Happy first week of February folks. It's been a couple really busy weeks for me. So let's get to the main story lines of the week.
Top Wizards stories
Wizards go 1-2 in the last seven days, Wittman misses two games due to brother's death
On Saturday, January 30, the Wizards beat the Houston Rockets, 123-122. The game had a playoff atmosphere to it given that there was physical play, and neither team led by more than six at any point in the game. Still, when the Wizards were down by six, it felt like they were down by 10 or more. Randy Wittman also learned that his older brother Rick passed away, and he missed the next two games.
When Wittman left, it felt like the Wizards were playing without a man in some ways. On Monday, they played the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road and were run out of the gym 114-98.
Finally, they came back to D.C. on Wednesday to host the Golden State Warriors. They lost again, 134-121. Yes, Stephen Curry dropped 25 on Washington in the first quarter and scored 51 points overall, but John Wall more than held his own. He scored 41 points and dropped 10 assists in the loss. In almost any other game, that performance would have given the Wizards a win, but not when Curry turns into God.
Tonight, the Wizards will play the Philadelphia 76ers at home. Washington should win, but stranger things have happened.
Opposing players went bonkers on the Wizards in the last three games
Rockets guard James Harden scored 40 points and dished last Saturday. Fortunately, the Wizards won, so we're not talking too much about it.
However in each of the Wizards' last two games, they allowed a player to grab a triple double.
Thunder guard Russell Westbrook scored 17 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, and dished 11 assists in the Monday loss. And Warriors forward Draymond Green scored 12 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and dished 12 assists in the Wednesday loss. Green's triple-double was probably the quietest such performance I have ever seen just because of Stephen Curry's first half explosion in Chinatown.
Tommy Sheppard, Future Nets General Manager?
The Brooklyn Nets recently "reassigned" Billy King who previously held the role. One of the people on their short list is Ernie Grunfeld's second-in-command. Sheppard has interviewed for General Manager positions in the past and is highly respected in the NBA. His time to be a President of Basketball Operations is coming sooner rather than later, so it will be interesting to see if the Wizards want to do something to keep him.
The Playoffs are looking less and less likely
The Wizards are now 21-26 for the season. Sure, in another world, Washington could go 25-10 to finish the season and match last season's 46-36 record. And sure, the Wizards are still just 3.5 games out of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference for games played through February 3. 2015.. If they can get on a good win streak, Washington could feasibly be eighth.
However, Washingotn has been inconsistent all season long. Whether you blame it on injuries or on Ernie Grunfeld being hired in 2003, the bottom line is that Washington's playoff chances are very small. According to numberFire.com, the Wizards' chance of making the playoffs is just 7.9 percent based on their power rankings.
We are getting close to All-Star Break and the trade deadline. It would be nice to see Washington go on a big run over the next week of course. However, each loss stings more and more. Hate to say it now, but the Mystics will be the only Washington professional basketball team playing this May.
Top Mystics stories
The Mystics have had a busier week given that free agent contracts were announced in the WNBA. Let's catch up here.
LaToya Sanders re-signed with Washington on a multi-year deal
This is a huge signing because Sanders was a rebounding and blocking machine for Washington off the bench last year. There were definitely no shortage of teams hoping that she would sign an offer sheet with them and perhaps be their starting small forward.
The news certainly is welcome, because Sanders' addition gives the Mystics arguably the deepest frontcourt in the WNBA. Any team with a starting post duo of two young All-Stars like Emma Meesseman AND Stefanie Dolson with backups like LaToya Sanders and Kia Vaughn isn't going to be a pushover. Click here to learn more.
Emma Meesseman led Sparta&k Moscow Region to the EuroCup Quarterfinals
ElleLovesTennis wrote this killer FanPost on how she flipped a switch between Games 1 and 2 of their first round matchup against French club Nantes Reze.
Many question whether Meesseman can be a true number one option on a championship caliber team. I know I've noted that she is kind of like the aforementioned Draymond Green in terms of skill set, but Green isn't a number one or number two option on the Warriors. Otherwise, his triple doubles would be much bigger news than they are.
The Mystics need Meesseman to be that for Washington if they're going to take a huge step forward this summer.
Mike Thibault, Natasha Cloud, and Christy Winters-Scott went to Capitol Hill earlier this week for National Women and Girls in Sports Day
The Mystics' GM/HC, second-year guard, and color analyst took part in some roundtable discussions and panels that happened on Tuesday and Wednesday. Click here to read this recap from Monumental Network.
Also, Mystics assistant coach Marianne Stanley gave a video interview to Monumental Network's Dan Nolan that you can see below or click here.
