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Bullet Points: Your roundup of Washington Wizards news

Follow the latest Washington Wizards news and links in this StoryStream.

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213 Total Updates since January 22, 2013
  • Important 180
  • Updates 96
  • Articles 82
  • All Updates 213

Porter on injured hip: 'It still hurts'

Otto Porter will meet with team doctors Monday to determine the status of his injured hip, but admitted that "it still hurts" over one month after the initial pain began.

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No Nene tomorrow

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Porter to miss first 2 preseason games

The Wizards' rookie continues to deal with a hip flexor injury and strongly suggested he won't play in the team's first two preseason games.

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Leonsis: No excuses

"We have 13 healthy players and the one thing I'm not allowing anybody to do is use injuries as an excuse," Leonsis said at a news conference. "We have 15 players under contract. Two can't start the season. That means we have 13. That's all you can dress anyway.

CSN Washington.
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Wizards' over/under set at 42 wins

The Las Vegas sports book tabs the Washington Wizards at 42 wins for the 2013-14 regular season. How accurate is it given the injury to Emeka Okafor?

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Jason Collins back in D.C.?

Collins was a member of the Wizards for only the final two months of last season, but he quickly became a revered figure in a locker room filled with young players. The assumption, then, is that Collins would thus be welcomed back instantly in that locker room if the Wiz -- who have already lost starting center Emeka Okafor indefinitely to a neck injury -- ring him up and ask him to return. The greater obstacle is the fact that Washington has 15 guaranteed contracts and would have to scrap one to make room for him. Would the Wiz really do that for a spot-minute center? You'll recall that Detroit, in August, ultimately opted to sign Josh Harrellson after opening talks with Collins about a mentor role to young bigs Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.

Marc Stein.
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Otto Porter has a hip flexor injury

And the bad luck continues...

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Wiz hire former 76ers GM as scout

DiLeo, a longtime member of the 76ers' organization in several capacities, was a casualty of new general manager Sam Hinkie's hiring.

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Ted Leonsis on why Ernie Grunfeld is still the GM

"Well, it’s a plan that we articulated together," Leonsis answered. "This is my fourth season owning the team. Whatever circumstances there were beforehand, they didn’t deal with me. And Ernie is very well respected around the league. We’ve blown the team up, John Wall is our most tenured player, and I worked with Ernie and we articulated a plan and we’ve been executing the plan together. This is an important year for the franchise. We want to take a step forward and we want the team to play better and qualify for the playoffs. And I have a lot of confidence in the front office and the coaching staff and the players that we’re taking the right steps and measures, that we can be a playoff team."

That's what he told WUSA9's Dave Owens (transcript via The Bog). Later, Leonsis evaded questions about whether Grunfeld is on the hot seat.
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Wall healthy, eyes playoffs

John Wall talks to ESPN's Jeff Goodman.

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More training camp invites

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Singleton out 6-8 weeks after foot surgery

The injury bug has bitten the Wizards early again.

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SI: Wall is 40th-best NBA player this season

Among those ahead of him: Mike Conley, Paul Millsap, Pau Gasol, Kawhi Leonard.

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Wizards front office changes

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has promoted Tommy Sheppard to senior vice president of basketball operations. In addition, the team has named Marc Eversley as vice president of scouting, Frank Ross as director of player personnel, Greg Ballard as advance pro scout and Thomas Knox as director of player performance and rehabilitation while promoting Ed Tapscott to vice president of player programs, Pat Sullivan to assistant coach, Brett Greenberg to director of basketball analytics/salary cap management, Bryan Oringher to video coordinator and Ryan Richman to assistant video coordinator.

Press release.
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Wiz hire former Raptors executive

I know nothing about Eversley, but I imagine he'll occupy the role the departed Milt Newton and Pat Connelly filled in the past.

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Wittman: 'No restrictions' for Nene

Randy Wittman doesn't anticipate Nene needing a minutes restriction this year like he did last season. However, it might be wise for the Wizards to consider one anyway.

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Wizards impressed by Vesely's play at Eurobasket

Wittman is apparently "beyond pleased" with Vesely's play. Leonsis also noted Vesely's strong play in a recent blog post: http://tedstake.monumentalnetwork.com/more-on-jan-and-eurobasket/index.jsp Finally, Vesely so far is the tournament leader in rebounds and second in points: http://www.eurobasket2013.org/en/default.asp

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Bernard King: Comeback with Bullets 'defines my career'

The new Hall of Famer says that as good as his time with the Knicks was, his comeback with the Bullets following a devastating knee injury was what he'll remember most about his career.

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Wizards lose a scout

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Jan on his position change

RealGM: What are those details that make this transition so difficult?

Vesely: The main thing is that in Europe I was playing as a small forward, and in the NBA I was moved to four position. In summer league, I even played as a center sometimes. So I had to fight with big guys. Coach puts me on the floor, so I have to adjust my game and play for a position.

RealGM: Do you feel comfortable with the decision to put you under the basket?

Vesely: It's very hard as I'm used to running on the wing all the time. It's different, but that's how basketball works.

Via Real GM. Nothing new, but figured I'd point out the interview.
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Report: Wizards VP of Player Personnel is the new Wolves GM

According to Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN in Minnesota, Flip Saunders has reached back into his old stomping grounds in the Wizards front office and plucked away Milt Newton to be the Wolves' new GM. If the reports are true -- Newton's been coveted by Saunders for some time, so they probably are -- then the Wizards will have to replace someone that'd been there for nine years. (HT: ProBasketballTalk and 1500ESPN )

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Wall: Wiz to have minicamp after Labor Day

The Wizards' star said he expects to have everyone back in town to work out together after Labor Day, well before the beginning of the team's official training camp on September 28.

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Report: Porter backs out of Vegas Skills camp

Otto Porter was supposed to go to Tim Grgurich's camp in Las Vegas, but backed out. He's not hurt. Why would he back out of this highly sought-out skills training? Very interesting development.

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Milt Newton may be leaving after all

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Wiz begin extension talks with Wall

J Michael of CSN Washington reports that the Wizards have begun talks with John Wall and his agent regarding an extension.

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Beal may sit out Team USA minicamp

Bradley Beal's recovery from a stress injury in his right fibula is not yet complete.

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Wiz officially sign Porter, Rice Jr.

The Washington Wizards have signed forward Otto Porter and guard Glen Rice, Jr., President Ernie Grunfeld announced today. The Wizards selected Porter with the third overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft while they acquired Rice (taken 35th overall by Philadelphia) in exchange for the 38th and 54th overall picks.

Press release. Porter will likely make 120 percent of the rookie scale, to be determined on July 10. I'm curious to see the details on Rice's deal. The Wizards' roster is now officially at 14.
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Webster's back in D.C. for physical therapy

"Right now I just want to come here and get a grasp of what it's going to take to get me back to where I want be," Webster said. "My goal is to come in training camp for whatever team I'm playing for in shape. The fact that these guys are so hands on in the situation I'm in now let's me know how much that they want me back here, which is amazing. "Like I said before, I just want to be wanted and be valued for what I bring to the table."

Martell Webster explains to Ben Standig that he's not back in D.C. specifically to meet with the Wizards, but rather to undergo physical therapy following hernia surgery. I'm guessing Martell will meet with Ernie Grunfeld while he's here, though.
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Trevor Ariza won't opt out

No surprises there.

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John Wall on his diet

Q: How has your diet changed over the years? JOHN WALL: It's changed a lot since my first year in the NBA. I used to eat fast food and burgers and stuff like that. I didn't put on weight during the season, but after the season was over, I could feel it coming. Now I eat salads, fruit, salmon, healthy things. I don't eat fast food anymore. And I don't eat ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, pickles. I don't like sausage. I'm a different breed. Via ESPN. HE'S FLIP-FLOPPING YOU GUYS.
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Abe Pollin's son opposes name change

Just seeing now your piece on the idea of changing the name of the Wizards back to the Bullets. I would like you to know my view on it, which I have expressed directly to Ted Leonsis on more than one occasion. That is, I am vehemently opposed to the name change. I think it would represent a major denigration of my father’s memory and legacy.

As told to Dan Steinberg.
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Beal expects to be cleared in 'next week or two'

Bradley Beal is getting very close to returning to the court after a stress injury in his right fibula knocked him out of basketball-related activities for nearly three months.

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Wizards Summer League schedule announced

The NBA has announced the schedule of games for Las Vegas Summer League from July 13th to July 22nd, and with it, the Wizards' schedule has been set. From the press release:

The Wizards will play in three preliminary round games from July 13-16 before being seeded in a tournament running through the Championship Game on July 22. Washington will play its first game on Saturday, July 13 vs. Golden State at 4:00 p.m. EST. Their next two games are scheduled for Sunday, July 14 vs. New York at 4:00 p.m. EST and Tuesday, July 16 vs. Denver at 10:00 p.m. EST. All three of the Wizards preliminary games will take place at the COX Pavilion.

This year's Summer League has 22 teams scheduled to play a total of 61 games, including a tournament at the end. Each team present at Summer League is guaranteed to play five games (three before the tournament, two within it) in addition to more on their way to the ultimate Summer League championship, which I assume is a glowing piece of that radical rock.

If you want to go to Vegas and attend Summer League as a fan, you can buy tickets through the UNLV box office: 702-739-FANS.

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Beal expects to be cleared by July 1

The Washington Post reports that Bradley Beal will be cleared on July 1st to participate in basketball-related activities, three months after his original stress injury diagnosis.

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No Bullets?

A top Wizards exec said the franchise would "probably not" be renamed the Bullets. "There are certain instances in the last few years with certain players that I think are going to prevent that," said Monumental Sports & Entertainment Senior VP & CMO Joe Dupriest.

Sports Business Journal. Dupriest did say the team would "use the history" of the Bullets more, whatever that means.
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Wizards will visit Oladipo

The Wizards are planning to travel to Bowie to visit with Victor Oladipo before the draft, according to a report.

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Wall, Beal invited to Team USA minicamp

Via a team press release: The other players: Ryan Anderson, Harrison Barnes, Mike Conley, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, DeMar DeRozan, Andre Drummond, Kenneth Faried, Derrick Favors, Paul George, Taj Gibson, Gordon Hayward, Jrue Holiday, Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Ty Lawson, Kawhi Leonard, Damian Lillard, Greg Monroe, Chandler Parsons, Larry Sanders, Klay Thompson, Dion Waiters, Kemba Walker and Tyler Zeller.

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Noel to visit with Wizards

The Washington Wizards are expected to sit down with potential No. 1 pick Nerlens Noel on Saturday, according to a report.

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Otto Porter workout update

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Sichting leaving Wiz for Suns

Jerry Sichting, who served as an assistant for Randy Wittman's for just one year, is leaving to join Jeff Hornacek's staff in Phoenix, according to this report:

Sichting did a lot of work with the Wizards' big man, replacing Gene Banks in that role.

It'll be interesting to see if the Wizards commit to finding a replacement. Washington already has Don Newman, Sam Cassell, Ryan Saunders and Don Zierden on staff, but a coach that specializes in big men would be a good addition.

UPDATE: My apologies, I got some bad info. It's Newman that spends most of his time working with the big men, not Sichting.

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Goodwin backs out of Wizards' workout

What happened to Kentucky guard Archie Goodwin, who was scheduled to work out with the Wizards this week? He decided against coming, persons with knowledge of the situation told CSN Washington.

CSN Washington.
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Okafor last in 'Teammate of the Year' award voting

UPDATE: Okafor finished last among the 12 finalists, collecting 10 first-place votes, 12 second-place votes, seven third-place votes, 28 fourth-place votes and 34 fifth-place votes. Chauncey Billups won the award, which feels like a Lifetime Achievement honor because he barely played this year.

