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Wizards Offseason

I think Rick Bucher needs to think harder about this:

ernie grunfeld(verizon center): Ric, can you tell me if Caron Butler can be a full-time "2" allowing me to move Jamison to the "3" which in turn allows me to sign the strong, athletic big forward we desperately need in Chris Wilcox provided that our salary cap is in good shape this summer.

Ric Bucher: Good to know GMs are coming to this chat for advice. The way the game is played now, Caron and 'Tawn as the 2-3 is, as Silvio would say, "a no-go. Can't be accommodated." With the defensive rules, you need two perimeter dribble penetrators. Caron, Jamison and Arenas would leave you with one. That would be a killer no matter who the PF is.

The current starting lineup is Arenas, Butler, Jamison, plus Jared Jeffries and Brendan Haywood. Presumably, we're talking about starting Wilcox instead of Jeffries. So Bucher's theory makes sense if and only if Jeffries is a perimeter dribble penetrator, which he most certainly is not. As it stands, the Wizards starting lineup more-or-less involves three small forwards and no real 2 or 4. Since Jeffries isn't very good, it seems to me that if a legitimate power forward is gettable it would make sense to make the switch and use Jeffries as a flexible bench player.

April 7, 2006 | Permalink

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Well, given your understanding, the original question suffers the same failing. Wilcox for Jeffries might be an improvement overall. Or you are not as familiar with Wilcox's failings as you are of Jefrries (Hey a 26-24 night will do that...)

Posted by: Pooh | Apr 7, 2006 4:08:27 PM

Actually, Etan Thomas has replaced Heywood as a starter, but otherwise, yeah. I'll say this for Jamison: he's been playing "tall" lately, like a 4 as much as or more than a 3. But yeah, a legit 4 with Arenas, Butler and Jamison on the wings would rock.

Of course, a real center would be even better. So would a magic horse that could fly me anywhere in the world in the space of an evening.

Posted by: Jim Henley | Apr 7, 2006 5:09:37 PM

If this is really Ernie Grunfeld expressing interest about a player not on his team, isn't it tampering? Didn't Phil Jackson got fined for praising Chris Bosh, not even openly saying he would sign him. Smells fishy.

Posted by: cedichou | Apr 7, 2006 5:32:03 PM

If this is really Ernie Grunfeld expressing interest about a player not on his team, isn't it tampering?

Um, I don't think the real Ernie is asking Rick Bucher questions on an ESPN.com chat...

Posted by: Al | Apr 7, 2006 5:45:30 PM

I don't really follow the Wizards that much, but are you sure that Butler would hold his own defensively as a full time 2?.

Posted by: Carlos | Apr 7, 2006 5:47:43 PM

On topic: isn't it possible Bucher was just saying that, if the Wizards want to be anything more than a mediocre team, then Butler/Jamison at 2/3 is a "no-go"? I guess I interpretted Bucher's comment to be that if the 'Zards really wanted to move toward a championship team then they shouldn't have that combo at those positions. That's not to say you couldn't upgrade from Jefferies to Wilcox and get a few games better - but a few games better isn't getting the 'Zards to the NBA Finals.

I guess I'm not sure whether Jamison is a better 4 than a 3. Which position would you rather have Jamison at?

Posted by: Al | Apr 7, 2006 5:50:21 PM

I guess I'm not sure whether Jamison is a better 4 than a 3. Which position would you rather have Jamison at?

Therein lies the rub. He's a classic, classic tweener. He can't guard 4's, and his ballhandling is egregious for a 3. He could probably get away with playing the 4 with a big time (or at least solid shot blocking/d-boarding) center (and if you say Heywood, you lose). I think his best spot is probably energy+scoring 6th man.

Posted by: Pooh | Apr 7, 2006 5:59:34 PM

Butler can handle two fine. Jefferies contract is up and he is probably leaving, to be replaced by Andray Blatche, although Jefferies has been playing better lately. And AB will probably replace Jamison when his contract is up. More than a power forward (Jamison is gets 10 reb/game) they need a defensive center. Pau Gasol, Shaq, Yao Ming and that guy in Cleveland all eat the Wizards alive. The Wizards play the Pistons well because the pistons don't have a scoring center.

