The Washington Times - August 5, 2009, 01:11PM

I caught up with Antawn Jamison a bit ago to see how the Captain is doing, and get his thoughts on his team’s schedule, which was just released yesterday.

Jamison reported a complete recovery to his right ankle, which earlier this summer had surgery to remove bone spurs, and he said he and his teammates are more anxious than ever to get going on the 2009-10 season.


Excerpts from the conversation follow:


What’s your take on the schedule?

     AJ: It’s pretty good. The schedule’s not that bad. We don’t have any real long stretches on the road, which is pretty good. Everything’s kinda spread out. We’ve got some early measuring sticks. We’re going to be going on the road at Dallas, at Atlanta — both teams that have been playoff teams the last few years. It’s a good challenge for us.

     Most importantly, though, we need to find a way to stop these early slides we go on to start seasons. So, we want to get off to a good start. If we could get two road wins right off the bat, then come home for [New Jersey], that’d be big.


The Nov. 3 Cleveland date pops out in my opinion, what do you think? Exciting matchup with the chance to renue that rivalry, or is it a bit overblown?

     AJ: I don’t think that matchup will ever be overblown. They know how much it means to us to get a win there, especially after what we went through last year. I like that it’s early in the year. We have them twice early, and Miami three times early. Those are two teams that it’d be nice to start out with some wins against so we can win the series, so there’s gonna be a nice buzz about Verizon Center early.


Have you talked to any of your teammates recently? What’s the buzz now that the schedule’s out?

     AJ: Everybody’s anxious to get going. I talked to Mike Miller, and he’s ready. I know Brendan’s really working in the gym, like 24-7. From what I’ve seen, DeShawn is ready to have a big year, I’ve been working hard. A lot of guys are doing the proper things to make sure we’re healthy.


Is your ankle back to where it was?

     AJ: My ankle’s fine. Everything is fine. I’m to the point, where I don’t even ice it anymore. It’s definitely 100 percent, and I’ve been working hard like I’m 100 percent, just getting back into basketball shape. I’ll probably be back up in D.C. about the first of September, so I can get in some pickup games with the guys, then we’ll head to camp end of the month.


I know you were in Vegas for some of the summer league action. Was there anyone on your team that stood out or surprised you?

     AJ: I wouldn’t say anybody surprised me. Some guys did some good things. You know what you’re going to get from Nick [Young] and Andray [Blatch], Dom [McGuire], JaVale [McGee] and [Javaris] Crittenton. I like what Dom does, and Nick looked good at times, but there was still a lot of ups and downs from those guys. JaVale kinda turned it on the last few games. So, we’ll see.

     One thing I will say, I am excited about Mike Miller, Randy Foye, Oberto. The thing I like about our team, is that this year, we’ve got a very deep team and now. We’re going to have guys coming off the bench without missing a beat, which is something we really haven’t had here in a while. I’ve talked to Coach [Flip Saunders], and one thing he keeps talking about is this eight-man rotation, so I expect it to be a veteran group of guys we can count on. So, it’s going to be nice after the last few years where we really didn’t have a lot of veteran depth.


The one real question mark with the starting lineup is shooting guard, correct?

     AJ: Yeah, that other guard spot, we’ll have to see how that shakes out. The way I look at it, it’s DeShawn’s job, and guys are going to challenge him for it. But the good thing is, we’ve got guys that can compete, can play multiple positions and help us in a lot of ways. That position, the decision will be up to the coaches, so we’ll see how it unfolds once we get to training camp.


It’s hard to believe training camp is less than two months away, isn’t it?

     AJ: Yeah it is! The summer has gone by too fast. I said when the season ended, get some rest then start working, because we’re gonna be back at it before you know it. And for me, it’s good that it’s going so fast, because it means I can get this bad taste out of my mouth that much quicker.


— Mike Jones

twitter: @sptswrtrjones