Here are the results:

Player First Second Third Fourth Fifth TOTAL POINTS
Chauncey Billups 64 80 37 44 26 1,543
Shane Battier 79 41 26 32 21 1,324
Jason Kidd 42 38 43 31 54 1,048
Jarrett Jack 26 45 44 25 25 895
Jerry Stackhouse 30 34 47 22 26 865
Manu Ginobili 35 14 23 43 30 722
Andre Iguodala 13 22 31 27 46 566
Luke Walton 18 26 23 19 21 555
Roger Mason 13 12 27 30 19 458
Roy Hibbert 6 12 26 19 21 352
Serge Ibaka 11 11 13 23 21 342
Emeka Okafor 10 12 7 28 34 333

***

Emeka Okafor has been named as one of 12 finalists for the just-unveiled "Twyman/Stokes Award," given to the player that is the most "ideal teammate" in the league. The other 11 finalists: Jerry Stackhouse, Luke Walton, Andre Iguodala, Jarrett Jack, Roy Hibbert, Chauncey Billups, Shane Battier, Roger Mason Jr., Jason Kidd, Serge Ibaka and Manu Ginobili.

The winner will be unveiled prior to Game 2 of the NBA Finals Sunday. A panel of current players voted on the award. None could vote for a member of their own team.

Okafor's candidacy was no doubt fueled by his reported confrontation with John Wall following one of Wall's worst games of the season. Wall's production took off from that moment forward.

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Bennett to interview in D.C. next week

The Washington Wizards have yet to talk to Anthony Bennett because he didn't attend the 2013 NBA Draft combine, but that will change next week.

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Workout updates from CSN

To review: -Otto Porter and Mason Plumlee will come on June 14. -Victor Oladipo is not working out with anyone, making them come see him in Bowie. -Cody Zeller and Erick Green rejected workout invitations. -Trey Burke was not invited to work out. -Ben McLemore is undecided if he'll come to D.C. If he does, C.J. McCollum will work out against him.

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Porter working out for Wizards on June 14th

Per the Washington Post's Michael Lee, the presumptive third overall pick in the draft, Otto Porter, is working out for the Wizards on Friday, June 14th at the Verizon Center.

Lee confirmed details about the planned workout with Porter's agent David Falk. Also, according to Falk, Porter is only planning on working out for the top three teams in the draft: the Cavaliers, the Magic, and the Wizards.

The Wizards have also been considering selecting Victor Oladipo, Ben McLemore, Nerlens Noel, and Anthony Bennett. Most mock drafts have Noel going first overall, though there is some indication (as Lee points out) that Cleveland might select Porter instead. And as we've been seeing over the past week or so, there's been plenty of debate among Wizards management and fans about possibly selecting Bennett over Porter with the third pick.

At this stage in the pre-draft process, a lot of this talk is misdirection. Teams don't want to play their hands, players and their agents want to maximize their worth, and fans love the debates. And with a draft with no clear standouts (though plenty of quality players), everyone's getting their chance to speculate. But it does appear that the most likely third overall pick is definitely working out for the team with the third overall selection.

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Wall: Wiz 'need a 4 man that can pick and pop'

John Wall told a reporter that the Wizards "need a 4 man that can pick and pop" on Saturday night. This is not the first time he has said something like this.

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CSN Washington: Wizards begin draft workouts next week

Six players a day next week, with the high-lottery picks coming the following week. CSN has confirmed the following players will come in next week: Kentucky's Archie Goodwin, Louisville's Peyton Siva, Bucknell's Mike Muscala, Syracuse's James Southerland, Iowa State's Will Clyburn, Memphis' Adonis Thomas, Temple's Khalif Wyatt and Oklahoma's Romero Osby.

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Summer League: July 12-22

We now know that the 2013 NBA Summer League will include the Washington Wizards, along with 20 other pro teams and one D-League Select squad. More information:

  • Games will take place between July 12 and 22, with each team playing a minimum of five games.
  • Once each team plays three games, a single-elimination tournament will take place starting on July 16 to determine the Summer League "champion."
  • The teams that lose in the first round will drop down to a "loser's bracket," though they will not be in contention for the championship. This is a way to ensure that everyone plays at least five games.
The specific schedule is not out yet, but now you know when you can book your tickets to go to Vegas. I'll be out there the whole time.
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Martell Webster: Wizards have done a 180

This via a SLAM mini-profile from blog buddy Abe Schwadron

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Milt Newton leaving too?

Newton and Tommy Sheppard are two of Ernie Grunfeld's most trusted front-office members. Pat Connelly, the Wizards' director of player personnel, is already leaving to go to the Suns.

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Suns hire Wizards' FO member

The Phoenix Suns have hired away one of the key members of the Washington Wizards' front office. Pat Connelly, who helped spearhead the Wizards' scouting department, will be going to the Phoenix Suns to work for new GM Ryan McDonough, according to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.

Connelly was with the Wizards for seven seasons, serving as a scout for the first five and the director of player personnel for the last two.

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Wall, Beal invited to Team USA minicamp

Now's around the time of the year when the league's top young American players get invitations to participate in Team USA Basketball's select team minicamp in Las Vegas in July. This is essentially the program's way of cultivating a reserve pool of potential team participants while trying to pick out ones that could be ticketed for the team in the future.

Twenty-four players will be a part of that group, and John Wall and Bradley Beal will be two of them. Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports reports Wall will be one of seven point guards selected, a list that includes Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, Ty Lawson, Mike Conley, Kemba Walker and George Hill. Meanwhile, Michael Lee of the Washington Post reports that Beal has also received an invitation.

The quality of players selected can range from legitimate national-team options to practice filler. It remains to be seen where Wall and Beal fall on that spectrum, but it's a good sign that they've been invited.

A roundup of some of the other players reportedly in the mix can be found here on SBNation.com.

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Beal to get X-ray in 'next couple weeks'

Bradley Beal said he may not be cleared for at least another couple weeks from the stress injury he suffered

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Wittman doesn't want three rookies either

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Zach Lowe: Many thought Wiz would have shopped No. 8 pick

A lot of folks around the league expected Washington to shop its first-round pick for some veteran help when that pick was slated in the mid-lottery. It will be interesting to see what the Wiz do now that they're picking third.

Grantland.
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Ernie Grunfeld has some fun with Draft Express

"I think it's a three-player draft. But I won't tell you who that third player is."

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Grunfeld: Wiz unlikely to use both second-round picks

"I don’t think we want to have three rookies on the roster next year. We’ll see what we do with those second-round picks and how they could become an asset. Maybe package them to move up a little bit," Grunfeld said. "Most years there is some movement. I’m sure there will be a lot of discussion, a lot of speculation, a lot of rumors flying, but we feel comfortable wherever we end up that we’ll be able to find somebody to help us and do some things for us."

Via Michael Lee of the Washington Post.
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Beal still not cleared after stress injury

It's been nearly seven weeks and Bradley Beal still isn't cleared to return to basketball-related activities after shutting it down due to a stress injury in his right fibula.

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Beal sort of, but not really, calls out Rose

The Washington Wizards' guard gave an honest, nuanced answer on whether he'd lose respect for a teammate if he did what Derrick Rose did with his torn ACL this season. He eventually had to apologize for it.

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Steven Adams on the Wizards

"They're real cool," Adams said of the Wizards' staff, including coach Randy Wittman and GM Ernie Grunfeld. "I felt comfortable when we talked about New Zealand. Apparently one of the dudes' daughters lives in New Zealand. ... I explained that I like to run. They got John Wall. He's fast. He likes pushing the ball and stuff and I just said that I could help by running with him. ... I'd like to go there, definitely."

Via CSN Washington.
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Beal named first team All-Rookie

No surprise: Bradley Beal made First Team All-Rookie. The Wizards' shooting guard joins Damian Lillard, Anthony Davis, Dion Waiters and Harrison Barnes on the squad. Andre Drummond, Jonas Valanciunas, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kyle Singler and Tyler Zeller are on the second team.

Twenty-eight coaches put Beal on the first team. One had him on the second team. Lillard was the only unanimous first-team selection.

And now, for amusement's sake, here's a look at the number of points each rookie in the first round earned in the voting. First-teamers are bolded. Those shut out are italicized.

  1. Anthony Davis: 57.
  2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: 29.
  3. Bradley Beal: 57.
  4. Dion Waiters: 50.
  5. Thomas Robinson: 0.
  6. Damian Lillard: 58.
  7. Harrison Barnes: 47.
  8. Terrence Ross: 1
  9. Andre Drummond: 35.
  10. Austin Rivers: 0
  11. Meyers Leonard: 0
  12. Jeremy Lamb: 0
  13. Kendall Marshall: 0
  14. John Henson: 0
  15. Maurice Harkless: 14
  16. Royce White: 0
  17. Tyler Zeller: 15
  18. Terrence Jones: 1
  19. Andrew Nicholson: 4
  20. Evan Fournier: 0
  21. Jared Sullinger: 0
  22. Fab Melo: 0
  23. John Jenkins: 1
  24. Jared Cunningham: 0
  25. Tony Wroten: 0
  26. Miles Plumlee: 0
  27. Arnett Moultrie: 0
  28. Perry Jones: 0
  29. Marquis Teague: 0
  30. Festus Ezeli: 1
Valanciunas (No. 5 in 2011) and Singler (No. 33 in 2011) were delayed picks. Alexey Shved (14 points), Chris Copeland (nine points), Brian Roberts (five points) and Pablo Prigioni (one point) were signed free agents. Jae Crowder, Draymond Green and Jeff Taylor (one point each) were the only second-round picks that received consideration.
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Wizards shut out of All-Defense voting

Despite having the league's fifth-best defense, the Washington Wizards got no votes for the All-Defensive Team.

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Ford's latest mock has Len to Wizards

Chad Ford's latest mock draft has the Wizards selecting Alex Len at No. 8 overall.

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Collins with high praise for Wall

In Jason Collins's interview with Bill Simmons on the B.S. Report he had some great things to say about the Wizards organization, his Wizards teammates, and especially about John Wall.

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Beal third in ROY vote

The Washington Wizards' 19-year-old shooting guard finished well behind Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis for the award, but well in front of everyone else.

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Report: Wiz open to keeping Collins

Jason Collins' landmark decision to announce that he is gay prompted ESPN's Marc Stein to ask around the league about whether the impending free agent will have a job next year. All 14 of the clubs surveyed said it would depend completely on his on-court play.

But what about the Wizards? Stein reports that the team would consider bringing him back, but only after dealing with other matters:

Sources close to the situation said that the Washington Wizards, who acquired Collins in February in a trade with Boston, don't have the 7-footer as a free-agent priority as they head into the offseason but have interest in bringing him back depending on how their 2013-14 roster unfolds.

Collins would almost surely sign for the veteran's minimum next year, so it's understandable that he's low on the team's list of priorities. If it's late in the summer and he's still out there, though, I could understand the Wizards keeping him around.

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Ariza gets a second-place DPOY vote

Despite having the league's fifth-best defensive efficiency, the Washington Wizards barely registered a blip on the Defensive Player of the Year voting totals. Trevor Ariza was Washington's lone representative, receiving one second-place vote. Here are the full totals.

Player First-place votes Second-place votes Third-place votes TOTAL POINTS
Marc Gasol 30 16 14 212
LeBron James 18 15 14 149
Serge Ibaka 14 15 7 122
Joakim Noah 13 10 12 107
Tony Allen 9 15 12 102
Tim Duncan 11 11 6 94
Larry Sanders 4 18 16 90
Paul George 8 2 11 57
Andre Iguodala 5 3 9 43
Roy Hibbert 3 5 6 36
Chris Paul 2 2 3 19
Avery Bradley 2 1 2 15
Tyson Chandler 0 3 2 11
Dwight Howard 1 0 4 6
Luol Deng 1 0 1 6
Dwyane Wade 0 1 1 4
Trevor Ariza 0 1 0 3
Jimmy Butler 0 1 0 3
Kenneth Faried 0 1 0 3
Russell Westbrook 0 1 0 3
Mike Conley 0 0 1 1

If I had to pick a representative from the Wizards to make the ballot, I would have chosen Emeka Okafor or Nene. Ultimately, though, the lack of obvious candidates despite the Wizards' defensive success is a testament to the schemes of Randy Wittman.

My hypothetical ballot (I don't have a vote) was Gasol first, Noah second and George third.

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Wall 25th, Beal 29th on Simmons' trade value list

Bill Simmons' NBA trade value columnis always a fun read. This year, he's broken it up into three parts and ranked 50 players. The two Wizards cornerstones show up in Part II, with John Wall coming in at No. 25 and Bradley Beal right behind him at No. 29.

