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Thursday, October 5, 2006
Wizards past 'just being happy' in playoffs, Pollin says

Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. -- Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin visited his players at training camp Thursday, urging the team to go deeper into the playoffs this season.

"We have passed the point of just being happy about being in the playoffs," Pollin said. "I think our players, coaches and basketball operations staff feel that this will be a very, very competitive team this season."

Pollin announced a four-year contract extension for Ernie Grunfeld, beginning when his current five-year deal expires in 2008. Grunfeld, the president of basketball operations, signed the multiyear extension Wednesday.

The Wizards have made consecutive playoff appearances for the first time since the 1980s. The 82-year-old Pollin is the league's longest-serving owner, and vowed to keep the team until it wins another title to match the 1978 championship.

"I have never seen a team this focused," Pollin said. "I can sense in talking to them that they feel it -- the focus that everybody has. They think that we have a lot to prove, and they're going to try to prove it."

Coach Eddie Jordan said he has settled on a five-man rotation of guards Gilbert Arenas and DeShawn Stevenson, forwards Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison, and either Brendan Haywood or Etan Thomas at center.

Forward Darius Songaila, one of the team's new free agents, has been unable to practice because of a pinched nerve in his lower back.

"If we can be completely healthy with Darius back, it'll be a good, veteran rotation," Jordan said. "We're at least 10 deep. They've proven themselves."