Thursday, October 27, 2005

Anxious moments will arise in the next few days for some of the Washington Wizards’ hopefuls.

All-Stars like Gilbert Arenas — who missed practice yesterday to have his injured eye examined — and Antawn Jamison — who appears to be close to recovered from a shoulder injury that occurred last week — have no concern over their spots on the team. Their undeniable talents have secured them multimillion-dollar deals.

But for players like Billy Thomas, Donnell Taylor, Hiram Fuller and Awvee Storey, the outlook is completely different.

The Wizards have until 6 p.m. Monday to cut their roster from 17 to 15 for the start of the regular season. This season there is no injured list. Instead, teams will be permitted to dress 12 players for a game and send two to their NBDL affiliate in Roanoke.

Coach Eddie Jordan could make a decision as soon as this weekend. For now, he is giving no indication what he will do.

However, he understands the anxious moments the young players are undoubtedly experiencing.

“I’m sure it weighs on their minds when they are at home or in the hotel or off the floor,” Jordan said. “But if they have given 100 percent that is all they can ask for. I was in that predicament before myself. If you know you gave it 100 percent you just let the chips fall where they may.”

With one preseason game remaining tomorrow in Indianapolis, Storey and Thomas appear to be the long shots even though Storey, who appeared in nine games with New Jersey last season, has been perhaps the most impressive of the free agents.

Thomas, 29, appeared in 25 games for the Nets last season. With the Wizards, he has made just seven of 29 field goals in six games and averaged 4.8 points. He knows his chances are slim, but his previous NBA experience leaves him convinced he belongs.

“I’m prepared for whatever might happen,” said Thomas, who was in the Wizards’ camp last summer, then went to the CBA before being signed by the Nets. “I’m more prepared for whatever decision Coach makes. I’m a realist, and I understand the situation.”

The situation is that the Wizards, despite the loss of Larry Hughes, are much deeper this year. In fact, Jordan is looking at a rotation that will go 10, perhaps even 11 players deep.

Jordan has yet to announce who will start opposite Jamison at one forward position and who will be Arenas’ backcourt partner for the season opener Wednesday.

“They’ve got some tough decisions to make,” Taylor said. “Hopefully I’ve made an impression on them. We’ll find out soon.”

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