With Gilbert Arenas out of the mix until at least December, the majority of the floor general duties will likely fall on the shoulders of 12th year veteran Antonio Daniels.
A reliable backup for much of his career, Daniels proved last year he could run the show, starting a career-high 63 games and notching career highs in assists (4.8 a game) and steals (2.8) while averaging 8.4 points.
I caught up with A.D. earlier today for a quick Q&A. Excerpts follow:
What was your reaction to the news of Gil having to have another surgery this week?
A.D.: I spoke to [Gilbert] a few days ago and it seemed like he was in good spirits. I feel like he’s doing the best thing. There’s life after basketball and you have to think about that. When that time comes he wants to be able to walk and hold his daughter, or hold his son. It’s better to get this taken care of now. And we as teammates have to be there, not only to take care of business, but also to support him and encourage him because it’s hard not being able to do what he loves. So we have to be here for him.
Gil said that even before the third surgery he was going to miss training camp and wasn’t expecting to play until January. Was that a surprise to you?
A.D.: I don’t really know. I’m not really educated enough on microfracture surgery and how long it takes, so if he had told me that he was gonna miss training camp, I’d just figure it was a precautionary move and it’s an extra two weeks to rest and give it more time to heal.
Being that the Wizards have been through this before now, and you’ve shown that you’re capable of running the show as a starter, do you all feel more comfortable now opposed to when this first happened two years ago?
A.D.: I believe guys are more comfortable this time around opposed to two years ago, having been through this [last year]. But that being said, we are a much better team with Gil on the floor and a much deeper team with me coming off the bench, doing what I’ve been doing my whole career.
How are you doing physically? When the season ended you were planning on having your wrist surgically repaired.
A.D.: I’m feeling great. I actually didn’t get anything done to the wrist. After getting a second opinion, I decided not to do anything. And after being told repeatedly, ‘Don’t do anything to it, don’t get anything done,’ I didn’t. … Just resting it has allowed it to heal and I’m feeling good. I’ve been playing a lot with the guys down here [in San Antonio], a lot of the Spurs guys, and I’m ready to go.
Daniels and the Wizards report for training camp on Saturday, Oct. 27, at VCU in Richmond. Team president Ernie Grunfeld and coach Eddie Jordan will hold a pre-training camp press conference this Tuesday and the players will be available for media day Friday at Verizon Center.
— Mike Jones