Simmons' section for Wall (hidden in a footnote):

His last 21 games: 24.3 PPG, 8.3 APG, 5.0 RPG, 47-37-79 splits. In other words, GIVE ME A MAX EXTENSION THIS SUMMER! The poor Wizards have to roll the dice there and hope he stays healthy, if only because he's the same age as Damian Lillard. Historically, these decisions have always worked out poorly for the Wizards - and by "poorly," I mean "in ways that turn Wizards fans into alcoholics."

And his section for Beal, who he groups with Damian Lillard.

In general, the 2-guard position has turned into a closer-by-committee of specialty guys. And that's what makes Beal such a commodity: 19 years old, sweet stroke, underrated rebounder, excellent 3-point shooter (48 percent since New Year's Day), hard worker. What am I missing? Other than the Brow, he's my favorite guy from the 2012 draft; only the residual stink of the Washington Professional Basketball Team could derail him.

[...]

So Lillard wasn't a horrendous Rookie of the Year choice, even if I attended last week's Clips-Blazers game and was shocked by how easily Chris Paul abused him on both ends. There's some mild Damon Stoudamire potential here: In 1996, Stoudamire, 22 at the time, won ROY on the 21-win Raptors by going 19 and nine and making 40 percent of his 3s. He never got better. (Poor Damon - we picked on him in both parts of this column.) But I'd bet anything that Beal leapfrogs Lillard on next year's list. Especially because I'm picking next year's list.

Both seem fairly rated to me, though Wall has the potential to be much higher. The five players above Wall: Al Horford, Brook Lopez, Ricky Rubio (yeah, not sure about that one), Tony Parker and Kevin Love.

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Wiz had second-lowest local TV rating

That's according to John Ourand of Sports Business Journal:

This is what happens when the team gets off to a horrendous start, I guess.

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Wall, Beal want a stretch 4

The most interesting thing from Michael Lee's end-of-season wrapupcomes at the very end. Emphasis mine.

Wall and Beal would both like to see the Wizards add a forward who can stretch the defense with his shot.Wall would also like to see the team acquire a scorer/go-to guy off the bench.

I agree with both of them, but it'll be tricky.

Also of note: Wall saying "we need to keep going with veterans and not keep going to the draft and get younger." The Wizards have one first- and two second-round picks. I'd be shocked if they use all three.

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Beware Wizards late-season optimism?

Dan Steinberg compiles some old quotes from previous late-season Wizards "runs" to illustrate why we should be careful to make too much out of this year's strong finish. It's a much-needed reminder to have perspective, even though the Wizards of this year appear very different on the surface.

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Nene's shutdown surprised Wittman

Buried under the headline of Martell Webster, Trevor Ariza, and Nene being shut down for the rest of the season were two "fun" facts about Nene's decision to put himself on the shelf.

1) It was Nene's decision, and when asked about it, Randy Wittman, "News to me."

2) Nene apparently thought that the toll taken on his body this year was so intense that he thought it might be the end of his career:

"I'm going to sit down.... That's not necessary, to play the last two games. For what?

...

I spoke to my wife, my brother, my personal manager. It was so hard to play the way I did. I thought it was the end of my career because it was so painful," Nene said. "I'm glad I (played most of) the season, but the way I suffer I hope never again.

via Nene declares himself out for last two games on CSN [emphasis added]

Nene knows his body better than anyone else, and I think he was totally correct in wanting to shut himself down for these last two games. I do think it's a bit odd that the list above of people he spoke to didn't include "coaching staff" or "trainers," but that's neither here nor there. He's been battling injuries all season, and he shouldn't beat himself up to try to help the team sneak up to the 10th spot.

What does kind of make me think, though, is Nene's thoughts about his injuries being bad enough that he thought about hanging it up for good. What if Nene retired? Everything we've been assuming about this team for the next few years would completely change. Perhaps a topic to tackle another day.

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Beal says he and Wall need to land better

If you're like me, you cringe when you see John Wall and Bradley Beal go down hard after driving to the basket. In this joint interview with CSN Washington's Chris Miller, Beal admitted that both need to improve their landings.

"The biggest thing we can agree on is that we both have bad landings," Beal said. "Like, we don't know how to land worth a crap."

Interesting. Both said they wouldn't stop driving to the basket, but the landing point is something worth considering.

The full video is embedded. (HT: DC Sports Bog)


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Leonsis' 1978 title trophy story isn't true

The Wizards' owner said he had to recover the 1978 championship trophy from a closet in a former employee's house, but as it turns out, that story wasn't true.

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Wall ranked 21st in #NBARank

ESPN is running a mini-version of their annual summer #NBARank feature, for some reason, and the panel has John Wall at No. 21 overall, ahead of Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo. Seems a little high, but there's nothing wrong with a little recognition.

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Argument with Okafor turned Wall's year around

Fed up with his teammate's lethargic play, Emeka Okafor confronted John Wall after the Wizards' one-point loss to the Pistons on February 27. Wall has been a completely different player since.

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Hibbert, Wall make peace after trading barbs

Warning: what I am about to present to you is one of the more pointless stories of the Wizards' season this year.

After ripping apart the Pacers on Saturday, John Wall was asked how he was able to score on such a good defense. His answer?

We talked about it before the game that their bigs were playing soft. My bigs did a great job setting screens. I came out focused tonight and I was able to knock down shots right away.

What Wall meant -- and it was probably (and should have been) clear to everyone in the Wizards' scrum afterwards -- was that the Pacers' big men were not contesting him heavily coming off pick and rolls. By "playing soft," Wall meant that they did not respect his jump shot, like many teams before and after Wall's recent tear, choosing instead to lay back and prevent Wall from attacking the basket. Wall took what the Pacers gave him and scored 37 points.

Someone, whether a reporter or just a friend, must have relayed Wall's comments to Pacers center Roy Hibbert without the context, because this is what Hibbert said about them:

"[Washington] went out there and they played hard. John Wall was determined to get around our "soft" bigs, I guess," he said. "You have to tip your hat off to those guys. They're changing their season around before they go fishing.

"[Wall] can say what he wants to say. He's entitled to it. He's a good player. We have a chance to compete for a championship. They have a chance to compete for the No.1 pick."

Hibbert responded as if he himself was being called "soft," a pejorative term that would upset any big man. But Wall was not calling Hibbert soft at all. He was saying that Hibbert and the Pacers' other bigs defended the pick and roll soft. This is common NBA lingo for laying back and conceding the jump shot to protect the basket.

Thankfully, the two have come to an understanding:

So that's over.

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King finally gets Hall of Fame call

At long last, New York Knicks star and onetime Washington Bullet Bernard King has been elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. This honor is long overdue, so congratulations to King for the selection.

King joins Gary Payton, Rick Pitino, Jerry Tarkanian and a slew of others in the Class of 2013.

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Grantland: Right elbow key to Wall's success

Kirk Goldsberry writes on Grantlandthat John Wall's improvement can be tied to his mid-range shooting, specifically his proficiency from the right elbow. Here's a graphic:

Grant_r_goldsberry_johnwallikeyimprovement_medium

It's not a surprise to us, but the graphics still paint a cool picture.


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Crawford: 'I don't recall playing for Washington'

Jordan Crawford will play his first game against his former team when the Celtics welcome the Wizards to Boston on Sunday, but he doesn't seem willing to remember that time in his career. Via the Boston Globe:

Jordan Crawford will face his former team, the Washington Wizards, on Sunday at TD Garden.

"Who?" Crawford asked before practice Saturday when the issue was broached.

Washington, he was told. You'll be playing Washington. Your old team.

"I don't recall playing for Washington," Crawford responded -- and he used this line twice.

Clearly, he's still not happy with how his final days in D.C. went.

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How the '78 title trophy was recovered

Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post tells the story of the 1978 Washington Bullets championship team that will be honored at halftime of Saturday's game against the Indiana Pacers.

The lede is pretty incredible. Apparently, the championship trophy was stored in the late equipment manager's old house for many years. Ted Leonsis had to go find it and polish it up before bringing it back to Verizon Center.

"They bring it in," Leonsis recalled this week, "and it's got dings in it, it's matted, not shiny. My wife [Lynn] is best friends with the woman who runs Tiffany's in Tysons Corner, so I asked her to look at it, and I said, ‘Look at this - this is what we spend a billion dollars over our lifetime to try to win, and it's been sitting in someone's closet. Can you fix it?' It took about three months, but it came back perfect."

Kind of amazing that's how the trophy was treated for so many years. Kudos to Leonsis and all that were involved in recovering it.

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Okafor, Ariza won't opt out

Both players confirmed that they will play out the final year of their contracts instead of exercising early-termination clauses.

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Stress injury in fibula ends Beal's season

The Wizards' rookie will not play in the team's final eight games due to a stress injury in his right fibula. Did this injury happen because of his previous ankle problems?

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Okafor: 'My plan is to be here next year'

Emeka Okafor told CSN Washington that he expects to stay in D.C. next season, but that doesn't necessarily mean he'll be here on the final year of his existing contract.

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Wizards shooting for 9th place

The Wizards are essentially eliminated from the playoffs, so they've set a new goal for the final nine games of the season: finish in ninth place. Via Michael Lee of the Washington Post:

"That's kind of what we've talked the last three weeks. There's different ways to keep motivation. I want these guys to think that this is still a playoff race," [Randy] Wittman said as the Wizards prepare to host the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday at Verizon Center. "I think if we could to that, it would be a hell of an accomplishment for these guys, to be 4-28 with all the injuries we had to miss the playoffs by one spot."

The Wizards are currently in 10th place in the East, three games behind ninth-place Philadelphia and a half game ahead of 11th-place Toronto.

Shooting for ninth seems counterproductive in a league that rewards teams that either win big or lose a lot in the draft, but Wittman said he wants to simulate a playoff experience so that the team is prepared next year if they're fighting for seeding.

Let the tanking debate begin.

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Wall names 8 point guards better than him

John Wall did a wide-ranging interview with David Aldridge of NBA.com (scroll down) last night. During the interview, Wall and Aldridge collectively named eight point guards that are currently better than the Wizards' third-year man.

"You've got Chris Paul, Russell [Westbrook]," he said Sunday night. "Derrick [Rose] right now. I'd say Kyrie [Irving]'s up there, doing pretty good. I like [Portland's] Damian Lillard. I'd say he's up there in that category. He's playing out of his mind, to play like he's a rookie. I feel like those years in college really helped him. I feel like they'd be the top."

He agrees, when Rajon Rondo's name is mentioned, that Rondo is better. He goes along with Denver's Ty Lawson, and volunteers Golden State's Stephen Curry. And that's the list. Eight better.

(Tony Parker is not mentioned; I'd guess that's an oversight).

That all leads into a discussion of whether Wall is truly a max-contract player. Aldridge concludes that Wall should get a five-year deal that's slightly less than the max.

One other takeaway: Wall strongly endorsed the additions of Martell Webster, Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza. Wall said those players care about winning and gave him confidence to shoot freely, unlike previous teammates that "weren't very professional about their job."

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Stan Van Gundy has a change of heart on Wall

Van Gundy sounds like he has changed his tune about Wall and the Wizards.

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Payton: Wall reached out to me

Yesterday, Holly MacKenzie had a fantastic Q&A with Gary Payton on Grantland. Perhaps the best part of the piece--in the eyes of the Wizards community--was this nugget at the end about Payton's relationship with John Wall.


[MacKenzie]: Which current guys, besides the ones you work with, do you enjoy watching?

[Payton]: I like Blake [Griffin], he dunks a lot; I love Jamal [Crawford], he’s doing the crossover, he’s doing the old-school stuff. A guy that I really like is [John] Wall from Washington. Yeah. That’s becoming one of my guys. One of my kids. He tweeted me and asked for my number and I called him and we’ve been tight ever since. He’s a kid where I like him because he called me to ask me how to get better at playing defense and how to become a good point guard. That’s the type of stuff I'm saying. Some of these kids nowadays their egos are too big to go to old-school guys and say, "I need to know about my ability and how can I get better." Once he did that, it was a lock for me and him to become really close.

via Q&A: Gary Payton on Coaching, Playing Against John Stockton, and the Art of Talking Trash - The Triangle Blog - Grantland

We'd known for some time that Wall and Payton have a relationship, but we didn't know that it was Wall who initiated contact. And on Twitter of all places! Kids today, amirite?

