- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 13, 2003

Other than an occasional off-the-record comment by Jerry Stackhouse, most of the Washington Wizards detested the way they were forced to play basketball last season but kept their feelings to themselves.

When they wanted to get out and run, then-coach Doug Collins preferred the team walk the ball up — often waiting for Michael Jordan to shoot.

That is why yesterday was so important to many of the young players who are participating in the team’s four-day minicamp at MCI Center.

“I love it,” second-year guard Juan Dixon said of coach Eddie Jordan’s offense. “It’s my type of game. A lot of movement, a lot of screens off the ball. Everybody gets the ball in the offense. You have to be able to handle the ball. All in all, I like what he’s doing.”

Jordan was head coach in Sacramento for 15 games of the 1996-97 season and the entire 1997-98 campaign, compiling a 33-64 record before joining New Jersey as an assistant. However, the low-key Jordan said his transition back to head coach has not been overwhelming.

“I’ve done a lot of that in my time,” Jordan said. “It’s a normal feeling. Right now we are teaching a lot. This is a point where we want to see what guys can do, what their skill level is. We are evaluating, but at the same time we are teaching.

Jordan’s motion offense likely will be more uptempo when the season begins, and his approach to the game — according to some players who are getting to know him — will be more conducive to communication between players and coach — something Kwame Brown said was non-existent under Collins.

No player took more of a verbal beating the last two seasons from both Collins and Michael Jordan than Brown, who has yet to live up to the billing that made him in 2001 the first high school player in league history drafted No.1.

Yesterday for the first time, Brown acknowledged that both he and Collins cursed each other during a game. He doesn’t expect that kind of antagonism to happen with Jordan because communication “with him doesn’t seem like it’s going to be a one-way street.

“You have a guy like Eddie, he’s a totally different style than Doug,” Brown added. “I haven’t spent much time with him but he’s a guy who lets you speak a little bit more. I think he wants you to voice your opinion so he can find out what works better for you and what helps the system.”

And this suits Brown perfectly.

“I feel more comfortable now voicing my opinion,” he said. “He doesn’t seem like he’s going to come crashing down on me once I say something he disagrees with. It’s going to be a situation where a player and coach can communicate in a respectful manner and the coach doesn’t try to step on anybody’s toes. Last year as a whole, guys didn’t even want to show up for work. Everybody felt disrespected, like they were backed into a corner.”

Later in the day, Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld met with free agent Speedy Claxton, one of the players the Wizards are considering adding to the roster at point guard. The Wizards have not given up on re-signing Tyronn Lue. However, Lue has been in contact with at least “six or seven other teams,” according to his agent, Andy Miller.

“We had a good meeting,” Grunfeld said of Claxton. “He came down to visit with us because he lives nearby in [Philadelphia]. So it was convenient for him.”

The Wizards also are reported to be interested in Antonio Daniels, Kenny Anderson and possibly Darrell Armstrong.

Meanwhile, top pick Jarvis Hayes, the No.10 player drafted overall, has not signed his contract. According to a source with knowledge of the situation, Jarvis, who will play for the Wizards in Boston’s Pro Summer League, will sign later this summer.


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