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Wittman working new pieces into Wizards puzzle

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Randy Wittman stood on the sideline of the Wizards' practice court watching his reworked roster come together. With 22 games left in this lockout-shortened season and the team out of playoff contention, the process of building for next season can begin.

With Nene replacing JaVale McGee at center, and complementary pieces in Edwin Ubiles and Brian Cook in place of Nick Young, Washington's coach knows it's going to be a bit of a juggling act.

"We've got three new players that are trying to learn a whole new system, all three of them being from different systems," Wittman said.

He compares the roster shakeup to taking over for Flip Saunders, who was fired Jan. 24. His plan then, as it is now, is to simplify the offense.

"I don't want the new guys out there 'thinking' what they're supposed to do, I want them to go out there and play," Wittman said.

He plans to play Nene and Kevin Seraphin together in spots and believes it will open up the offense since Nene can play power forward and center.

"I know Nene. He's been in the league 10 years," Wittman said. "Seeing him in practice, getting to know his likes and dislikes, that's always important. But I'm going to throw him out there. He can swim."

When asked about Nene's ability to get out and run, Wittman joked, "I told him the altitude's not as high here, so his lungs ought to be pretty good."

With the ability to use Nene at two positions, and Seraphin showing significant improvement in recent weeks, Wittman plans to shelve Andray Blatche, who has looked out of shape and out of place on the court since his March 3 return from a calf injury that kept him out five weeks.

"We thought we could try to play him into shape once he got back," Wittman said. "After looking at it, it's unfair for me to put him in that position. We're going to not play him for a while and get him into a program where he can go after it from a conditioning standpoint to get himself in shape."

Wittman gave no timetable for Blatche's return but said the team had enough bodies.

The new-look Wizards held their first full practice Tuesday. John Wall seems to approve of the changes.

"I think it will be good to have that low post presence," the point guard said of Nene. "I think he can do a great job. We've just got to get him adjusted to the offense."

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