Countdown to Etan Thomas

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

While the Bucks may think they have a chance at landing Etan Thomas, my crystal ball tells me he's going to stay. Last night, he spoke at the Russell Senate Office Building, along with Sen. Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah), at a ceremony and reception for teenage winners of a contest for writing about youth violence. Can Milwaukee offer him that kind of extracurricular lifestyle? It's only a matter of time before Washington GM Ernie Grunfeld matches the Bucks offer for the restricted free agent center.

Is Milwaukee being used? Is Thomas merely leveraging an offer from Milwaukee to get a good deal from Washington? Of course! That seems undeniable. When restricted free agents sign an offer sheet, they often have been wooed and wined and dined by the team they are signing up with, and they develop a real desire to move. Witness as an example Jason Terry last year, when Utah signed him to an offer sheet. Though he had talked about wanting to stay in Atlanta, once the offer sheet was done, he said everything he could to get Atlanta to pass on him and let him go to Utah. They didn't; Atlanta matched the offer sheet and Terry ate his words.

But Thomas has never said anything to pressure Washington into letting him go. On the contrary, he has said he wants to stay a Wizard. His political and cultural interests seem to suggest Washington is the right city for him.

There's an even bigger indicator that Milwaukee is merely being used. Most restricted free agents at least request of their original teams that they not match the new offer. Not Thomas.

The deadline is July 29 by my reckoning. That gives about a week more to Washington to lick their collective chops and for Milwaukee to grind their collective teeth. But you, my friends, need not worry. Thomas almost surely will remain a Wizard.

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The Charlotte Business Journalwrites: The Charlotte Bobcats has named Adrian Branch as the team's television color analyst... For the past three years, Branch has been a studio analyst for Comcast SportsNet in Washington, D.C. Branch provided halftime and postgame analysis for college basketball games and he also offered commentary on Wizards Post Game Live, a 30-minute show that provided viewers with interviews, analysis and news on the NBA's Washington Wizards after games.

Sewell Chan ofThe Washington Postwrites: A ninth-grader at Jefferson Junior High School, Anthony is one of two District students honored yesterday as national finalists in the Do the Write Thing program, which began 10 years ago in an effort to get children to examine their feelings and write about the culture of youth violence and what they can do to combat it. Organizers said 32,000 middle-school students from throughout the country participated this year. The 47 finalists, each accompanied by a relative or an educator, were led this week on a three-day tour of the city that included visits to the Library of Congress, the Department of Justice and the National Zoo and culminated in a ceremony and reception last night at the Russell Senate Office Building, at which Sen. Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah) and Washington Wizards center-forward Etan Thomas spoke.

Brett Friedlander ofThe Fayetteville Observerwrites: The most recent NBA exhibition game at the Crown, between the Washington Wizards and Denver Nuggets on Oct. 15, 2002, drew more than 9,000 fans.Two years earlier, a preseason gamebetween the old Charlotte Hornets and the Houston Rockets drew a crowd of more than 7,000.

The Savannah Morning Newswrites: The Washington Wizards' Kwame Brown, the NBA's No. 1 draft pick in 2001, will hold a camp Saturday at the Boys and Girls Club in Statesboro from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.The camp is open to the public and includes games, arts and crafts and a period for autograph signings. Later in the day (4 p.m. to 9 p.m.), the Brunswick native will be at the Statesboro High gym, conducting basketball skills demonstrations and a basketball tournament. For more information, call Samose Mays at (912) 489-4334.