- The Washington Times - Friday, October 6, 2006

RICHMOND — Another day at training camp, another day without Darius Songaila.

For the third straight day, the Wizards were without their costliest ($23 million) free-agent acquisition. Songaila missed both sessions yesterday at Siegel Center nursing a pinched nerve in his lower back, and he has yet to take the court.

“I don’t know when I’m going to be back, but we’re not going to rush it,” the 6-foot-9 forward/center said. “I want to be out there, and it’s real hard to just sit and watch, but what can you do?”

Songaila, a member of the Lithuanian national team, hurt his back during last month’s FIBA World Championships as the squad prepared to face the United States.

Fortunately for the Wizards, Songaila knows coach Eddie Jordan’s system, having played in it in two seasons with Sacramento (2003-05), which ran the same. But Songaila is unable to do much more than ride a stationary bike and has lost a lot of conditioning.

Jordan is not concerned — yet.

“I’m looking at guys like Andray Blatche. I’m looking at guys like Michael Ruffin. I’m looking at the guys that are here. I’m thinking let guys like Andray get some reps and see what he looks like because maybe he’s a guy who can help us.”

Blatche improves

Although Blatche looked great at times during the summer league, the talk regarding the second-year player has been more tempered lately.

Forward Antawn Jamison cautioned that the competition in the summer doesn’t include “guys named Shaquille O’Neal and Kevin Garnett.”

The 20-year-old Blatche, who missed training camp as a rookie after being shot in an attempted car jacking, is going through his first training camp, a fact that is not lost on the coach.

“There has been a lot of improvement but he’s still young,” Jordan said. “This is his first training camp, so he still has a little bit of a free ticket to break down in some places both mentally an emotionally. But he’s getting through it pretty well. I’m rooting for him, I really am.”

Not making a deal

Because he is the longest-tenured owner in the league, Abe Pollin is often asked if he is ready to sell the team, and yesterday was no different.

Pollin, headed into his 42nd season as the team’s owner, said yesterday he has no intentions of putting the Wizards up for sale.

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