Not only is it great to see Wall's game improve, but it's almost equally great to see him reach out to past point guards to educate himself and continue to build his confidence. Payton's praise about Wall's lack of ego is especially refreshing, considering egos used to be a dime a dozen in this team.

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Wiz to honor '78 title team on April 6

The Wizards will honor their 1978 championship team at halftime of the April 6 home game against the Indiana Pacers, the team announced. A new championship banner will be unveiled and several team members, including Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes, will be honored. All this for the 35th anniversary of the team's title.

All fans in attendance will receive a replica championship ring. Here's a picture.

Final_product_medium

Ten players -- Unseld, Hayes, Phil Chenier (obviously), Greg Ballard, Bob Dandridge, Kevin Grevey, Tom Henderson, Joe Pace, Phil Walker and Larry Wright -- will attend, as well as coach Dick Motta, GM Bob Ferry and Irene Pollin.

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Webster offers more Wizards praise

Martell Webster has been outspoken about praising the Wizards' organization this year, and that continued following the Wizards' 101-92 loss to the Warriors Saturday. CSN Bay Area's Ric Bucher caught up with Webster after the game, and Webster told him that he has enjoyed the Wizards more than either of his first two NBA stops (Portland and Minnesota):

"It's a great fit for me. I enjoy the atmosphere here: coaching staff, training staff and most important, my teammates. And it's competitive. And very family-oriented. When you have that as an option, it's hard to defer away from that."

Webster added that this is the first time in his career where he's enjoyed "all aspects" of his situation.

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Report: Grunfeld likely to return next year

Ernie Grunfeld is expected to return for the second year of his two-year contract, reports CSN Bay Area's Ric Bucher.

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Jamison reflects on final days in D.C.

Back in 2010, Antawn Jamison reportedly wanted nothing more than to escape the tumultuous Washington Wizards and go to a contender. The Wizards granted his wish and sent him to the Cleveland Cavaliers, which did not work out as anticipated.

Now, three years later, Jamison is preparing to do battle with the Wizards as a member of the Lakers, and he's in a reflective mood about his time in D.C. In an interview with Michael Lee of the Washington Post, Jamison admitted that he should have stuck it out with the Wizards instead of asking for a trade. He also implied that the organization should have been more patient in responding to all the turmoil in 2010.

"If one or two incidents would not have happened, that organization would be totally different. Which two incidents, I couldn't tell you," said Jamison, who has been reunited with Jordan, a Lakers assistant. "Our problem was outside distractions dictated the future of that organization. If we would've kept the reins a little tighter, if we would've done things the way it was supposed to be done, that organization would be one of the top organizations of having that consistency, eight or nine years still making the playoffs and contending. I truly believe that. One or two incidents started everything over."

I would think that the two incidents were the Gilbert Arenas gun saga and the firing of Eddie Jordan, but it's also possible Jamison is speaking about things that never got reported.

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Kobe, Pau likely to play vs. Wizards Friday

We shouldn't look too far ahead, but it appears the Wizards will be getting a fully-healthy Lakers squad when the two teams square off on Friday.

Kobe Bryant has barely played since turning his ankle in a controversial play against the Hawks a week ago. Pau Gasol, meanwhile, has not suited up since suffering a foot injury on February 6 against the Nets.

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Wall would be 'hurt' if no extension by October

Yesterday was apparently John Wall Max Contract Interview Day. On the heels of a CSN Washington report that "signals point" to Wall getting a max contract, Wall told Michael Lee of the Washington Post that he would be "hurt" if he didn't receive a new deal this summer.

"I would be hurt. I feel like anybody should that feels like they are a franchise guy and proven themselves and still working to develop and get better. But this is a business and you have to deal with the stuff that comes with it and goes with it. I leave that up to those guys, but I love playing for D.C. I love this team, my staff, my teammates."

Wall is eligible to receive an extension this summer that would kick in before the 2014-15 season. Because of NBA rules, the Wizards have exclusive rights to negotiate with Wall from July 1 to October 31. If the Wizards and Wall cannot work out a new deal before then, he will become a restricted free agent after the 2013-14 season.

Lee reports that the Wizards have "budgeted to keep Wall with the organization for a long time," but that's not exactly news. Of course you would plan on keeping Wall for a long time. As discussed yesterday, the question is price (max or no max) and timing.

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Washington Examiner will shut down in June

Some sad news on the Wizards beat: the Washington Examiner is reportedly shutting down its daily publication and becoming a political magazine. That means all the sports staffers, including Wizards beat writer Craig Stouffer, will be laid off in June.

This will mark the second big departure from the Wizards beat this season. Carla Peay left the beat when the Washington Times closed its sports section several months ago.

Stouffer will finish out the year, but unless some other publication pops up, that leaves only Michael Lee of the Washington Post and J Michael of CSN Washington as the two regular non-wire, non-blogger beat writers covering the team, though there are several other writers that attend games.

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'Signals point' to Wall getting a max deal?

One report suggests that "all the signals point" to John Wall receiving a maximum contract extension, but this report yields many more questions than answers.

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Wall is East's Player of the Week

John Wall's big performances in games against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks, New Orleans Hornets and Phoenix Suns earned him the Eastern Conference Player of the Week award, the league announced. Wall averaged 24 points, 11 assists and five rebounds during this stretch.

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Wall has talked to Ted about bringing Martell back

Martell Webster's splendid season continued Saturday night with a 34-point effort in the Wizards' 127-105 win over the Phoenix Suns. Afterwards, John Wall admitted to the assembled media that he had spoken to owner Ted Leonsis about the importance of re-signing the free-agent-to-be.

Via Craig Stouffer of the Washington Examiner:

"I already talked to [Wizards owner] Ted [Leonsis] about that one," Wall said. "That's an easy hands down question about trying to get him back here because him being a free agent. There's a lot of people that are going to come after him, especially after the season he had this year and is having."

Webster admitted that while "this is a business, so we'll see what happens," he's having an "extraordinary" time here and thinks his teammates are "really freakin' awesome." A month and a half ago, Webster told Bullets Forever that this season with the Wizards has been "the most fun I've had in my career."

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Blatche would take less to make Wiz pay more

Former Washington Wizards big man Andray Blatche is in a unique situation next summer. He is a free agent because his one-year minimum contract with the Brooklyn Nets expires, and yet he still is being paid $7.8 million next year and $8.5 million the year after from the Wizards after being released with the amnesty clause last summer.

Because he's still cashing those checks, Blatche will not make the full value of whatever his new contract ends up being due to a complicated league formula explained here by Nets Daily.

Under the formula, laid out in the new collective bargaining agreement, the key is the "offset" amount, the reduction that a player's old team gets when he signs with a new team. It is not straight dollar-for-dollar. Instead, it is equal to one half the difference between the player's salary with his new team and the minimum for a one-year veteran player. Vets minimum numbers depend on a player's time in the league, the more years, the higher the minimum. So the formula at its most basic is (new salary - vet minimum for 1 yr player) / 2 = set off amount + new salary = total player salary.

So in 2012-13, Andray Blatche's numbers work out like this:

Offset Amount ($1,146,337- $762,195) / 2 = $192,971
Washington Pays $7,118,502 - 192,071= $6,926,431
Brooklyn Pays $1,146,337
Total Salary $6,926,431 + $1,146,337 = $8,072,768
Blatche makes $954,266 more than his original contract with Washington

Based on that formula, if Blatche signs a contract worth $3 million next year, he'll only make a little more than $1 million, with the rest of his payments coming from the Wizards.

Because of that, Blatche really doesn't care that much about the money value of his next deal. The more money he makes on it, the less the Wizards have to pay.

And ... as you might expect, he's very aware of that. Via the New York Daily News:

"If I get a lot (in my next contract), yeah, it's going to take pressure off the Wizards," he said. "But that's why I'm not going to do that."

Guess he's still mad, then.

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ESPN: Wall second-most 'indispensable' PG

Amin Elhassen of ESPN Insider makes a pretty bold claim: John Wall is the second-most important point guard in the league, relative to his own team. Here's the blurb:

While Derrick Rose takes Chicago from good to elite, Wall has shown this season that he can take abysmal to playoff-level production. Since Jan. 12 (Wall's first game back), the Wizards have the second-best defensive efficiency in the league (96.8), and have gone from minus-7.3 point differential to plus-2.8 (11th in NBA in that span).

The Wizards' record with Wall has been a solid 15-13; without him, they were hurtling toward a worst-in-league record at 5-28. Wall's breathtaking athleticism, particularly in the open court, allows him to get into the paint repeatedly and wreak havoc by converting at the rim or finding teammates. But Wall's impact is greater felt on the defensive end, where his length and agility allow him to be a versatile defender on the perimeter. Going into a contract extension summer, Wall's agent will have a large amount of data to point to as evidence that his client is pivotal to success in Washington.

It's true that the Wizards have been much better since Wall returned from injury, but I think Elhassen is blending correlation with causation with some of these numbers. Other players have improved dramatically, namely Bradley Beal, and suggesting Wall is responsible for all of that is misleading.

Also, I'm not sure I can buy an opinion that suggests Wall is a good perimeter defender. Good defensive tools? Yes, but as we've seen several times, that hasn't often translated to good on-ball defense.

Nevertheless, good to see some positive pixels.

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Livingston critical of Wizards' organization

Former Washington Wizards point guard Shaun Livingston has found a home in Cleveland as the backup (and now starter) to Kyrie Irving. Livingston had a second stint with the Wizards prior to signing in Cleveland, but he was ineffective and was released in late December. The Cavaliers picked him up and have reaped the benefits.

Recently, Livingston was critical of the Wizards' organization, suggesting it had "a lack of structure from an organizational standpoint."* On the day of his first game against Washington since, he elaborated a bit on those comments. Via Michael Lee:

"The structure, system wasn't necessarily...it's tough to elaborate without really going overboard," Livingston said. "It's just sometimes I think I work a little better with more structure and the personnel, sometimes you play better with certain guys that put you in position to succeed and I wasn't necessarily able do that for the team. I don't think my skill set was being utilized to help guys. For whatever reason. I can't put the blame on the coaches. Sometimes the players and chemistry didn't fit as well."

Later, he said that while he liked the Wizards' coaches, he noted that "sometimes it takes both management and the coaching staff to be on the same page."

Was that a shot at Wizards' GM Ernie Grunfeld, who released him? Was that a fair observation at the general atmosphere in D.C.? Or is it just sour grapes that Livingston walked into a team that lacked its most important players and was forced to play a role he couldn't play?

*: I searched around and never found that quote, outside of Lee's story today, so if anyone knows where it came from, please post it in the comments.

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Vesely searches for confidence

It's hard not to feel for Jan Vesely on some level after reading Michael Lee's feature story in the Washington Post today. In it, Vesely admitted that he's struggled mentally with his benching and has sometimes not been as ready to play as he should have.

My favorite line, though, came from A.J. Price:

"The only part of his game that he's struggling, is mental. Has nothing to do with his skills," said Price, who had a long talk with Vesely before a recent shoot-around. "I was just trying to tell him to find something - a safe haven, almost - and say, ‘I'm going to play for that.' I told him play for his girl. I know that's one person I see him all the time with."

Whatever works, you know.

The bigger issue: Vesely just doesn't seem to be as good a player as the Wizards thought when they picked him so high in the draft.

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(Probably) No Beal vs. Cavs

It doesn't sound like Bradley Beal will be in the lineup when the Wizards take on the Cavaliers on Tuesday.

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Wall feels he's a max-contract player

Grantland's Zach Lowe, one of the very best hoops writers the Internet has to offer, published a complete transcript of a one-on-one interview he did with John Wall prior to Friday's game against the Brooklyn Nets. In the interview, Wall said that he thinks he is good enough to merit a max contract.

Have you started thinking about your contract extension talks yet?

