Complete Radio Silence

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

No article has been published in the major media about the Wizards in weeks. No rumors appear to be escaping anyone's lips with Wizards still on them. Only these daily NEWS@ reports provide any update on what's going on in Washington. Why the complete radio silence? Do the Wizards have nothing to ponder? Or is what they're pondering too big to whisper? Is the silence a good thing or a bad one?

The Wizards have about a 15% chance of getting the top draft pick, another 15% chance of getting the second pick, and yet another 15% chance of getting the third overall pick. It's almost fifty-fifty that they'll land one of the top three picks. The worst they could do is seventh in the unlikely scenario that none of Orlando, Chicago, or Washington get any of the top three picks.

With all that luxury, they could consider trading the pick next week after the lottery, perhaps along with some players, to get a better pick. Or they could even look to trade down in exchange for multiple picks. For Orlando and Chicago, the slightest trade possibility elicits mountains of newsprint to digest all the possibilities.

With the Wizards, nothing. Not even a red herring.

But wait: most stories come from leaks and talks with the media. If the Wizards aren't leaking or talking, it's for one of two reasons. Either they have nothing to leak or say, or they have something huge that they have taken extraordinary lengths to keep under wraps.

What sort of thing would need to be kept under wraps? A trade rumor of, say, Jerry Stackhouse for someone else would not need to be. In fact it would be better if it leaked, so that the front office could gauge other team's interest. Leaking a trade rumor is like putting in a classified ad for a tag sale. It just increases the interest.

No, whatever they're mulling must be something that they don't need other teams to know, and they certainly don't want at least one other team to know.

That something is the other draft. While most people's attention has been focused on what pick will go where and what the consequences will be, the Wizards may be silently more worried about the expansion draft in which Charlotte will be plucking from 14 to 29 players from other teams.

The Wizards have 10 players under contract for next season, of which they can protect only eight. Gilbert Arenas and all the players still on their rookie contracts (Kwame Brown, Brendan Haywood, Juan Dixon, Jared Jefferies, and Jarvis Hayes) will surely be protected. That's already six players, leaving only two protected spots to dole out among Steve Blake, Larry Hughes, Christian Laettner, and Jerry Stackhouse.

The typical decision in spots such as these is to expose players that are either not talented enough for their contract, easily replaceable, or have such large contracts that the hope is that the Bobcats blink.

The problem with exposing large contracts is that the Bobcats have another ace up their sleeve: they can select the monster contract and then trade it to another team.

But the Wizards may be playing a deeper game. They may leave Stackhouse unprotected. Why? Because even though his contract stretched for another three years, and even though the Bobcats may not want such a burden on their burgeoning club, they may want to find suitors for Stackhouse.

Laettner is in his last year and could be either good trade bait in the mid-season for a team looking to clear cap space or a good way to get rid of cap space themselves. On the other hand, the Bobcats could use an expiring contract too, and that would get his contract off the books immediately.

So perhaps the Wizards will protect Blake and Hughes, leaving Laettner and Stackhouse available for the taking.

Are the Wizards so disenchanted with Stackhouse that they'll let him go for literally nothing in return?

We'll see if he is left unprotected.

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The AZ Centralran this story by The Associated Press: Mullin also appointed Rod Higgins as the new general manager Thursday to replace Garry St. Jean, who was stripped of his duties and moved into a new role with the team. Higgins, Mullins' former Warriors teammate, had been working as a scout for Golden State. Higgins, 44, played seven seasons for the Warriors and spent three seasons as the assistant general manager of the Washington Wizards.

Ken Wright ofThe Washington Times writes: The Mystics' six previous head coaches have not been a part of the family of Washington Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the Mystics and the NBA's Washington Wizards. [Michael] Adams becomes the first Mystics coach to have ties to the organization.

Michael Wilbon ofThe Washington Post writes onMSNBC.com: The Sacramento Kings were a joke when he [Chris Webber] got there;the team had never had a winning season before he arrived in exchange for Mitch Richmond and Otis Thorpe, courtesy of the Washington Wizards. But with Webber, the Kings were a serious contender almost overnight.