Christmas season doesn't officially start for a couple of months, but new Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan is ready to open his presents as the team opens training camp today in Charleston, S.C.
Jordan, who arrived in Washington from four years as the lead assistant coach with the New Jersey Nets, is so ready to get started that he has already scripted the first five practices with his young players and the first two for the veterans.
"That's the best part of coaching: the preparation that has you going through each scenario and how you're going to prepare for different adversities," Jordan said.
Jordan, 48, in his second head coaching job after a short stint in Sacramento, will welcome a callow but talented group of players to the workouts at the College of Charleston.
And while some might look at the Washington roster, with nine players 25 years old or younger intimidated, Jordan is looking at this week and the eight-game exhibition game schedule, as a chance to teach.
"We like the fact that there aren't a lot of old habits to break," said Jordan. "We feel like we can have normal growth, accelerated growth or growing pains."
Thanks to a concession granted to the NBA Players Association by the league last February, the six Washington veterans with four years in the league or more won't have to report until Thursday evening. They won't participate in their first workouts until Friday - four days before the first preseason game next Tuesday against the New York Knicks at MCI Center.
It's possible, though, and perhaps beneficial, that some of the veterans may report early to get a grasp on Jordan's offense, which borrows heavily from the Princeton style of reads and cuts.
Jordan said he hasn't settled on any lineups, but will look during camp to see combinations. For now, returning leading scorer Jerry Stackhouse and newly acquired point guard Gilbert Arenas are the only assured starters, but Stackhouse, who was expected to start at shooting guard with the retirement of Michael Jordan, may be tried at small forward in certain circumstances.
Former Maryland stars Juan Dixon and Steve Blake will compete for spots in the rotation. Dixon, who had an inconsistent rookie year, will look to back up Stackhouse and Larry Hughes at shooting guard, while Blake, a second-round draft choice this year, will see time behind Arenas and newly re-acquired Chris Whitney at the point.