- The Washington Times - Monday, November 1, 2004

It never has been Juan Dixon’s nature to flinch when things don’t go his way, so it comes as little surprise that the Washington Wizards backup point guard wasn’t visibly upset by the team’s refusal to pick up the fourth-year option on his contract.

“Hey, man, it’s a business,” said Dixon, who will become a restricted free agent at the end of the season. “I just have to play well and play strong throughout the season and hopefully things will work out for me. I’m just glad that I’m here and I’m going to help this team win. If we win, everything will take care of itself.”

Dixon, a 6-foot-2 guard the Wizards selected with the 17th overall pick in the 2002 draft, averaged 9.4 points in 72 games last season. He is coming off a solid preseason, where he averaged 9.9 points, 2.3 assists and 1.75 steals.

Dixon yesterday talked about making the most of his opportunities when he gets in games. His first chance will come Wednesday in the season opener at Memphis, where the Wizards will be without suspended starters Gilbert Arenas and Larry Hughes, and reserves Steve Blake (ankle surgery) and Anthony Peeler (suspension).

“Wednesday is an opportunity for me,” said Dixon, who also was left unprotected by the Wizards in last summer’s expansion draft. “I have to play well when I’m in a situation to play big minutes.”

Dixon will have to battle for playing time this season. Along with Arenas and Hughes, Peeler and Dixon’s University of Maryland teammates, Blake and Laron Profit, will vie for playing time.

The Wizards on Saturday exercised the fourth-year option on forward Jared Jeffries, which will pay him approximately $2.3million next season. Prior to the start of next season — depending, of course, on the status of the league’s expiring collective bargaining agreement — the Wizards will have the option of offering a contract extension to the 6-11 forward.

“I love being around here,” said Jeffries, who last season appeared in all 82 games and averaged 5.7 points and 5.2 rebounds. “I love what we’ve put together here as a team. To know that I have another year after that to be a part of that is exciting. And anytime you have that vote of confidence behind you, it makes you feel good.”

Wizards Brendan Haywood and Kwame Brown both got the same vote of confidence from the Wizards last year when the team picked up their option at the start of the season. However, as of last night it didn’t appear as if either player, both represented by Arn Tellem, was close to coming to terms on a multi-year contract.

“Right now we’re just not on the same page,” Haywood said. “I think the offers have continued to get better but they haven’t been market value.”

Selected by Cleveland with the 20th pick in 2001 and then traded to Orlando before being shipped to the Wizards for Profit later in 2001, Haywood averaged 7.0 points and 5.0 rebounds in 77 games last season.

Brown, the top pick in that draft, said deal or no deal he is looking forward to the upcoming season. Brown is nursing a broken right foot that will keep him out of the lineup at least until the middle of the month.

“Of course it would mean security if you get it done,” Brown said. “But if I don’t get it I’m still going to go out and play hard.”

Brown averaged career highs in points (10.9) and rebounds (7.4) last year.

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