- The Washington Times - Friday, April 28, 2006

Washington Wizards guard Jared Jeffries said he approaches games knowing this could be his last season with the team.

Jeffries will be a restricted free agent this summer, meaning the Wizards can match any offer he receives if they choose to. However, he’s not certain he will be in the team’s plans for the 2006-07 season.

“I think about that all the time, that this could be my last series here,” Jeffries said yesterday. “I love the city and I love the fans, and I love everything that I’ve been able to experience here. But these could be my last games in D.C., so I want to make sure I go out and play well every time.”

The Wizards did not offer Jeffries — the 11th pick out of Indiana in the 2002 draft — an extension at the beginning of the season. He knows the team will be budget-conscious this summer.

“It’s a situation where I want to be happy, bottom line,” Jeffries said.

“I want to go somewhere where they want me and I want them. Wherever that may be, here or somewhere else, that’s what I want.”

The front office is split on Jeffries, according to a team source. However, Jeffries has stepped his play up recently, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed, the source said.

If he does not return to the Wizards, Jeffries likely will be pursued by a number of teams in the Western Conference. In fact, Jeffries thinks his style of play “would fit well” with a team that “likes to run.”

Thomas playing catch up

Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said center Etan Thomas is not in the doghouse despite Thomas playing just seven minutes in Game 1 and not at all in Game 2.

Jordan named Thomas the starting center late in the season over Brendan Haywood. However, Thomas injured his lower back and had to miss the final three games of the regular season.

Since that time Haywood has taken back the job, and it doesn’t look as if Thomas will get it back during the playoffs.

“I’m ready to contribute whenever coach needs me,” Thomas said.

Jordan said missing the last three games of the regular season put Thomas behind.

“He’s not being benched and he’s not playing awful,” Jordan said. “We’ll try to get Etan back out there but right now the rhythm of the game is ahead of him as far as him coming back. But he’ll get called on and I expect him to be ready.”

Bring on the bling

At some point during the playoffs, Wizards guard Antonio Daniels said he is going to bring in the championship ring he won with San Antonio in 1999.

“Yup. I want them to take a look at it,” said Daniels, the only player on the team with a title. “Believe me, it will motivate guys.”

Guessing game

Jordan hopes a rocking Verizon Center will fire up his team the same way it did last year against Chicago. The Wizards evened that series last year at 2-2 in Washington, part of a four-game streak against the Bulls to win the series.

But Jordan does not know what to expect from his team, much less the crowd.

“I really don’t know what to expect,” Jordan said. “I know that the energy is going to be here.”



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