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Catching up with some links: Wizards' trip to China, more season previews and more

Life's been busy, so I'm catching up on some Wizards reading.  Catch up with me here.

So apparently the Wizards are celebrating the 30th anniversary of their landmark 1979 trip to China with ... another trip to China.  The delegation includes Caron Butler, Randy Foye, Ed Tapscott, Wes Unseld Sr. and none other than my favorite Bullet/Wizards of all time, Gheorghe Muresan.  It sounds like they're running some clinics, doing some philanthropic work and visiting some of the communities devastated by earthquakes. 

It's certainly a nice gesture, but I don't think there's much to read into it that affects team performance.  I suppose you could say the inclusion of Randy Foye indicates the Wizards envision a long-term future for him on this team, but that's stretching it a bit.  You could also say, as Truth does, that it creates goodwill for the Wizards in a bad economy, which might offset the luxury tax bill.  This also strikes me as a bit of a stretch; if anything, the Wizards are losing their luxury tax cushion funds to pay for the trip. 

No matter, it's a nice gesture, and that's very consistent with Abe Pollin's mantra of ownership.  The Wizards are more than a sports team for him: they're a way to give back.  Whether using a sports team for too much philanthropy is the right use of a sports team is another question, but at least we can say this trip is for a nice cause.

More coverage of the trip:

Some other links for your reading pleasure:

Tom Knott: Mason staying close to his foundation - Washington Times

Knott actually did some real reporting again, writing about Roger Mason and his connection back to the DC community.

PBN | Center of attention

Pro Basketball News' Tony Mejia ranks the top 20 centers in the NBA.  Brendan Haywood isn't on the list.  An old Shaq, a no-rebound Andrea Bargnani, a raw Greg Oden, an overrated Chris Kaman, an old Jermaine O'Neal and a declining Marcus Camby are on the list.  PBN fails.

Who's Ready for a Breakout Season? - Wizards Insider

I hate the term "breakout" because it's so nebulous, but Michael Lee asks which Wizards will significantly improve next year among Randy Foye and the kiddie crew. 

Truth About It " Paging Dr. JaVale McGee, The Gauntlet Has Been Thrown Down

Truth responds to a throwaway line in Lee's post about JaVale McGee's social media exploits.  The line was used in a way to question McGee's work ethic and the way he approaches the game.  I don't think Lee meant much by it (reporters do that stuff all the time without thinking), and I think it's vastly blowing the line out of proportion to say that the "gauntlet has been thrown down."  If JaVale McGee doesn't improve much next year, it won't be because he's fooling around on Twitter and YouTube a lot over the summer. 

www.TheHamSandwich.Com: Heaven is a Playground in D.C.

A very interesting first-hand account of a night at Barry Farms.

HoopsHype - NBA Season Previews - Washington Wizards

4th in the Southeast and out of the playoffs?  That's harsh, HoopsHype.  Also, whoever wrote the description about Brendan Haywood ("Fabricio Oberto and JaVale McGee will take over because of his inconsistency") should pay more attention. 

A Behind-The-Scenes Look at the Taping of the In-Game Videos To Be Shown on the Jumbotron

Fabricio Oberto needs to pick a side, dammit!

D.C. Sports Bog - The Redskins' Best Outside Shooter

The answer is ... Randy Thomas?  Didn't see that one coming.

The Confessions Of An NBA Scorekeeper - Nick Van Exel - Deadspin

A troubling account from a former NBA scorekeeper about the subjectivity and corruption (too strong a word, but can't think of another) of NBA stat-keeping.  I strongly recommend this link because, since so many of our advanced stats are based on basic stats, this has ramifications for how reliable our numbers are.  I don't think this is enough to say "see, stats are overrated," and our stats still have some value, but it's interesting to see preconceptions of perfect stat-keeping be shatterd.

48 Minutes of Hell " Falling Down an Elevator Shaft and Landing in a Pool of Mermaids

This is really old, but it's an absolutely fantastic post from Spurs blog 48 Minutes of Hell about the need for contenders to spend to compete nowadays.  It's mostly done through a Spurs lens because the Spurs are going over the luxury tax for the first time in years in hopes of keeping up with the league's elite.  This is something we all need to think about when trying to figure out what our team needs to do to improve.  Abe Pollin has gone over the luxury tax for the first time in forever, and for that, he should be commended, but to really become a contender, he's going to need to spend even more.  The days when you can win while being under the tax are over in today's economy.

the Blowtorch: Caron Butler, I'm Just Like You

Funny stuff.

Wizards 101: What NBA rivalries have shaped the Wizards' past?

George describes the Bullets' rivalries with the Knicks and Sonics in the 70s, then skips three decades and talks about the Wizards-Cavaliers rivalry.  I know the franchise wasn't good between 1979 and 2005, but there have to be other rivalries in there somewhere, right?

From 29th to ... Eighth? - Wizards Insider

Michael Lee includes some quotes from Ernie Grunfeld to lead into linking SI's Chris Mannix's power rankings that have the Wizards 8th.  I'm optimistic about the season, but I'm not ready to rank the Wizards above Utah, New Orleans and Dallas yet.  All those teams won 50 games last year, and none of them got worse.  Unless you feel 50 wins is a shoo-in, which I don't, then I find it hard to rank the Wizards above those team. 

Truth About It " Who Is Randy Foye?

Truth makes some historical comparisons to try to figure out what to expect from Randy Foye this year.  His first comparison yields ... young Gary Payton and young Jason Terry.  Good.  His second comparison yields ... Mike James and Juan Dixon.  Not so good.  The conclusion?  Truth doesn't know.

Bouncin' Around: Wade Will Think Twice About Staying With Beasley -- NBA FanHouse

Tim Potvak of Fanhouse believes the Wizards will be the most improved team in the league.  Assuming everyone is healthy, this isn't exactly a shocking revelation or prediction.