I haven't started thinking about that.

Really? The deadline isn't that far away.

That's true. Look, I'm just enjoying D.C. This hasn't been going the way we wanted it to, in terms of winning, but I think we are building something here.

Do you feel like you deserve a max contract? That you're a max guy?

I feel like I am. I do, definitely.

Now, I wouldn't read too much into this. Lowe asked Wall the question straight-up, and Wall isn't going to say he doesn't deserve a max contract. But as Lowe notes earlier, the deadline for an early extension is approaching (the end of October, to be specific), and the five-year max is a tough sell at this point.

There's a lot more to the interview, particularly on the technical side with Wall's defense and perimeter shot. The whole thing is absolutely worth a read.

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Beal hopes to play vs. Bobcats

Bradley Beal is hoping his ankle injury will be healthy enough for him to play in Saturday's game against the Bobcats. Here's what he told Michael Lee of the Washington Post last night:

"I'm feeling better," Beal said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to give it a go. I'll come in a little earlier [on Saturday], treat it a little, and see how it feels before."

It remains to be seen if that treatment helped enough.

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Wall tells Washingtonian he sees the criticism

Washingtonian has a full spread on John Wall in the March edition of their magazine. The piece, authored by Edward G. Robinson III, a journalist that covered Wall in high school, reveals few new nuggets, but is a good read nonetheless. Practically speaking, this quote was most important to me:

This is why Wall believes he can help the Wizards-he's already conquered his fear and anger, already delivered himself from a deep hole. After two solid but not showstopping pro seasons, he hears the whispers about whether he's the player to guide the team.

"I like it," Wall says. "That's motivation for me.

"Everybody is looking at me like, ‘Well, his first two seasons was the same. Can he be a franchise savior?' I see it on ESPN all the time. ‘Is he a franchise player? Would you trust him with your team?' I know I would trust myself with this team."

Those that follow Wall closely know a lot of the details surrounding his background, but the piece does a nice job tying them in to the present. Go check it out.

(As first spotted by PrimeTimeMitch).

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Why the Wiz moved Buck and Phil off the floor

Nine days ago, Wizards announcers Steve Buckhantz and Phil Chenier were all over the Internet for thinking that a last-second Trevor Ariza air-balled three-pointer actually went in against the Detroit Pistons.

One common explanation: the Wizards' decision to move the pairing off the floor and higher up in Section 110 caused the confusion. Buckhantz himself has reiterated that while he's happy to broadcast games from anywhere, he wouldn't have messed up that call if he had been on the floor.

So, why did the Wizards do that? Dan Steinberg did some reporting to figure out just how much revenue was gained by having more courtside seats instead of Buckhantz and Chenier's broadcast table:

The benefits for the Wizards aren't slight. Moving radio and then TV broadcasts off the floor created 16 new "Owner's Club" seats, eight between the scorer's table and each team bench. Those seats sell for $1,500 a game as part of a season-ticket package, and grant access to the remodeled Owner's Club. The team sold the entire allotment this year, bringing in about $1 million.

And there's probably no going back. A team spokesman said the broadcasters would be unlikely to move back to the floor, citing the economic benefits of additional premium seating.

The Wizards are the second NBA team to move both the home and road television broadcasters off the floor, joining the Philadelphia 76ers. Twenty-four of the 30 NBA teams have both on the floor. Several radio broadcasters, including the Wizards', have been moved up around the league to make room for more courtside seats.

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Wall loves the right elbow

Here's a crazy screenshot of John Wall's shot chart from new Grantland intern Danny Chau:

2eksqrs_medium

Ignore all the red for a second (as well as the 53 percent at the rim, which is bad) and just focus on that one plot of green. When Wall shoots mid-range jumpers from the right elbow, he scores more often than he doesn't. When he shoots from straight on, he rarely scores. When he shoots from the left elbow, he almost never scores. When he shoots from the right corner, he also almost never scores.

Why is this? I have my theories and will probably be tracking this on Synergy in the coming days, but I'm curious to hear your thoughts.

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Beal doubtful for T-Wolves game

The rookie guard is off crutches, but his sprained left ankle will most likely keep him out of Wednesday's road contest against the T-Wolves.

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Flip told Ted to 'clean out' knucklehead culture

Former Washington Wizards coach, current ESPN analyst and potential future Minnesota Timberwolves GM Flip Saunderswas on ESPN 980 the other day, and he told Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro that he was vocal with Ted Leonsis about the need to "clean out some of that knucklehead." A transcript, via DC Sports Bog:

"I was a proponent from day one of changing that whole atmosphere. Having been in situations where we had success in both Detroit and in Minnesota, we didn't have that... When I was there, I made my feelings pretty well known. And actually when I left - and had meetings with Ted Leonsis when I left - I pretty much said the same thing: that the team is not gonna take any type of steps until you clean out some of that knucklehead - like you said - the knucklehead factor and get everyone more on the same page."

Saunders has said some of these things before, but never so specifically. He also strongly implied that the decision not to suspend Andray Blatche when he refused to go back in after Saunders chewed him out during a March, 2010 game was not his call.

Check out the full transcript, it's interesting stuff.

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Wizards to play preseason game in Brazil in 2013

The Washington Wizards will make history next preseason when they travel to Rio de Janeiro to face the Chicago Bulls, the team announced. The game will be the first-ever preseason contest played in Brazil and is part of the NBA's Global Games initiative.

Nene's presence on the team made Brazil an obvious spot for the Wizards to play.

"It was very nice news and it's a huge step for South America basketbal to represent my team and my Wizards," Nene said, via Monumental Network.

This is one of eight preseason games that will be played overseas next season. The full list is as follows:

2013-14 NBA Global Games Schedule:

GAMES

DATE

LOCATION

ARENA

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul

Oct. 5

Istanbul, Turkey

Ulker Sports Arena

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Uxue Bilbao Basket

Oct. 6

Bilbao, Spain

Bizkaia Arena at the BEC

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Oct. 8

Manchester, England

Manchester Arena

Houston Rockets vs. Indiana Pacers

Oct. 10

Manila, Philippines

Mall of Asia Arena

Houston Rockets vs. Indiana Pacers

Oct. 13

Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei Arena

Chicago Bulls vs. Washington Wizards

Oct. 12

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

HSBC Arena

Golden State Warriors vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Oct. 15

Beijing, China

MasterCard Center

Golden State Warriors vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Oct. 18

Shanghai, China

Mercedes-Benz Arena

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Wall: Some old Wizards didn't want him to succeed

There's a pretty stunning nugget at the end of Jason Reid's latest column on Bradley Beal in the Washington Post. Take it away, John Wall (emphasis mine):

Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld deserves some credit for creating a good environment for Beal. Wall's development suffered because of unprofessionalism in the locker room. "When I came in . . . some of my teammates didn't want me to succeed," Wall said.

Grunfeld finally cleaned out the locker room.

"Now, you have a guy like Emeka [Okafor], who has been to the playoffs, Nene, who has been to the playoffs, and Trevor [Ariza], who has won a championship. They know what it takes," Wall said. "Now, all of us here want everybody to succeed. That's a big difference."

Of course, given that Grunfeld was the same person that brought in all of the teammates that supposedly didn't want Wall to succeed, I'm not sure how much credit he should get.

I wonder who those teammates were. Anyone want to play the guessing game?

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Nene a game-time decision vs. Knicks

Just as he was on Wednesday, Nene will be a game-time decision when the Wizards square off with the Knicks on Friday. Here's Randy Wittman speaking about Nene's situation at shootaround, via Monumental Network:

"He's warming up and we'll see how it feels," Wittman said. "Hopefully it's good."

Nene injured his shoulder during the Wizards' 90-84 win over the Raptors Monday.

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Wittman (sort of) clarifies minutes comments

The Wizards' coach went into more detail about why he was so upset at his players complaining about minutes during their loss to the Pistons.

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Sheppard: SportVU data can be overwhelming

In advance of this week's Sloan Sports Analytics Conference (which Amin is attending), Slate came out with a pretty silly* article about how data has become so proprietary that it's neutered the academic study of these concepts. In the piece, Tommy Sheppard, the Wizards' longtime vice president of basketball administration, gives an interesting quote about SportVU, the camera service that the Wizards and 14 other teams use to track pretty much everything that occurs on the floor in a given game.

"It's like saying you're going to Wal-Mart or Ikea to get something," offers Tommy Sheppard, the Washington Wizards vice president of basketball administration. "You better know what you want, or you're going to walk out with a ton of shit."

That's about a good an analogy as I've heard from anyone.

*: Why did I think the piece was silly? All this time, fans want their teams to embrace "advanced stats," whatever those are. Now that they have in the NBA, it's suddenly a problem that they want to keep the data to themselves? We can't have it both ways, folks.

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Webster: Early-season Wiz 'never tried' buying in

Washington Wizards coach Randy Wittman has earned his players' respect, but did he have it when the season started?

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Okafor, Nene leading Wizards' D

Tuesday is apparently "National Media Writes About The Wizards" day. In this piece, Sports Illustrated's Rob Mahoneywrites about the Wizards' elite defense, ranked in the top 10 all season and in the top five since John Wall's return. Mahoney attributes most of the unit's success to the tandem of Emeka Okafor and Nene.

Over those last 15 games, Washington has planted a flag as the second best defensive team in the league. Suffice to say that success doesn't all hinge on Wall; the real epicenter of Washington's highly functional defense is, unsurprisingly, its big men. Nene and Emeka Okafor have become a truly fantastic defensive tandem, capable of corralling ball handlers and protecting the rim as a joint operation. Nene can trap hard on a screen if need be, or help out to block shots on the backline. Okafor can take a perfect angle in defending the pick-and-roll, or step up to challenge a shot at the rim if the on-ball defense breaks down. Their combined defensive skill makes them virtually interchangeable, and thus incredibly valuable to a defense that gives its perimeter players a ton of help in controlling ball action on the perimeter.

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Is Beal's turnaround due to Wall's return?

CBS Sports' Zach Harper had an interesting piece today noting the impact of John Wall on Bradley Beal's improvement. As Harper noted, Beal is shooting 49 percent on threes this season with Wall on the court, as opposed to 35 percent with him not in the game. He also dug into the numbers deeper:

In the first 33 games of the season, Beal was assisted on 95.5 percent of his corner 3-pointers and 85.7 percent of his above-the-break 3-point makes. Since Wall's return, every single 3-pointer Beal has made has been assisted. Every single one. Fourteen of Beal's 32 made 3-pointers have been assisted by Wall directly, and 26.5 percent of his made shots overall have been assists from Wall since the point guard's return. Previously, Jordan Crawford and Price were tied with assisting Beal on 11.1 percent of his makes before the turnaround.

Is the case so clear-cut, though? As blog friend Kevin Broom noted on Twitter, Beal's shooting percentages with A.J. Pricein the game since January 1 have been essentially the same as with Wall in the game. (Here are charts to prove it). The sample size is small in either case, but it at least makes one wonder whether it's fair to attribute Beal's jump completely to Wall's return.

My take: both sides have fair points. Beal was starting to get better before Wall returned, but Wall's presence has helped clarify roles and make everyone play more within their comfort zone, which has also helped Beal tremendously.

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Some love for Nene's versatility

Grantland's Zach Lowe is probably the best NBA writer you'll read, and in his weekly Tuesday feature, he showed some love for Nene's versatility.

It's easy to forget what a wonderful, multi-skilled player Nene is, with so much focus on his contract and his health. But, holy cow, is this guy good at just about everything - passing, cutting, screening, guarding in space, hitting open midrange jumpers, explosive post-up moves, boxing out, etc. My new favorite wrinkle: Washington has been using Nene as a ball handler in surprise pick-and-rolls it springs on defenses from unpredictable places. Watch out when a Wiz point guard enters the ball to Nene at the left elbow and cuts toward the foul line as if he's going to continue toward the baseline - a standard NBA action. Just when the defense assumes the normal NBA stuff is coming, that point guard will veer right into Nene's man, setting a pick for Nene to use on a dribble drive toward the hoop. He got a monster jam against the Raptors over the weekend out of this action.

