Pieces Falling Into Place

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

With Etan Thomas being retained by the Wizards, GM Ernie Grunfeld is looking to secure his roster for many years to come. Next on the agenda are relatively unhurried extension negotiations with Kwame Brown and Brendan Haywood. Extensions can be offered until October 31.

Grunfeld had some nice things to say about his backup center. "Etan," he said, "is a developing big man who has proven he can rebound, block shots and defend in this league. The energy and enthusiasm he brings to the floor every night is contagious, and we’re excited that Etan will continue to be a valuable part our roster."

Character, Grunfeld also toldThe Washington Times,continued to play a huge role in the development of the roster. "We think he [Etan] is an outstanding person as far as character is concerned... He's a very good teammate and he is the type of person that we like to have in our organization." 

Wizards owner Abe Pollin said he was also very happy to match. "There's no way that I would let Etan Thomas go, no way," said Pollin. "He's part of us and he's going to be part of us for many years to come."

With Antawn Jamison's impeccable character and now Etan Thomas re-signed to a multi-year deal, and the trading out of both Jerry Stackhouse and Christian Laettner, the Wizards feel they are building a cohesive locker room full of guys without discipline problems, without ego, and without selfishness.

The Wizards, in other words, are trying to build a winning team in the mold of the Detroit Pistons.

You can shop at the Wizards team storewhere you can personalized jerseys with your name and number.


John N. Mitchell ofThe Washington Timeswrites: Not long after Milwaukee Bucks general manager Larry Harris stepped off a jet to present a $38 million offer sheet to Washington center Etan Thomas, Wizards president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld knew the trip was a waste of time.All along, Grunfeld said, he had intended to keep the 26-year-old Thomas in Washington, and yesterday the team made it official with a matching offer... The Wizards have exceeded the salary cap of $43.8 million this season. The 11 players under contract bring their projected payroll for the coming season to approximately $45 million. They are somewhat restricted in their ability to pursue what is left of the 2004 free-agent class before the start of the regular season. But they do have most of their mid-level exception (roughly $5 million) and a $1.6 million veteran's exception available.

Greg Sandoval ofThe Washington Postwrites: Wizards owner Abe Pollin brought a little levity to the proceedings yesterday at MCI Center, where the team announced -- as expected -- that it had decided to match the Milwaukee Bucks' offer to Etan Thomas, thus keeping the forward-center in Washington for six years. Pollin was asked during the news conference whether he discussed the $36.6 million contract with Thomas. "I said, 'Etan, I love you. You're a terrible basketball player, but I'm going to sign you anyway,' " Pollin joked with reporters. "Really, Etan is a great human being . . . a great basketball player."The Wizards have long felt Thomas, 26, a social activist who writes poetry when he's not bringing down rebounds and lending a defensive presence, is the type of player they like on the court and in the community... With Thomas signed, the Wizards are left with the mid-level exception of about $5 million, the $1 million exception and the veterans' minimum to sign additional players.