Friday, May 4, 2007

MAO of the Week 5-4

Like terrible traffic, sticker shock and Pierre L'enfant's random placement of logic-defying circles in the middle of intersections, looking forward to the offseason is a Washington tradition. It is during these calm and serene times that the stress and consequences of actual game play is ignored and our teams are either gloriously rebuilt, or in the joyous process of gloriously rebuilding. With the acquisition of a new draft pick or a crop of new free agents, the optimism shines brightly in the minds of our loyal fanbase. Washington Wizards head coach Eddie Jordan, an Archbishop Carol high-school graduate, is no different, and based on a recent interview with the Washington Examiner, we see him as the perfect recipient of our coveted Manny Acta Optimist (MAO) of the Week.

Jordan, known for his avant-garde lineups and occasional defensive-mindedness, offered this to the Wizard faithful in lieu of a challenging 2007 off-season:

“We want to get better and we want to get better as a coaching staff,” Jordan
said. “So I don’t look at the complaints. We’ve got a good offseason ahead of us.
Indeed an offseason of note remains for the Wizards who have several notable free agents including Jarvis Hayes, Calvin Booth, Michael Ruffin, Roger Mason Jr., and Andray Blatche. Recent squabbles between Jordan and Brendan Haywood pose more locker room questions, and the appeasement of Gilbert Arenas, who may opt out of his contract next summer if he doesn't enjoy the direction of the team, is another concern. That is why it is nice to hear some confidence from the team's floor general.

Of course whether or not this offseason is "good" is up to player-personnell guru Ernie Grunfeld, he of the Kwame-for-Caron swindle two seasons ago and the brokering of minimal fundage to Deshawn Stevenson in 2006. Could Grunfeld be concocting another massive offseason for Wizards fans to rejoice in as if they were rejoicing over the Redskins acquisitions? Grunfeld has already committed to bringing the seven foot Ukrainian Oleksiy Pecherov over from Europe, as well as Vladimeer Veermenko, another large European forward prospect. Both are teeming with talent and mystery, like most European forwards. We here at the DCO applaud Grunfeld, and ask that Wiz fans have confidence in his management.

"I know everybody wants answers today to everything, but that's not going to happen, because that's not the way I work," he said. "I'm going to take my time.
There's no urgency; you can't sign anybody today... and my experience tells me that the worst time to make decisions is right after tough losses. So you have to take a step back, clear your head, look at everything that happened throughout the season and see where you want to go from there."
Grunfeld also has to mine the potential Stevenson opt-out, as well as negotiate the buyout of imminent Spanish superstar Juan Carlos Navarro, who can't possibly wait any longer to don the golden Wizards uniforms. Stevenson hopes his shot at free agency, unlike many of his shots in the playoffs, lands in the right place. To him, that right place is in DC.

"This is a great situation here, playing with Caron, Gilbert and Antawn,"
Stevenson said. "I think we could have won at least 50 games if everyone stayed
healthy. But I'll have to do what's best for me. This is a great situation
Other players with name-plates on their lockers know what a great situation it is in DC, playing for Jordan. Antonio Daniels and Antawn Jamison reiterated faith in their head coach as well.

“He did a great job making adjustments and doing the things he had to do to make
us competitive. I have a lot of respect for him.”
Said Antawn Jamison, “I love Eddie and think he’s a great coach. He’s made myself and other guys in this locker room great players.”
With enthusiastic locker rooms, brilliant general managing and a solid head coaching philosophy, we can't agree with Jordan's offseason assessment more. We could be Dallas.

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