- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Seen and heard last night at New Orleans Arena:

NOT THINKING ABOUT IT — With the trade deadline looming today at 3 p.m., Christian Laettner, the one-time starter who has all but disappeared from the rotation in recent days although his name is being bandied about most in the rumor mill, says he has no problem if the Washington Wizards are looking to move him.

“You don’t sit around and wonder about it,” Laettner said before the game. “You can’t live your life like that. If it’s going to happen it’s going to happen.”

Laettner has one more year on his contract at $6.2 million and there is some thought in the Wizards organization that they might be better off holding onto him and letting the 12-year veteran’s pact expire in the summer of 2005.

Laettner has not been particularly happy with his lack of playing time since he returned after being suspended last month for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

“I haven’t been involved; who knows why,” Laettner said. “[Coach] Eddie [Jordan] said something to be about it but nothing has happened since. So I don’t know why I’m not playing. I’d like to be playing more. That’s all I can say about that.”

MISSING HUGHES — It was thought that the tradeoff of regaining Jerry Stackhouse and Gilbert Arenas would outweigh losing Larry Hughes (broken wrist) for at least the next four weeks.

But the Wizards have been absolutely horrible in the two games they had played without Hughes before last night. They lost to Philadelphia by 25 in the last game before the All-Star break, and laid an egg in their first game back by losing to Houston on Tuesday by 25.

Also, they scored at least 100 points or more in the last six games they played with Hughes. In the two games without him, they have scored 88 and 81.

“I did not anticipate it making as much of a difference in the way we competed, in the way we score,” Jordan said. “I thought with Gilbert and Stack we’d be replacing one for two. I’m not being critical of those two but I really can’t explain this.”

John N. Mitchell

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