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The Wizards have hit a tipping point this season. Bit by bit, their talent pool has been negotiated down: Arenas for Daniels for the shell of Daniels, Mason for Juan Dixon, Haywood for the Poet and a raw rookie, a Blatche with prospects for a Blatche with issues.

And injuries have robbed the Wizards of their development. Two seasons ago at the All-Star cutoff date, the Wizards had the best record in the conference and the expectation that they would be involved in a challenging playoff race with the Pistons.

They lost that precious opportunity, plus the prospect of growth, after injuries felled Jamison, Butler and Arenas. They lost a similar opportunity with Arenas sidelined most of last season.

The development of a team is facilitated best by a deep playoff run. When the Cavaliers eliminated the Wizards in convincing fashion in Game 6 last spring, they appeared to have benefited from their playoff experience the previous year. They silenced the hostile crowd and shut down a gimpy Butler, who had tormented them in Game 5.

Difficult as it may be to accept, these Wizards may have hit their zenith with the six-game elimination of the Bulls in the playoffs in 2005.

They have been a big tease ever since then - no fault of theirs - and now they do not have the capacity to be even that.