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Nene fought through shoulder pain vs. Raptors

In a season of bumps and bruises for Nene, you can apparently add one more to the list. Via Michael Lee's recap of Monday's win over the Raptors:

Nene shook his head as he peeled off an ice pack from his right shoulder that was so sore that he struggled to lift it above his head after the Washington Wizards' 90-84 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Monday night.

Laughing to himself with befuddlement, Nene had no explanation for how he carried the Wizards in the fourth quarter despite a sharp pain that forced him to wince after every made basket or free throw.

This might explain why Nene was so quiet prior to the fourth quarter. Hopefully, this is just the normal pain players have after games and not the sign of any sort of future injury.

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Report: Clips nixed Ariza for Caron trade

This qualifies as a David Aldridge bomb:

L.A. and Washington had a done deal Wednesday night that would have sent forward Trevor Ariza to the Clippers in exchange for Caron Butler, giving L.A. a long, defensive-oriented body to throw at the likes of Kevin Durant in the playoffs. (Butler, who still has an offseason home in the D.C. area, and who was loved by the locals, didn't have a problem returning to a non-Arenas Wizards locker room. He'd have been welcomed back as a much-needed offensive option, according to sources.)

But sources indicated that Clippers owner Donald Sterling nixed the deal Thursday morning, not wanting to gamble on the team's chemistry being affected in any way down the stretch.

Butler and Ariza have similar contracts for the same length. Would you have wanted Caron Butler to come back to D.C.? This certainly is very intriguing. I'm honestly not sure what to think about this one.

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Wittman, Karl discuss Crawford trade

WASHINGTON -- Randy Wittman spoke more about the Washington Wizards' decision to trade Jordan Crawford to the Boston Celtics, and while he repeated many of the points made at shootaround, he did go into more detail about the decision.

Wittman was asked whether he was disappointed by Crawford's behavior after his benching.

"I'm not going to get into those kinds of things, [but] I do observe that," he said. "That is a big part of being a part of a team. How do you handle adversity. It's important for all our guys. Roles fluctuate. In this business, you've got to stay committed no matter if it's happening good for you or not. That applies to all our guys. Being in this league as long as I have, you see guys that have been in this league 13-14 years just because they took that approach."

I asked Wittman if he would have done anything differently to reach Crawford if he had the chance to do it all over again.

"You always, as a coach, look back and evaluate yourself, evaluate how you evaluate your players, all that stuff. That'll never change with me, whether it's how I conducted a game, how I substituted, how I develop a player, sure. Those are all things you look at," he said.

George Karl was also asked how he'd have handled a player like Crawford, an especially good question because Karl coached J.R. Smith for so many years.

"There's positive energy and there's negative energy. From the recollection that I feel, there was so much negative energy because of the situation and how it was handled, where it was going and how it was coming, he probably made it very difficult for them to keep him on the team. But there is a need for his talent. Being able to score points as quickly as he can score is a really powerful thing," he said.

Karl later added that he and Smith wore each other out after a while because "you're managing negative energy rather than managing positive energy."

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Wittman and Grunfeld on Crawford's departure

You know how we at Bullets Forever feel about the trade, and for the most part, we know how all of you feel, too.

Ernie Grunfeld spoke to reporters last night at 7pm (a notice to all reporters was sent at 6:45pm, for whatever it's worth), and Randy Wittman spoke after shootaround today. Both shared their thoughts about Crawford's future, the team's future, and why the two weren't really meshing.

First, Grunfeld:


On the reasons for the trade: "Our team has started to come together. Our chemistry has been real good. Our defensive intensity has improved and we’re one of the best defensive teams in the league during that stretch. We’re moving the basketball on the offensive end and we’re hoping that we can continue on that. And Jordan did not fit into our current plans for that, or our future plans. At this time, we thought it was in the best interest of everyone if we make this trade. It will be a good situation for Jordan. He might get an opportunity to go to a better team and help them and it will allow us to continue on the path that we’re trying to build in the locker room, with work ethic and team play, where everybody is on the same page and wanting to play for the same reasons. Being unselfish offensively and playing good aggressive defense."

On why Crawford didn’t fit: "If you’ve been watching our games, he hasn’t played that much lately and over the last 20 games or so his minutes have gone down and he wanted a bigger role. It wasn’t what he really wanted in that situation and we felt like our future was going to be with John Wall, Bradley Beal. Jordan got a lot more minutes early in the season when John was out with an injury and Brad was learning. John is back obviously and Brad is starting to come on and we feel like they were going to get the majority of the minutes going forward."

On what changed after acquiring Crawford two years ago from Atlanta: "Jordan, nothing really changed. He had some good moments, but the way we’re playing now is a lot different than then. Now we’re a defensive oriented team and our numbers especially over the last 20 games have shown that we’re one of the top defensive teams in the league. The ball movement has been really good recently and that’s helped us win some games. The players are playing the right way and trying to execute. They’ve been supportive of one another and it just seems like it wasn’t the perfect fit for Jordan at this time."

Ernie Grunfeld: "By no means are we satisfied with where we are" |The Washington Post's Michael Lee

Second, Wittman:

It’s just a situation, with John [Wall] coming back, the development of Bradley [Beal], the emergence of Martell [Webster], and Trevor [Ariza] playing and giving us what he is, it was a situation from a minutes standpoint that wasn’t satisfactory for him. I felt we had a good thing going from our rhythm and playing and winning and doing things the right way and defending, that his role changed a little bit, and the minutes weren’t going to quite be the same. I think he had a hard time with that. We felt this was the best thing to do moving forward.

...

There was still a situation for him to play and be a part. It wasn’t going be probably the significant minutes that he wanted.

Randy Wittman on trading Jordan Crawford | The Washington Examiner's Craig Stouffer

Here's my personal favorite quote from Grunfeld:

"A lot of positive things have happened but by no means are we satisfied with where we are."

Go ahead and check out each piece to get the full rundown of comments.

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Report: Wilcox was in original JC deal

The Washington Wizards ultimately traded Jordan Crawford to the Boston Celtics for Jason Collins and Leandro Barbosa, but if it were up to them, they would have taken Chris Wilcox instead. However, Wilcox apparently didn't want to come to D.C.

Wilcox is one of several players on his second consecutive one-year minimim-salary contract. Due to a salary-cap quirk, such players lose their Bird Rights in any trade, so they have veto power over any deal. The clause is colloquially known as the Devean George rule, because the little-used Mavericks forward famously used the clause to hold up a trade that would have sent Jason Kidd to Dallas several years ago. Three years ago, James Singleton had the opportunity to use his veto power to hold up the trade that sent Caron Butler to Dallas, but decided to allow the trade to be completed.

The trade needed one more minimum-salary player because a straight up swap of Crawford for Barbosa would not have worked salary-wise. Therefore, the Celtics were forced to throw in Collins.

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EG: Crawford 'not in our plans', current or future

In an interview with Casey Phillips of Monumental Network, Washington Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld reiterated that the Wizards had simply decided to move on from Jordan Crawford and preferred to deal him elsewhere as soon as they could.

"Jordan is not in our plans, current plans for the present or the future," Grunfeld said. "The team over the last 20 games has really started to come together. Our defense has been one of the top defenses in the league over that span. Our chemistry has been top-notch, and we wanted to make sure we could continue on that path."

Grunfeld reiterated the same stance with reporters in a news conference and hinted at Crawford's frustrations with his current status on the team.

Clearly, there was some dysfunction taking place behind the scenes that became too much to overcome. However, it does feel like the Wizards should have been more proactive in anticipating a potential attitude problem with Crawford when his role was inevitably going to be reduced.

More Jordan Crawford trade coverage:

Roundtable: Saying goodbye to Steez

The (non)-cap implications

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Report: Wizards preferred savings to Melo

Michael Lee of the Washington Post reports that the Celtics initially offered Fab Melo to the Wizards in the Jordan Crawford trade, but Washington preferred to take Collins and Barbosa and save more money going forward:

According to a league source, the Celtics offered Fab Melo, a 7-foot rookie from Brazil who appeared in just four games this season. The Wizards, though, had no interest in taking back salary beyond this season, especially for a big man who remains a project. They opted for the financial savings instead.

A breakdown of that savings is here.

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Wizards also getting Jason Collins

The Wizards will also receive Jason Collins in the deal for Jordan Crawford, according to a report.

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Wiz get Barbosa's expiring deal for JC

The Wizards will receive Leandro Barbosa's expiring contract for Jordan Crawford. Barbosa is out for the year with a torn ACL. So, they literally got nothing.

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Crawford traded to Celtics

The Wizards have traded Jordan Crawford to the Boston Celtics, according to a report.

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Wizards' TV ratings tied for second-lowest in NBA

That's according to research by John Ourand of Sports Business Journal. Ourand reports that the Wizards' Regional Sports Network rating is 0.9*, tied for second-worst in the league with the Houston Rockets. Only the Charlotte Bobcats are worse.

The Oklahoma City Thunder, with a 8.6 rating, lead the way.

*: An RSN rating of 0.9 means that, on average, just 0.9 percent of all households that get Comcast SportsNet are watching Wizards games on CSN.

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Crawford tosses jersey into stands after DNP-CD

WASHINGTON -- If you were hoping that Jordan Crawford was taking his benching well, the events at the end of the Wizards' 96-88 loss to the Toronto Raptors may convince you otherwise. The Wizards' guard spent most of the game lounging on the bench, and then he tossed his jersey into the crowd after the final buzzer. This picture, via Truth About It, is of the fan that caught Crawford's jersey.

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Crawford wasn't around to talk after the game, and Wittman claimed ignorance when asked about the incident.

"Listen, I'm watching the game," he said to a reporter. "You're obviously not watching the game, you were watching him. I can't comment on that."

Crawford's name has obviously been mentioned in many trade rumors over the past week as his playing time has vanished. Besides that above quote, Wittman has stayed consistent in his message that Crawford needs to work out of his struggles like Chris Singleton and others have.

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John Wall in the 2014 dunk contest?

He sent out this tweet after the underwhelming 2013 event.

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Payton: Wall 'reminds me of myself'

Former Seattle Supersonics point guard Gary Payton was named as one of 12 finalists to the Basketball Hall of Fame, but that's not why we're writing about him here. As has been reported before, he's emerged as a mentor to Washington Wizards point guard John Wall.

Therefore, one reporter asked Payton about David Falk's recent criticism that Wall will never be a franchise player. Wizards Extreme caught the exchange on video:

"I disagree with that. We talked today, we talked yesterday when I first got here. I told him a lot of things that he needed to work on this summer. He's on board. He's going to be with me. So I don't care about that," Payton said.

Then, Payton said something that should resonate with many here.

"The guy reminds me of myself. He's very long. He can score. He's got a good knack for the basketball. He just needs somebody that can teach him how to play defense," he said.

Payton also said that Wall and Damian Lillard will work out with him over the summer.

I've tweeted several times that Wall's best chance to become a star is to follow Payton's development. Payton took three years to really emerge, but he quickly became a star in years 4-5. Hearing Payton say he sees a lot of himself in Wall is very encouraging.

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David Falk crushes John Wall, Wizards

David Falk has some thoughts on the Wizards. You probably won't like them.

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Beal to come off the bench against Pistons

The rookie scored 28 points Monday against the Milwaukee Bucks, but Randy Wittman isn't looking to disrupt the flow of a team riding a four-game winning streak.

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Nene perseveres 5 years after beating cancer

Five years ago, Nene was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He worked very hard to beat the disease, and that journey has shaped who he is today. Michael Lee of the Washington Post has an excellent feature story on Nene's state of mind, five years later.

Here's my favorite part:

But when the Wizards made a surprise visitto St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis a few weeks later, Nene was forced to confront his toughest physical challenge as the players walked through the patient care center and medicine room, where children received cancer treatment. There, Nene was suddenly overwhelmed by the sensations of his own chemotherapy treatments - the burning in his limbs, the goose bumps, the taste on his tongue that he described as "salty and spicy," and the fear that his organs would eventually shut down.

"It was like, amazing. A long time I don't feel like that," Nene said, before reflecting on that difficult period. "For four weeks, I was sick, I was weak. I could feel the liquid moving in the veins. I feel like a science fiction movie, where the liquid comes all over your body. It was like that."

