- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 7, 2006

At some point during today’s shootaround or perhaps even later during the day, Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan is going to have an answer for the latest question facing him.

Who does he start in place of the injured Jared Jeffries tonight against Boston?

“He’s very valuable, very versatile,” Jordan said of Jeffries, who will miss the next few games with a strained left calf. “I looked at some lineups, and I have a pretty good idea of what I’m going to do.”

The good news: Jordan has options.

The last time Jeffries missed a game with an injury Jordan started Awvee Storey against Orlando. The result was a 94-82 home win against the Magic that lifted the Wizards (30-28) back to .500 for the first time in more than two months.

The 6-foot-6 Arizona State product worked out with the first unit yesterday. But Jordan did not guarantee that Storey, who last appeared in a game on Feb. 25 in a 110-89 rout of the woeful New York Knicks, would start tonight. But since the Wizards beat Orlando, a game in which Storey had four points and four rebounds in 13 minutes, Storey has played in just two games.

“I’m just going to be ready if the coach tells me he needs me,” Storey said. “I’ve just been trying to stay ready so when Coach calls me I can go out and be productive.”

Jordan could opt to go with Antonio Daniels, who clearly has found his niche since the team bought out Chucky Atkins’ contract in January. He also didn’t rule out the possibility of starting improving rookie Donell Taylor.

Jordan also has the option of moving forward Caron Butler to shooting guard — a position he has played for both Miami and the Los Angles Lakers — and inserting reserve forward Michael Ruffin in the lineup alongside Brendan Haywood and Antawn Jamison.

Jordan opted to go with Storey the last time mostly because he didn’t want his players getting used to new roles.

“Really, the matches will dictate what we do,” Jordan said.

Whatever Jordan decides to do, the Wizards will need to respond well to the change, because the season has reached a crucial point for teams battling for playoff spots.

That’s why the Wizards need to dispose of the seemingly lottery-bound Celtics (24-35) tonight at Verizon Center and then quickly focus their energies on trying to end their 14-game losing streak against Miami

“I’m not even thinking about Miami,” Daniels said. “Miami is not important. I’m thinking about Boston. The way I see it, we’re in the playoffs right now, fighting for positioning. That’s why we can’t afford to think about Miami. The focus has to be on every game and our next game is against Boston.”

Note — The Wizards signed guard Billy Thomas to a second 10-day contract yesterday. Signed to his first 10-day deal on Feb. 24, Thomas spent six games on the team’s inactive list. At the end of this contract the Wizards must decide if they will sign him for the rest of the season.

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