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By then, if the Wizards are stuck because of a scaled-down Arenas, either Haywood or Butler could be inclined to seek a top-tier team. They have seen what Roger Mason has done for the Spurs this season. And Mason's change of venue might have resulted in a trip to the NBA Finals if not for the season-ending injury to Manu Ginobili.

Avery Johnson is the other available coach whose name was being dropped in connection to the Wizards. His constant prodding and emphasis on defense grew old with the Mavericks, just as it possibly would with Arenas.

Saunders is the safer choice of the two. That is not to say he is an exemplary choice. That judgment will not be made until the Wizards are back in the playoffs and at full strength. The last time the Wizards met those conditions was in 2006, which made the ouster of Jordan all the more unsettling this season.

Jordan had no more chance than Saunders would have if he is missing several essential pieces. Ed Tapscott had no chance either.

There was no rescuing a team that was reduced to starting Dee Brown at point guard in 11 games early in the season. Remember the personable Brown? He ended up playing in Israel after being released by the Wizards and then the Suns.

Abe Pollin, Ernie Grunfeld and the Wizards certainly deserve a break from their injury-induced misery.

Is Saunders a start in that direction?

Only if Arenas returns to who he once was.