Go check out the story.

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How Stackhouse became a mentor to Wall

Brooklyn Nets veteran and longtime NBA star Jerry Stackhouse has emerged as mentor figure for John Wall thanks to their time playing in North Carolina over the summer. But as Stackhouse told Scott Cacciola of The New York Times, that didn't happen right away:

"He was coming down every time, forcing shots, nobody else touching the ball - and his teammates were wide open," said Stackhouse, one of those teammates. "I was like, ‘You have got to move the basketball.' He got a little upset and said something back to me."

Stackhouse added, "I was like, ‘Who do you think you're talking to?' "

He said he was still upset - "smoke coming out of my ears" - when Wall found him in the parking lot after the game. Wall apologized, and Stackhouse said that meant something to him. It was a sign that Wall, who had grown up in a tough Raleigh neighborhood, had the potential to lead.

We've seen firsthand that Wall has a tendency to go for highlight plays when not checked, so Stackhouse's anecdote makes sense. The good news is that Wall seemed to recognize the error of his ways and worked quickly to correct it.

It remains to be seen whether Wall actually fulfills his promise, but Stackhouse, who has seen it all, seems to believe.

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Magic, Kidd, Calipari give Wall advice

John Wall's big fourth-quarter performance in a win over the Knicks on Wednesday came in front of several notable people in the basketball world. Afterwards, Michael Lee caught up with three of them -- Magic Johnson, Jason Kidd and John Calipari -- to discuss Wall's progress.

Johnson was the most effusive in his praise. The former Lakers legend and current ESPN commentator compared Wall's progress to his own in a way.

"I was just telling Ted, ‘You know what's funny: I was in the same position as John,' " Johnson said. "I could get in there, I could run the fast break but they used to double off of me. I used to really take that personal, them slacking back off of me into Kareem's lap," Johnson said, referring to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Hall of Fame center.

"So I decided to just work on my shot. He's got to put the work in and once he does that, it becomes automatic."

Johnson also said that once Wall gets his jump shot down, he'll be "an all-star every year." Calipari concurred with Johnson, while Kidd suggested that Wall should learn how to change speeds better.

"He can get it to sixth gear and he's as fast as anybody with the ball. If you don't trust [your shot], it takes time, trial and error. When you see the success, you start to understand it's not always about being in sixth gear. I think it's just a matter of knowing when to use the gears and knowing, ‘I can be just as fast as anybody if I'm in fourth or fifth gear.' "

Kidd should know. He transformed himself into an excellent perimeter shooter after being known derisively as "Ason Kidd" for many years.

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Beal selected 8th for Rising Stars Challenge

Washington Wizards rookie Bradley Beal will suit up for Charles Barkley's team at the NBA Rising Stars Challenge on February 15.

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Beal expects to play Friday

After sitting out the last five games, the rookie guard expects his injured wrist to be well enough to play against the Brooklyn Nets.

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Beal won't play vs. Knicks

Bradley Beal will not go tonight for the Wizards against the Knicks, the team announced. Randy Wittman had called Beal a game-time decision an hour and a half before the contest, but ultimately, the team has decided to hold him out for at least one more game.

The Wizards will once again start John Wall, Garrett Temple, Martell Webster, Nene and Emeka Okafor.

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Beal a game-time decision vs. Knicks

There appears to be a chance that Bradley Beal will be back in the Washington Wizards' lineup for Wednesday's game against the Knicks. Beal took part in shootaround and will be a game-time decision, the team announced:

Beal has missed the Wizards' last four games with a wrist injury originally suffered January 18 against the Denver Nuggets. He played ineffectively for five games before finally sitting out to rest the injury. A visit to a hand specialist revealed no structural damage, and Beal did take part on a limited basis in practice yesterday.

It'll be interesting to see whether Beal is immediately elevated into the starting lineup. On the one hand, Garrett Temple had his best game of the season against the Clippers, so it'd be a bit odd to demote him right away. On the other hand, if Beal starts, Temple still merits minutes, so that might squeeze Jordan Crawford even more.

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Beal's wrist rest paying off

After begrudgingly missing four games with a wrist injury, it looks like Bradley Beal might be back in the lineup soon. He missed the three-game road trip last week, and he missed the first game of this homestand last night. Garrett Temple has started in his place, substituting Temple's defense for Beal's offense during his time on the sideline.

Randy Wittman spoke a bit after practice today about tomorrow night's game agains the Knicks and about Beal's recovery. Beal engaged in the team's non-contact practice today, and Coach Wittman had the following to say about his recovery:

He did [practice] some today. We didn't do any contact today. He did shooting; he got out and shot. He's still sore, you can tell. ...It's the first day he has come out and been able to get his wrist going again, so obviously we're headed in the right direction.

According to Jeremy Hyman of WashingtonWizards.com, it's possible that Beal is back in the lineup as soon as tomorrow night against New York.

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Beal and Booker doubtful for Clippers game

Sore wrists will likely keep Bradley Beal and Trevor Booker from lacing up against the Clippers.

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Beal: 'I'm not going to rush back'

Don't hold your breath expecting Bradley Beal to return to the court anytime soon. In an interview with Michael Lee of the Washington Post prior to Saturday's loss to the Spurs, Beal declared his intentions to be patient with his injured wrist:

"I'm not going to rush back. Going to take my time and wait until it heals," Beal said. "It's always because the type of kid I am, it takes a lot for me not to play. If I'm hurt or not. But I have to be smart now. But if I want to have a long career and just finish the season out strong, I have to take care of my body more than anything. It's real tough, but I'm still cheering my teammates on."

Beal did indicate his desire to actually represent the team in the February 15 Rising Stars Challenge at All-Star weekend, so that might be a good indicator of when he'll end up coming back and playing.

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Wall expects to play vs. Spurs

The Wizards definitely got a scare when John Wall left Friday's game against the Memphis Grizzlies with a left shoulder injury. However, Wall eventually returned for the second half and played through it, though he did sit out a long portion of the fourth quarter.

After the game, Wall confirmed that he still plans on playing Saturday against the Spurs.

"I hope so," Wall said, via WashingtonWizards.com. "If it's just sore, I'll play tomorrow. If something comes up where it's injured, I won't, but I think everything's fine. I just have to make sure I keep icing it and keep an eye on it."

Wall described the injury as a "stinger," but said that "nothing was out of place" when the Wizards' trainers looked at it. He admitted that he was playing through some pain during the second half, but he didn't think it was too difficult.

"When I got it moving, it kind of loosened up," he said.

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Beal likely to miss next 2 games

The odds of a Washington Wizards' victory over the San Antonio Spurs or Memphis Grizzlies just got a lot longer.

The Washington Post's Michael Lee reports that shooting guard Bradley Beal will continue to rest his ailing right wrist and is expected to miss Washington's next two games.

"He's day-to-day. We'll have to see how it progresses," Coach Randy Wittman said of Beal.

Beal, who had been struggling since a hard fall in Denver on Jan. 18, will likely miss the next two road games against Memphis on Friday and San Antonio on Saturday. He averaged just 8.8 points while shooting 35.7 percent from the floor (20 of 56) and 30 percent (6 of 20) from beyond the three-point line since the injury.

The timing couldn't be more inconvenient for the Wizards. The team has struggled to score all season, especially when Beal has been out of the line up or suffering through shooting slumps. Beal's backup, Jordan Crawford, has struggled to adjust to a new role since John Wall returned and could be more aggressive than normal if he's given additional minutes.

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Ted Leonsis apologizes for poor start

We talked a bit about Ted Leonsis' interview on WTOP, but Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post also transcribed some segments where Leonsis talked about the team as a whole. The first thing Leonsis did was to apologize to fans for the teams' difficult start:

"You can communicate to the fans and say nobody can plan for the loss of five of eight players, especially when you're in the midst of a rebuild," the owner said. "We weren't a veteran team to begin with, that had a strong foundation. But no one wants to hear that. And so, as you communicate that, really it sounds like spin and hype and justification for starting 0-12. We didn't win a game in our first dozen games. And the fans, they're bottom-line oriented. They want you to win. And again, I apologize. There's nothing we can do about that one."

Leonsis also explained his expectation for .500 play the rest of the season and said that he doesn't see any "transformational star" that would come to D.C. in free agency.

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Young doing just fine in Philly

The Wizards got their first chance to see their former shooting guard on Wednesday, and they came away discovering that he's found a home in Philadelphia.

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Beal selected to Rookie Challenge pool

Unsurprisingly, Bradley Beal was one of nine rookies named to the pool of players in the 2013 Rookie-Sophomore Challenge, the league announced. Beal joins Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Alexey Shved, Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller as the rookies named to the competition.

The nine sophomores are Kyrie Irving, Kenneth Faried, Brandon Knight, Kawhi Leonard, Chandler Parsons, Klay Thompson, Tristan Thompson, Nikola Vucevic and Kemba Walker. As expected, neither of the Wizards' two sophomores made the field.

For the second straight year, there will be a draft to determine the teams. You might recall how John Wall was picked 12th last year, causing an uproar around here.

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Leonsis may want out of Comcast deal

A bunch of you have probably wondered what the end goal is for Monumental Network, the Wizards' newest in-house media empire. For now, it's all online, but according to Ted Leonsis himself, the plan is much bigger.

In a radio segment on WTOP, Leonsis firmly stated that the goal is to eventually purchase the TV rights from Comcast SportsNet:

Right now, we have a great relationship with comcast sports net, but they don't pay us enough money. And you look around the league, and they have done new deals and they pay them a lot of money. In some cases ten times more than we make. So we have to pay more money to the players, but it puts us at a competitive disadvantage that we don't have the resources to compete with these teams. At some point we have to launch our own network, and so the monumental network helps. One day you're going to walk into the Verizon center and see a big studio, and I suspect that our future means that we will have a network.

Right now it's available on the web, and our deal with Comcast ends in four or five years, and we'll see what the future holds.

Teams owning their own regional cable network is uncommon in the NBA now, but the trend is increasingly shifting. TheKnicks and Nets currently own a portion of their stations, and the Lakers, while not owning Time-Warner Cable, recently signed a 20-year, $3 billion contract that includes a separate Lakers channel.

In any event, Leonsis is right that a huge percentage of a sports team's revenue comes from its TV deal, so a future split from Comcast SportsNet makes sense if a raise isn't involved.

Leonsis also answered some other Wizards questions that are worth reading.

Full disclosure: SB Nation and Monumental Sports have a limited content-sharing partnership that includes the trading of links and the weekly "Press Row" web program. Neither parent company owns the other, though.

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Beal seeing hand specialist

One day after saying he might have to sit out some games to get healthy, Bradley Beal is seeing a specialist to address his injured wrist.

X-rays came back negative, but Beal's game has fallen off since taking the spill in a January 18 contest against the Nuggets.

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Beal on wrist: 'I have to take time off'

Bradley Beal admitted Tuesday that he's probably going to have to sit for some time for his injured wrist to heal.

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Beal: 'My wrist is fine'

WASHINGTON -- Bradley Beal played just 24 minutes in the Washington Wizards' 96-94 loss to the Sacramento Kings, and he didn't look all that good during that time. He ended up sitting for good with four minutes left in the fourth quarter in Washington's defeat.

Beal, of course, has been bothered by a wrist injury since suffering a hard fall 10 days ago in a win over the Denver Nuggets. After the game, though, he insisted that he was not hurt.

"My wrist was fine. It was tonight anyway," he said.

"It didn't affect me tonight. That's not the reason I didn't play," he said later. "I'm just going to talk to the trainers, talk to my agent, everything like that, and see how it feels. It's going to be my decision regardless."

Beal said he wasn't sure why he got taken out. In his postgame press conference, though, Randy Wittman said he took him out because his wrist didn't look good.

"I thought he was hurt. I didn't see the comfort level out there," Wittman said. "I think the wrist is bothering him. I don't know if he got it hit, because I haven't spoken to him. I don't know if it got jammed again. I think it's bothering him, there's no question about it. I just went in a different direction."

Wittman was asked whether it might make sense for Beal to sit out due to the injury.

