First things first: I wrote a feature story about Yi Jianlian for SB Nation D.C. here. The gist is that the Wizards have gone out of their way to make sure Yi feels comfortable in this environment, because all accounts are that he was lost in Milwaukee and New Jersey. From the sounds of it, he pretty much hated playing for last year's Nets team. So far, he's rewarded their faith with a solid preseason.
As for the Gilbert Arenas issue - Sean's at practice today and will have a full report with Flip Saunders' reaction later.
Some other quick notes from interviews last night.
- I missed talking to Arenas, but I watched Truth About It's video and found some interesting non-fake injury nuggets.
- Arenas had this to say about Nick Young: "I used to talk to Eddie Jordan about it. I said that, when he gets in, you can't treat him like the rest of us. You can't put him in plays like the rest of us. His basketball skill is straight raw, so you have to treat him like D-Wade. You have to say, 'Okay, I'll bring up the ball, let him get the ball and do pick-and-roll and ISO plays.' He's a great one-on-one player, and I think when you put him in offense and have him sit in the corner, you lose him. He's one of those guys you have to keep talking to -- say 'Come on, I'm looking for you' -- so he can stay in the game. Needless to say, I'm not so thrilled that Gil thinks this.
- He also said this about playing again: "Basketball is basketball, but this is the city where I have been playing for the last eight years. I know they love me here, so Thursday, I'll be out there."
- He also continues to believe he's a good fit off the ball. "When Larry [Hughes] left, the two was Jared Jeffries and DeShawn Stevenson, so I had to score, but I always want another guard to help me. When you go back in league history, name two guards that never got along with each other. It's usually the guard and the big man who never get along, because the guard has the ball and the big man wants the ball. But two guards always play well together."
- Non-Arenas stuff.
- Flip Saunders once again took a little shot at last year's roster when I asked him how far along this group was at picking up his system. "This year's team doesn't feel entitled and is more receptive and more trusting right now [than last year's team]," he said, later adding that "the ball doesn't stick as much [this year as last year], and when it sticks, it sticks in your point guard hands, which is the guy that's going to make decisions."
- Saunders said Andray Blatche is still working his way back from his summer injury, and therefore, his conditioning isn't quite there yet.
- On that front, Blatche had this to say: "I've only played basketball for two weeks now after not playing for four months. I'm getting there. It's a rhythm thing. I passed my conditioning test, and it's a process. Anyone that doesn't touch a basketball or really do stuff for four months is going to be dragging. It's a process and I'm going to continue working at it."
- Nick Young graded his defense as a B+/A-, after starting off as a C. I also noticed he wasn't celebrating much after shots, and asked him about it. "I'm a grown man now," he said. "I look after John, and he's a rookie. I'm a vet now, so I got to set the tone."
- JaVale McGee once again said he's trying to "lower" his style, though he said "if I finger roll or something, I can't help that. It's just what I do. But I'm still trying to be strong and rebound and stuff like that, become more of a big man in that aspect."
- He also didn't seem to indicate he's really worked on any big-man "tricks," other than boxing out. "I don't even turn around to box out anymore, I just look at my man and keep pushing him off until I know he's not going for the ball. Then, I'll go get the ball." He also said he's working a bit with Gene Banks on his development, saying he's working with him on hook shots and post moves "so that we're more stable and not out of control out there." He said he occasionally works separately with him, but mostly, it's all the big men together.