- The Washington Times - Monday, June 30, 2003

Steve Blake lacks certain basics to be an NBA-caliber point guard, starting with quickness, strength and shooting skill.

Other than that, Blake is the sentimental hometown favorite looking to be a fitting accessory to the Jordan Era, Part Deux.

This superficial inspection is not intended to temper the weepy sentiment on Fun Street.

The masses usually broke out in tears at the sight of Juan Dixon tearing off his warm-ups to report into a game last season. It was a curious response to a spot-up shooter who threatened to put a hole in the hardwood with his labor-intensive dribbling of the ball.

A trade involving Lonny Baxter or Chris Wilcox is possibly in the offing. At this pace, the Wizards could advance to the NCAA tournament next March. They should have at least 20 bubble-sparing victories by then.

The mood is bound to improve one of these months, assuming Kwame Brown has not been dispatched elsewhere to be an All-Star.

Some NBA observers still hold the trades involving Chris Webber and Rasheed Wallace against the Wizards, despite knowing what they know about each clown. The criticism with the Ben Wallace trade is fair enough.

The history alone should preclude the Wizards from moving Brown.

Yet Brown’s name, predictably enough, surfaced in a trade rumor on draft night. He should be accustomed to it by now. Brown, in only two seasons, has been nearly traded to each of the other 28 teams in the NBA.

He remains the object of a lot of the blame, misplaced though it is. It was not his decision to add two more guards to the roster: the one shooter and the one question mark.

Brown is the future of the franchise, if he embraces the challenge. An able point guard would help the process. There is not one on the roster at the moment, and nothing against Tyronn Lue, who is either staying or going, not sure which. Lue looks best as a backup, although he looked better and better as a starter with Larry Hughes around last season.

Hughes, who quit on the team late in the season, is still on the roster, hard as that is to stomach. The team’s backcourt is replete with a stomach-turning mix. There are too many one-dimensional types, and no reason to have them all.

Jerry Stackhouse has elected to stay with the Wizards, which is a hopeful development if his psyche is fully recovered. If he merely is returning to the fold to hoist up 25 shots a game next season, the Wizards are destined to be at one with the dreaded F-bomb again.

All draft-induced giddiness aside, the Wizards are obligated to develop more than a cursory interest in the low post next season. That means sticking with Brown, Etan Thomas and even the ulcer-inducing Brendan Haywood. This aspect of the game has to be stressed now that the old Jordan is gone.

You know how it was with the old Jordan. Whenever his outside shot was not dropping, it somehow was the fault of the post players.

This is not to excuse Haywood’s hands, if you can call them that. He catches about one out of every two passes directed to him, which just goes to show that you can’t teach hands or height.

Haywood is one of the two hand-impaired players on the roster, engaged in a too-close-to-call struggle in that regard with Jahidi White.

Their bad hands go with the bad heads.

Ernie Grunfeld is the latest person being encouraged to answer Abe Pollin’s SOS. As an executive, Grunfeld has two appearances in the NBA Finals in New York and a mess in Milwaukee. Pollin is in no position to hold the latter against Grunfeld.

Grunfeld’s first assignment, if he accepts it, is to land a point guard to go with Stackhouse and Brown.

His second is to buy a bar of soap to wash out the mouths of the insensitive.

Judging by how the team has been portrayed in the national media since the departure of the old Jordan, the Wizards were the only players in the NBA who exercised their free-speech rights on such a primitive level last season.

It has been stunning to learn that professional athletes sometimes have potty-mouths. Doug Collins has contributed to the impression. It is hoped he is working through the issue with a competent therapist. Collins has the time and the going-away money.

Washington has the mess left by him and the old Jordan.

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