"We'll have to see where he's at. Is it worse? Is it better? Is it the same? Obviously, if it's getting worse, it's not going to do him any good [to play]," Wittman said.

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Smart: Injury was good for Wall's development

WASHINGTON -- Count Sacramento Kings coach Keith Smart as one person who thinks John Wall's stress injury will ultimately be beneficial to his long-term development. Here's his response when I asked him what he's noticed about Wall that's different from his first two years in the league.

"Sometimes when you get hurt you concentrate on other parts of your game. Before, he just used all of his blazing speed, try to beat people with his speed. He never relied on his jump-shooting or anything else, or just trying to think the game from a true point guard perspective. I think when you get hurt, you can't run right now, so you become a student. It slows you down and starts getting you to understand how to play the game from a mental standpoint."

"Not that he wasn't before, but now he was forced to do that. Coming back from rehab, doing light practicing, he didn't have all he had. Now, the game becomes a thinking game. When that happens, it opens the door for a big jump with him coming back. ... He can undersand how to really be a point guard."

"I'm sure Sam Cassell is thinking, 'Finally! Something got your attention.' [He] can now focus on running a basketball team and not just using [his] speed to run by people all the time."

Game thread on the way...

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Wittman: Beal had X-ray on wrist, 'nothing there'

For those (like me) that were worried the Wizards were having Bradley Beal play through a potentially serious injury, it looks like those fears can be allayed. After shootaround, coach Randy Wittman said the team did have Beal go in for an X-Ray:

"He's still got some soreness, but he's playing through it," Wittman said, via WashingtonWizards.com. "We've done all the X-rays and everything on it. There's nothing there."

Beal was spotted with a soft cast on the wrist following the team's game against the Chicago Bulls.

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Nene, Okafor forming solid duo

Nene has been awesome since returning to the court, but he's also helped Emeka Okafor rediscover his game.

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Bradley Beal's wrist is still hurting

Bradley Beal's poor performance in the Washington Wizards' recent 86-73 victory over the Chicago Bulls may have been a result of lingering problems with his injured right wrist. As Michael Lee reported in The Washington Post on January 28:

After the Wizards defeated the Chicago Bulls, 86-73, on Saturday night, rookie Bradley Beal had a new accessory to go with his post-game wardrobe: a soft, protective brace with Velcro straps on his right wrist.

"My wrist is bothering me," Beal said as he held the cast, "but it was a great team win for us. And I'm going to do whatever it takes to help the team win."

The wrist was injured during Washington's victory over the Denver Nuggets on January 18. Beal has used protective tape on his ailing wrist during shootarounds but does not want to use it during games. Lee added:

During the morning shoot-around in Utah, Beal wore some protective tape over his wrist, but he has refused to wear it in games after feeling that it contributed to a poor first half against the Los Angeles Clippers.

"It's too uncomfortable," Beal, 19, said of the tape. "It's resisting my release and the way I shoot it and it's still not 100 percent the way I want to shoot it, but I'm going to fight through and tough it out. I just got to stay healthy, as best as I can. The trainers are doing a good job of helping me, giving me treatment and things like that. I've got to keep taking care of my body."

It's understandable that Beal wouldn't want to do anything that could prevent him from contributing to the team, especially considering how much momentum the Wizards have built up. That said, the 11-31 Wizards are playing almost entirely for pride at this point and anything that could curtail Beal's development and confidence during what has been an up and down rookie season needs to be treated with a lot of caution.

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Webster to BF: 'I love this organization'

Is Martell Webster a part of the Wizards' future? The Wizards' forward tells Bullets Forever that while he's not "focused" on his impending free agency, he is having "the most fun I've had in my career."

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Wall: Injury caused him to 'focus' more on diet

If there's one positive that comes away from John Wall's knee injury, it's that he was forced him to think a little harder about how he eats. Wall certainly was never unhealthy, but there have been a couple times since he career began where one could say his eating habits were a concern. There was a Washington Post video report that revealed all the unhealthy snacks in his pantry. There was also that time recently where photos made it look like Wall was, ahem, a little heavy.

But Wall now says he's learned from having to sit around and rest his injured knee. In an interview for the NBA's "Fit" program, Wall said his diet has changed since the injury.

Eating healthy has been the biggest challenge for me; I have had to focus more on my eating habits since my injury. I try very hard to eliminate sweets and fried food. I have added more vegetables to my diet, as well as baked food, like chicken and fish. On a typical day, I grab a healthy breakfast from our team chef, normally one waffle, turkey bacon, some grapes and a smoothie, for lunch, I may have plain rice and chicken, and then for dinner shrimp or steak, string beans and a baked potato.

Hopefully, Wall's improved diet helps accelerate his rise a a player.

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Witt: Beal's wrist 'sore,' but won't 'hinder' him

Bradley Beal has not been the same player since hurting his wrist on a hard fall against the Denver Nuggets last Friday. In three games since, he's averaging nine points per game on just 39 percent shooting. Nevertheless, it appears that Beal will continue to play through the soreness, according to Randy Wittman.

Beal said Thursday that while he doesn't want to "use it as an excuse," the wrist was "really bothering me."

I can't speak to whether the team actually went to check the injury out, but if they haven't, I suggest they should. I understand the allure of actually having a fully healthy team, but the Wizards are 9-31 right now and are only playing for pride. There's no reason to rush a .500 finish if it means jeopardizing a player's health, especially one as vital to the team's future as Beal.

If it turns out the injury isn't anything serious, so be it, but Beal is going to want to fight through the pain unless someone stops him. I don't see the harm in at least getting an X-ray.

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Wall's minutes limit will continue

For those hoping to see John Wall return to playing 36-40 minutes a game, it doesn't look like that'll happen just yet. Via Craig Stouffer of the Washington Examiner:

It's unclear whether this definitively means that Wall will come off the bench, as he has since returning. Wall could still play fewer minutes while starting, and doing so would allow him to play more with Bradley Beal. But we'll wait to see what Wittman reveals before tonight's game.

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Leonsis: 'I'd like to see us play .500'

The Wizards still have sole possession of the worst record in the NBA. It has been a rough season, but with John Wall back, the team has gone 4-3 in their past 7 games. Not too shabby, considering they went 0-12 to start off the year.

After the OkAriza trade, Ted Leonsis's mantra for this team was playoffs-or-bust. Then John Wall got injured, and it was downgraded to let's-just-not-embarrass-ourselves. And then when they were embarrassing themselves, we all just prayed for John Wall to come back. Well, he's back, and the team's defense is still strong (10th in the league) and their offense is finally picking up (still 30th, but not nearly has horrible). That (largely because of Wall and increased confidence across the board) has resulted in more wins. Leonsis is kidding himself that this team can make the playoffs this season, but he thinks playing .500 ball is a definite possibility.

The Post's Sportsbog, Dan Steinberg, has more:

"I really want to see what the team can do," he told WRC's Dan Hellie last week, on the day of the Caps' open practice at Verizon Center. "And we obviously have to add to the team, bring more talent in. We can do that through the draft, we can do that through trades and free agency.

"I did think we could compete and be a .500 kind of team, and if we had played .500 we'd be in the playoffs right now, or at least the playoff hunt. So I'd like to see us play .500, playoff-caliber like basketball for the next 45 games, 48 games, whatever's left this year, and just see what we've got.

"Yeah, it's been disappointing, but now we see John, and we see what he's capable of. But he can only play 20 minutes. We've got to ease him back in. And Nene's just up to 25 minutes. So we are playing a lot better, but I really want to see what the team's like when everyone's healthy, [when] we add another piece here or there. And my bet is that going into the rest of the year, that we'll be much improved, and we can have a lot of upside for our next season."

Next season, indeed.

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Pekovic, Shved won't travel to D.C.

The Wizards will face a very shorthanded Timberwolves team on Friday. Already without Kevin Love, Brandon Roy and Chase Budinger, the Timberwolves also won't have starters Alexey Shved and Nikola Pekovic.

Pekovic has not played since last Thursday against the Clippers due to a right quad injury. Shved missed Wednesday's game against the Nets with a sprained left ankle. Greg Stiemsma and Luke Ridnour started Wednesday's game and probably will do so again on Friday.

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SI: Wizards' midseason grade is an 'F'

Hard to argue with Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated (and Blazers Edge) when he gives the Wizards an "F" for their season to date:

Washington didn't fall into the league's worst record by accident. Injuries happen in the NBA and quality teams can manage them. Take Rose off the Bulls, and you still have a solid playoff team. Take John Wall off the Wizards, and you're left with a team whose offense essentially does not function. The good news is that Wall is back from a knee injury, and things are looking up slightly. The bad news is that it's way too late for it to matter this season.

The Lakers and Suns are the only other teams to receive an "F" grade.

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Beal: Wrist 'really bothering me'

Bradley Beal admitted that he's still feeling the effects of a hard fall in the Wizards' win over the Nuggets.

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Forbes: Wizards are 23rd most valuable NBA team

I never know how accurate these Forbes lists are, but for what it's worth, the Wizards rank as the 23rd most valuable NBA franchise. Here's the explanation:

The Wizards have been the worst team in the NBA since the start of the 2008-09 season, winning only 27% of their games. Fans are hoping Ted Leonsis, who took majority control of the team in 2010, can engineer a similar turnaround to what he did with his Washington Capitals of the NHL. Fans are getting impatient as TV ratings dropped 22% last season and were third lowest in the NBA. In July, Leonsis took advantage of the amnesty clause in the new CBA to cut the disappointing Andray Blatche and remove his salary from the salary cap. Blatche will still receive the $23 million remaining on his contract through 2015.

The Kings, who are about to be sold, are 11th on this list. I wouldn't take this too seriously.

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Utah writer: Wizards are 'a little scary'

I don't know whether to consider this lede from Jim Burton of the Standard-Examiner in Utah a real compliment or a backhanded one, but it's still a fun one to read regardless.

Don't let the record fool you, the Washington Wizards are ... dangerous.

Not great, but good and getting better.

And definitely a little scary these days.

(HT: Dan Steinberg).

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Wizards haven't given up on the playoffs

Everyone with a calculator has written off the Washington Wizards as a potential playoff team, but John Wall and Randy Wittman ain't having none of your math.

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Is Crawford Washington's best trade chip?

Even after a salary-cutting trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday, the Memphis Grizzlies might still be looking to trade Rudy Gay. The Wizards and Jordan Crawford could be their next target.

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Recap roundup: Teammates believed in JC

Rounding up the best nuggets from every recap about last night's Wizards win over the Blazers.

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Crawford explains how he got open

The Wizards' guard explains how he got a clean look to win the game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

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Links: Wall lookin' good

He'll get another good test tonight against the league's leading ROY candidate.

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Booker wants Griffin suspended for elbow

The Wizards' forward spoke out about an apparent elbow that Griffin delivered in the final minute of Washington's loss to the Clippers on Saturday night.

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Links: Wizards clipped in L.A.

Imagine if they'd won this one.

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Seraphin wanted to 'play my best' vs. McGee

The Wizards' center said he tried to "play my best" against his former teammate.

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Links: Nene 1, Pierre 0

This make me smile. You have no idea.

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Karl wants McGee to be 'more Tim Duncan-like'

The things George Karl said about JaVale McGee prior to the Nuggets' game against the Wizards sound familiar, don't they?

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Links: Nene returns to Denver

Meanwhile, the Wizards check up on their favorite 7-foot train wreck.

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Links: Payton advising Wall?

Today's links lead off with a story about how John Wall and Gary Payton catch up regularly. Also: a dumb piece asking if Wall is done developing.

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Links: It's been awhile

Like, a long time, guys.

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Links: A winning streak!

Coverage from around the web of the Wizards' victory over the Orlando Magic.

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Agent: 'They are not moving Bradley Beal'

Bradley Beal's agent has emphatically denied a rumor that his client was offered in a trade package for Memphis Grizzlies small forward Rudy Gay.

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Links: What do the Wizards have to play for?

In today's links: the Wizards figure out what's left to play for this season, and rumors about a Bradley Beal/Rudy Gay trade offer surface.

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Links: John Wall-mania edition

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