Posted by: wcc@CRIMES.COM | Apr 7, 2006 6:08:12 PM

perimeter dribble penetrator

Sounds dirty.

Posted by: scarshapedstar | Apr 7, 2006 7:01:41 PM

I guess the other thing you could do if you added Wilcox would be to start him with Daniels, Arenas, Jamison, and Haywood/Thomas and use Butler as a flexible sixth man. Obviously, what the team could really use is a proper big man, but that's essentially true of every middling NBA team (except the puzzling Cavs).

Posted by: Matthew Yglesias | Apr 8, 2006 12:47:50 AM

Apropos of nothing, Petey's MVP ballot:

1) Dirk Nowitzki
2) LeBron James
3) Chauncey Billups
4) Steve Nash
5) Vince Carter

Kobe's having a nice season, but a 43 win Lakers team just doesn't deserve an MVP candidate. Wade is obviously the missing name in my list, but I can't see ranking him above Nash or Carter. If the ballot went to six players, Wade would be next.

Posted by: Petey | Apr 8, 2006 2:23:07 AM

Apropos of nothing, Petey's Top x Deep Rosters:

Best roster 1 through 9: Dallas
Best roster 1 through 7: San Antonio
Best roster 1 through 5: Detroit
Best roster 1 through 3: New Jersey
Best roster 1 through 2: Miami
Best roster 1 through 1: Cleveland

Posted by: Petey | Apr 8, 2006 2:28:40 AM

1. I don't understand what's puzzling about the Cavs. They might be the most explicable playoff-bound team.
2. Petey, LeBron should be higher than Nowitizki, and Detroit higher than San Antonio. And I'm still not crazy about Billups, though I admit I can't come up with a justification for that.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Apr 8, 2006 10:11:37 AM

Petey, doesn't "MVP: Nowitzki" commit you to "Best roster 1 through 1: Dallas"? Or is Nowitzki somehow deeper than LeBron? I suppose if depth is merely a measure of vertical distance, that could be right, but I don't think that's what you mean.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Apr 8, 2006 12:44:03 PM

Petey,
Try putting Wince on the Lakers instead of Kobe and see how many games they win. I'd say 30 would be very generous. 20 would be more likely, with Carter sitting at home crying by the All-Star break.

Posted by: Steve | Apr 8, 2006 12:55:39 PM

"Petey, doesn't "MVP: Nowitzki" commit you to "Best roster 1 through 1: Dallas"?"

Nah. The MVP honor is part individual and part team.

Most years, MVP should go to the best player on the team with the best record. But the Pistons' success being so team based throws off the equation this year.

Chauncey ain't the third best player in the association, even though I'd put him third on my MVP ballot. Kobe and Iverson are both better players than Chauncey, but attention must be paid to the Pistons' record.

If LBJ had better teammates and thus a better record, he'd be the easy choice for MVP.

Posted by: Petey | Apr 8, 2006 2:45:19 PM

And speaking of Dirk, this is one of the entertaining and puzzling things I've read in the past couple of weeks. It's dated the day before April Fools Day, and updated on AFD itself, so I can't figure out if it's real or if it's a jape.

Real or not, the mp3 discussed and linked to from the article is worth checking out.

Posted by: Petey | Apr 8, 2006 2:55:11 PM

I realize that Wilcox has been turning in some sick lines in Seattle, but there's the thing you need to realize about Chris -- and I say this as a Clips season ticket holder:

The guy is never where he should be on a basketball court.

His defense is atrocious; he can't recognize a double-team to save his life; he can't shoot from beyond six feet; he can't defend in the low block (even with his size), and he doesn't close out on guys when he needs to.

We wanted to like him. We really did. But the guy's basketball I.Q. (excuse me for resorting to that term) ranks somewhere between Bango The Buck's and Chuck Nevitt's.

