- The Washington Times - Monday, May 16, 2005

Happy endings don’t matter in the NBA.

All that matters is the bottom line, and the bottom line tells Steve Blake and Juan Dixon one or both won’t be a member of the Washington Wizards next season.

Dixon and Blake, a pair of undersized guards who helped lead the University of Maryland to the NCAA championship in 2002, continued their fairy-tale experience as teammates with the Washington Wizards.

However, both will be free agents this summer, and both know there are few minutes to be had behind the starting tandem of Gilbert Arenas and Larry Hughes, another free agent the Wizards likely will re-sign.

While Blake and Dixon love playing in Washington and have enjoyed the adulation from the fans here, the reality that it might be time to move on has crossed their minds.

“I’m going to look everywhere,” said Blake, who averaged 5.3 points and 2.3 assists in two seasons. “I’m going to try to find a situation for myself that is going to benefit me, try to find a team where I know I can be successful and win games and go from here.”

Foot and ankle injuries limited Blake to just 44 games this season after appearing in 75 as a rookie. Wizards coach Eddie Jordan hoped Blake would play substantial minutes this season after a productive summer.

Because Blake is a restricted free agent, the Wizards can match any offer he receives.

Dixon, on the other hand, is an unrestricted free agent who had more opportunities to impress potential suitors, and he didn’t disappoint when he got them.

In three seasons Dixon averaged 8.2 points and 1.6 assists a game. He appeared in 64 games this season and averaged 8.0 points and 1.8 assists.

A fan favorite like Blake, Dixon saved his best for the playoffs. He scored a career-high 35 points in Game 4 of Washington’s first-round series against Chicago.

Dixon got a taste of the business side of the NBA last summer when the Wizards left him unprotected for the expansion draft. He has no lingering bad feelings.

However, Dixon knows there isn’t much playing time available behind Arenas and Hughes.

“Those are two All-Stars, and I’ve learned a lot from those two guys the last couple of years,” said Dixon, who was selected by the Wizards with the 17th pick overall in 2002. “I understand why my minutes have been inconsistent. Those guys can log big minutes. They’re young, they’re active and they’re athletic. They’re great players. Hopefully, wherever I go, if it’s here or wherever, I want to play consistent minutes because I really think I can help someone win games.”

Like the rest of the players, Dixon and Blake are doing exit interviews this week. Dixon said yesterday Jordan and president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld have expressed an interest in keeping him here.

But if he has played his last game with the Wizards, then he’s OK with that, too.

“I understand that it’s business,” said Dixon, who lives about 10 minutes away from Blake in Maryland. “I’m preparing myself for it, so whatever happens, happens. I’m just looking forward to playing basketball next year.”

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