- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 21, 2007

When it comes to the Washington Wizards, to quote comedian Flip Wilson’s alter ego, Geraldine, “What you see is what you get.”

In all likelihood today’s NBA trade deadline will come and go, and the Wizards (30-21) will look exactly the way they did yesterday.

“Obviously I’ve made some calls to get some information and to be in the loop as much as possible,” Wizards president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld said yesterday. “But I like this team. I think this team is capable of competing with anyone, and I’m looking forward to the second half of the season.

“Now, having said that, if I think the right opportunity comes around that can help our team, then it’s something that I’ll look at. But more than likely this is going to be the team that we have.”

It wasn’t long ago Wizards coach Eddie Jordan was lamenting the team’s lack of depth. But that was before forward Darius Songaila, who missed the first three months of the season after back surgery, returned to action and before backup center/forward Michael Ruffin recovered from a badly sprained foot that cost him 37 games. And Jordan’s complaints also came before 20-year-old forward Andray Blatche — the team’s leading rebounder in three of the last four games — started playing with greater levels of confidence and maturity.

The Wizards enter tonight’s game against Sacramento at Verizon Center in search of their third straight win before embarking on a three-game road trip tomorrow. They remain in first place in the Southeast Division despite playing the last seven games without injured starter Antawn Jamison.

To that end, unless a blockbuster deal raises its head, Jordan is comfortable playing the remaining 31 games of the season with the current roster.

“Not at all,” Jordan said when asked whether the Wizards needed to make a trade. “I think we’re finally seeing our people come back healthy. And once Antawn comes back we’re really going to have the kind of depth that we’ve been talking about. I say let’s give it a shot with what we have. I really like our roster. I really do.”

The Wizards haven’t made a trade at the deadline since Feb. 2, 2001, when they traded forwards Juwan Howard and Obinna Ekezie and center Calvin Booth to Dallas in exchange for forwards Christian Laettner and Loy Vaught, center Etan Thomas and guards Hubert Davis and Courtney Alexander.

Since that time the Wizards have reacquired Booth.

Thomas is the player whose name has been mentioned in trade talks most often. However, the fact he has three years remaining on a deal that will pay him more than $20 million and also includes a 15 to 20 percent trade kicker makes it less likely he will be dealt.

And if the Wizards don’t make a trade, few could fault them.

Despite a spate of injuries, the Wizards have road wins over teams like Phoenix, Detroit (whom they also beat at Verizon Center) and the Los Angeles Lakers. They are 20-7 at home with a 106-97 victory over Dallas on Dec. 4 ranking among the top highlights at Verizon Center.

“I think we’re positioned very well with the second-best record in the East,” Grunfeld said. “We’re starting to get healthy. Antawn should be back shortly, and I think we’ve got all of our positions covered. We’ve got additional depth in the frontcourt, and we’ve shown that we can beat anybody in the league when we play up to our abilities. I think we feel good about where we are, and I think we can still get better as the season goes along.”

Note — Thomas said yesterday he and Brendan Haywood are finished feuding. The two have had three fights over the last two seasons, the last resulting in a two-game suspension for Thomas that ended Tuesday.

“We have an understanding through different channels that we have to put it aside. We don’t have to be best friends, but we can definitely work together. And the thing is the team needs both of us. I think we’re a great tandem. Some days he’s going to play more. Some days I’m going to play more. It’s a good option to have basketball-wise. I think we’ll be fine. Teammates are like brothers, and sometimes brothers have disagreements.”


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