Top Bullets Forever Staff Features
Here are some stories that we'd like to share again from the past week:
Time for the Wizards to let Ernie Grunfeld go - Ben Becker wrote a concise summary on why it's time for a change a the Wizards' front office. Grunfeld has constructed a number of competitive teams in quick fashion over the past decade in Washington. To be fair, the last two years have been the most exciting. However, I don't think this offseason had to be a year where everything had to stagnate for Kevin Durant.
Gilbert Arenas, do you really have to talk about credit card fraud? - There are two ways to look at things Arenas says on Instagram. On the one hand, we can ignore it, especially when he give opinions, even when they are offensive. On the other, we should give a response when he crosses the line. He talked about illegal activity last week, and I don't think ignoring it is the answer. That's why I wrote a take on the issue after the joy of the Rockets win subsided a little.
If there's one thing I think most can agree on, Arenas needs help, somewhere. I hope he does soon.
Nene disagrees with his ejection during Saturday's Rockets game - I'm surprised the Big Brazilian wasn't fined for it, as far as I'm aware. But he didn't explicitly criticize anyone here SO DON'T FINE HIM NBA IF YOU READ THIS ... PLEASE?
Handing out Keys to the Palace in January 2016 - Jake's had a busy month, but he did have a chance to hand out some keys, guest passes, and lockouts for the month. Check them out above.
Time to be the Wizards' sixth man! - Courtney wrote this on Wednesday before the Warriors game. But I think you can say this for any game. Just take out all the GSW references and replace them with whatever team Washington's playing. It fits 'em all.
Best FanPosts of the Week
The Wizards' Big problem with bigs - talha wrote this take on the Wizards' lack of post players who are long term fits. It's clear that Nene isn't a long term solution at this point in his career. But Marcin Gortat may not be either, since he will be 32 this year.
Like Gortat, I'll be 32 this year and I still think I'm young. But I guess for basketball terms, I'd be on the AARP unit now. God, these years are flying by.......
Should the Wizards make a move for Harrison Barnes? - Mike Knapp wrote this FanPost soon after some sources indicated that Kevin Durant may want to sign with the Golden State Warriors if he leaves the Thunder this summer. Washington has no shortage of forwards right now, and though I don't think he'd be a bad fit in D.C., his addition may mean the end of Otto Porter's or Kelly Oubre's Wizards tenures.
Top Wizards and Mystics stories outside of Bullets Forever
Nithin Kuchibholta of Fansided's Wiz of Awes wrote about Colin Cowherd's "saga" with Wall on Thursday - Earlier this week, the radio host said "What's the difference between Johnny Manziel and John Wall?" on his radio show. As you may be aware, Manziel is -- for now -- a quarterback on the Cleveland Browns and has a penchant for getting into drama. Wall, on the other hand, has avoided that.
Kuchibholta goes on to talk about the possible racial undertones about Cowherd's persistent disdain for Wall that comes from time to time. Definitely a must-read.
Shaun Powell of NBA.com writes that Oklahoma City has the best chance of landing Kevin Durant - Yeah, you can call it "stating the obvious." After all, the Thunder can offer Durant the most money of any team out there. But here's the thing. The Thunder are quietly 38-13 this season, good for third in the Western Conference. Both he and Westbrook are playing at a very high level.
To be fair, Powell does mention that the Wizards are doing the right thing by staying on the "go for KD" train. However, the bottom line is that Durant is in a good situation right now in OKC, especially if he gets reassurance that Westbrook will re-sign in 2017.
Clinton Yates of the D.C. Sports Bog wrote about Bradley Beal posing as famed poet Langston Hughes and Monumental Sports' Black History Month campaign - February is Black History Month and figures at Monumental Sports -- which includes the Wizards -- decided to pay homage to famous Black Americans.
Last year, if you may recall, Ted Leonsis compared himself, kinda, to Martin Luther King, Jr. It wasn't exactly offensive, but it was eye-popping for sure.
Eric Nemchock of FanRag's Today's Fastbreak has another preview of the Mystics' free agency's needs - In his analysis, Nemchock wrote that the Mystics need more rebounding and a "go-to option." He does imply that perhaps Meesseman could be one of the WNBA's best frontcourt players in 2016, but the Mystics weren't elite at anything last year, hence their 18-16 record.
Until the Mystics can definitively be clear who their top offensive options are, it's not likely that things are going to change much.
Okay, I've written over 1,800 words in a links post, so I'll leave it there. Have another link? Share in the comments or a FanPost! Have a great weekend and enjoy the Super Bowl on Sunday everyone!