Anxious or unconcerned: Wizards deal with trade deadline

Anxious or unconcerned: Wizards deal with trade deadline
February 20, 2013, 8:00 pm
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NBA personnel - at least the players and coaches - try to ignore Thursday's 3p.m. trading deadline, so they say.

Some of the Wizards do a better job of burying their head in the sand than others.

"It didn't even occur to me until you said it," Emeka Okafor told a reporter following Wednesday's practice. "Nothing happens until it does. You don't really think about it. It's part of the game."

Yes, it's part of the game, but it must cross your mind even a little, right?

"No, not at all, not at all," the big man said. "Again, even if you didn't say it right now it wouldn't have entered my mind. I'm pretty sure it's the same case with a lot of guys on this team. We're here. Things happen at the last minute but you can only worry about what you can control. We've got a game on Friday."

Okafor's been through this week nine times during his NBA career. That's more than a sample size, adding credibly to the veteran's take.

That's also far less experience in this scenario than Randy Wittman, a player and coach in the league since 1983. Wittman's opinion on whether his players are worried about the major transactional marker is just a little different from his center's.

"Oh sure," Wittman said. "You can ask every team. There is somebody or some anticipation or anxiety or call it whatever term you want to look at it. It’s a yearly reality. And as a coach, you always can’t wait until that day is over."

The schedule does not provide an on-court distraction. Following Tuesday's 96-88 loss to Toronto, Washington is off until Friday when it goes back-to-back home games against Denver and Houston.

"I’ve been here now for three years," Kevin Seraphin said. "I see my teammate leave, see some teammate come. That’s something you can’t control. If you can’t control it, I’m not worried about it."

Those with any level of anxiety probably perk their ears up when the Wizards' are mentioned in various trade rumors. Recently that has been happening, especially as a team acquiring Atlanta's Josh Smith or one looking to move Jordan Crawford.

Adding Smith - a talented forward with penchant for taking poor shots entering his free agent summer - would be a suspect maneuver for the rebuilding Wizards. Apparently those with supposed interest have changed their tune.

As for Crawford, the confident scorer did not play against the Raptors. His fourth straight "DNP-CD" only added to the now constant trade speculation. The third-year guard's antics did as well.

Crawford spent nearly the entire game slumped in his seat at the end of the Wizards bench. Walking off the court after the final buzzer, he removed his jersey and flung it into the crowd. This all came after Crawford's semi-cryptic statistical tweet on Sunday. He left the locker room before the media arrived after the game and refused to speak with reporters on Wednesday.

Crawford's drama aside, the Wizards are in a unique position: a club sporting an unsightly 15-37 record yet one that has played its best basketball over the last month now that all playing options are available. Stay the course or alter it are the decisions Washington's front office is mulling.

"We’re not Miami. We’re not Oklahoma City, where you’re pretty set," Wittman said. "Teams like ourselves, we’re always looking. We still need to continue to build and improve this team. Talent. Different things and so for a team like us, we’re probably looking or listening... Those kind of questions, so it’s not usual for us, even though we’ve been playing at a good clip here. I still think you’ve got to look at the future and can you make the team better and if you can, you’re probably going to try to do some things."

If you're a player - and not pushing for a trade -, that might not be what you want to hear. Of course, this is the business they have chosen.

"You just got to play," said Trevor Ariza, once acquired by the Los Angeles Lakers midway through what turned into a championship season. "Can't worry about trade rumors or whatever the situation may be. You just got to go out and play. That's all you can do. As players, do the best you can do and see what happens."

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