen action with the Wizards, Trail Blazers, Raptors and Pistons and holds NBA career averages of 8.9 points and 1.7 assists per game. Last season, Dixon averaged 5.0 points and 1.8 assists in 53 games between Detroit and Toronto.

The Wizards’ training camp roster now stands at 18 players. The team will hold camp from September 27-October 3 at the Siegel Center on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

Pacers hate Jamaal Tinsley

The Indianapolis Star (Mike Wells) reports: Jamaal Tinsley remains on the roster, but the Pacers have taken steps to distance themselves from the point guard. They’ve removed Tinsley’s nameplate from the locker he used at Conseco Fieldhouse and he is not expected to be at the team’s media day Monday. Jim O’Brien said Tinsley’s situation will not be a distraction. “I don’t see how it’s a distraction,” he said. “I’m just worried about the guys that have uniforms.” editor says: I think opening night for the Pacers at home, after introducing the players the team should place a giant Tinsley blow-up doll at halfcourt. Then, Larry Bird and the rest of the team’s front office staff can kick it. But seriously, I don’t get why the Pacers are handling Tinsley this way. Sure, he’s spent most of his time in Indiana getting injured, and making some mistakes. But when healthy he was pretty solid; worse than most starting point guards but certainly better than almost any PG who comes off a bench. Maybe he tried to rob Bird in the parking lot after a game or something.

Glancing at Pacers starters

The Indianapolis Star (Mike Wells) reports: Jim O’Brien said Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy, the two leading scorers last season, will start and that he’d be “shocked” if Troy Murphy didn’t. T.J. Ford and Jarrett Jack will battle to start at point guard, and Rasho Nesterovic, Jeff Foster and rookie Roy Hibbert will fight for minutes at center. “I think T.J. and Jarrett both have the qualities of a starter,” O’Brien said. “They’re both going to play huge minutes. Another thing is, Jarrett brings toughness and energy. He’s not limited to the point guard spot. He can also play two-guard.” editor says: If TJ Ford doesn’t start he’s probably going to jump out a window. In his mind, he surely must assume the starting role is his.  I’d expect he’d be the clear favorite, and Jack will have to do really special things in training camp and preseason to change that.

Marbury may be gone within days

New York Newsday (Alan Hahn) reports: It has been believed since Donnie Walsh took over the Knicks in April that Stephon Marbury’s tumultuous days as a Knick were numbered. Now the matter is days from being official, Newsday has learned. Several persons with knowledge of the situation have indicated that the Knicks are planning to part ways with Marbury by the end of the week. One caveat is the approval of Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan, who must sign off on yet another multimillion-dollar payoff for his NBA team. Marbury is in the final year of his contract, which is to pay him $21.9 million. The Knicks will likely place Marbury on waivers and, once he clears, begin negotiating a buyout. Marbury will then be free to sign with another team; the Miami Heat have a desperate need at point guard.

Basketball blog