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Daniels out 2-4 weeks with an MCL sprain

[editor's note, by Pradamaster] Merging my thoughts with Jake's post, so click "Read More" to see those. Also, see sierradave's diary, and keep the comments coming on the Arenas post. I really appreciate David coming on to discuss his post, and I mean that sincerely.

Ivan Carter breaks the bad news:

Washington Wizards guard Antonio Daniels is expected to miss two to four weeks with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee, an injury he suffered during Thursday night's 104-91 victory over the Miami Heat.

The injury occurred during the second quarter but Daniels continued to play and finished with 11 points, 5 assists and 2 rebounds, helping the Wizards snap a 10-game losing streak in Miami.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to say that this isn't good at all.  I could give you any number of reasons on why this is really, really bad but I think FanHouse, DC Pro Sports Report and Les Bullez covered it pretty well.  So who picks up the slack with AD out?  There's a few options:

With Daniels out, the Wizards are left with nine healthy players for tonight's game against the Sacramento Kings. Wheaton native and former University of Virginia star Roger Mason Jr. is one option to start in Daniels's place for Coach Eddie Jordan. Another option could be rookie first-round pick Nick Young.

If I was a betting man, I'd put my money of Mason for tonight (as would Ivan) simply because he's run the point more than Young in both the regular season and the preseason, including one game he started when both Gilbert and Antonio were sitting out where he did pretty good.  Don't be shocked to see Young and Stevenson get some burn at the point as well.  I know in the past that Eddie said he wanted to avoid having Mason and Young in the backcourt at the same time, but I don't think he'll really have a choice tonight so let's hope that his reasons for not wanting to pair them together were completely unfounded.

There's still no word on whether or not Abe will make a rare exception and go over the tax to add another player yet or if he'll try and stick it out.  If he chooses to stay under, one option would be making a trade to pick up a PG, but don't expect any miracles since I'm sure every GM in the NBA is aware that the Wizards are low on players and will lowball us accordingly (except maybe Kevin McHale).  

Consider this your place to lament and speculate on where Abe and Ernie go from here.

The thing is, if we're just talking about our half-court offense, a point guard isn't all that essential.  Daniels was doing a great job facilitating, but in the Princeton, so many pieces are interchangeable that you can get away with not having a "pure point guard" run the offense.  The problem lies in getting the ball upcourt and holding onto it once you're there.  As Ziller mentioned, AD is one of the best in the business at avoiding turnovers and drawing fouls considering the amount of time he handles the ball without shooting it.  Losing that is a very big blow, particularly because avoiding turnovers and getting free throws have been the key staples to our offensive attack in the last few years.  

On the court, my worry, therefore, is that we'll turn into a high-turnover jump-shooting team that will struggle to maintain a rhythm.  Without Gilbert, we were already heading down that direction, but now with the trigger-happy Mason starting instead of AD, it's going to get even worse.  That's not an indictment on Mason, who has impressed me recently with his defense in particular, but it may mean our most efficient scorers don't get the ball as much.

As far as our depth, I don't see how Ernie can avoid signing another point guard at this point.  I'm pretty sure you can sign someone to a non-guaranteed contract and then just cut him after the season before the luxury tax is calculated, but I may be wrong about that.  There are people laying around that we can get.  Mike Wilks just got cut by Denver, Earl Boykins has been out there for a while (though he's expensive), and guys like Brian Chase and Andre Barrett played on training camp rosters.  I'm sure Ernie's plan was to wait until January for the 10-day contracts, but I don't think he has that luxury anymore.

The one positive is more playing time for Nick Young, but that's about it.  In the wake of the Miami victory, this news is as bad as it gets.