Posted by: Clipper Blog | Apr 8, 2006 4:56:57 PM

"The guy is never where he should be on a basketball court. His defense is atrocious; he can't recognize a double-team to save his life; he can't shoot from beyond six feet; he can't defend in the low block (even with his size), and he doesn't close out on guys when he needs to."

Sounds to me like you're perfectly describing Sam Dalembert...

Posted by: Petey | Apr 8, 2006 5:25:49 PM

Chris Wilcox attended my high school a couple years after I graduated, but I think I saw him once when I came back to visit. He was talking with one of my former teachers (a fairly short woman) in the hall, and I was thinking, "This is some kind of joke. There are probably stilts under that guy's jeans." There isn't really any message to this story, except that NBA big men are very tall.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Apr 8, 2006 5:51:40 PM

Do you think basketball IQ can be improved? The guy is still young; perhaps his IQ will improve as he gets more experience...

BTW - it's amazing how important and underappreciated basketball IQ is. Take, for example, Jason Collins. Here's a big man who can't jump over a phone book, can't rebound well, doesn't block shots, and doesn't really have much of an offensive game. But he has a tremendous basketball IQ. This allows him to play great positional defense and be a great "glue" player. If he had half the physical gifts Wilcox has, he'd be an all-star...

Posted by: Al | Apr 8, 2006 8:48:54 PM

ranks somewhere between Bango The Buck's and Chuck Nevitt's.

Ouch.

Apropo of Petey, Pooh's top 5 MVP candidates:

1) Chauncey
2) Nash
3) Tie, LBJ, Dirk
5) D-Wade

Though Simmons makes an excellent case for Sammy C. I saw what Cassel meant to the wolves, first hand, 2 years ago. Considering how many NBA games come down to the last 4-6 minutes, having that guy with the poise and balls to get it done is almost immeasurable.

(Incidentally, this illustrates a key difference between statistical analysis in basketball and baseball. A shot 4 mintues into the 1st quarter is qualitatively different than that same shot with 2 minutes left in a tie game.)

Posted by: Pooh | Apr 8, 2006 10:16:18 PM

"Sounds to me like you're perfectly describing Sam Dalembert..."

I bash Dalembert and he responds with his best game in months against the Bulls. Sammy was all over every loose ball.

And FWIW, with Webber out with a back strain, the Sixers started a twin towers frontcourt of Dalembert and Hunter and the team responded with a monster defensive game.

Webber is a guy with a very high basketball IQ, but his appalling lack of athleticism at this point of his career means he's an absolute cancer on the defensive end. He simply can't move his feet quickly enough to provide any help defense around the basket.

And to compound the problem, the inexplicable Mo Cheeks is enamored of going long stretches with lineups of Iverson, 3 swingmen, and Webber as the center. If you want to understand why the Sixers are the worst defensive team in the league, lineups with Webber as the last line of defense is the answer.

Posted by: Petey | Apr 9, 2006 11:38:20 AM

"BTW - it's amazing how important and underappreciated basketball IQ is. Take, for example, Jason Collins. Here's a big man who can't jump over a phone book, can't rebound well, doesn't block shots, and doesn't really have much of an offensive game. But he has a tremendous basketball IQ. This allows him to play great positional defense and be a great "glue" player."

Nothing but lies, Al. Collins can indeed jump over a phone book. Well, at least he jump over a phone book to a modestly sized city like Teaneck. He might have trouble with a Manhattan phone book.

Posted by: Petey | Apr 9, 2006 11:44:59 AM

"Though Simmons makes an excellent case for Sammy C. I saw what Cassel meant to the wolves, first hand, 2 years ago. Considering how many NBA games come down to the last 4-6 minutes, having that guy with the poise and balls to get it done is almost immeasurable."

Cassell ain't the league MVP, but I otherwise agree with you about his worth.

Imagine if Miami had Sam Cassell instead of Gary Payton. The Heat would run away with the championship.

The first Rockets title winning squad must've been a fun team to play on. With Cassell, Horry, Kenny Smith, and Mad Max for kicks, that team had no shortage of poise or balls.

Posted by: Petey | Apr 9, 2006 11:52:48 AM

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