With the NBA Draft this past Thursday, there has been a tsunami of Wizards news over the past couple days which I'm proud to say we're working hard on. Now that the stories have calmed down a little, let's review the week and talk about how things went.
Soon after the NBA Finals ended on Sunday, rumors surfaced saying that Kevin Durant was giving the Golden State Warriors a very close look as a possible destination. On top of that, he is not even giving the Wizards a meeting when his free agency starts in early July according to reports.
Kevin Durant reportedly will not visit hometown Wizards or rebuilding Lakers in free agency https://t.co/Bj3bjsq06R pic.twitter.com/7Z33OmNlXk— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) June 25, 2016
Ben Becker wrote earlier last season that the Wizards' 2015-16 season moves to acquire multiple veterans on short-term contracts -- and going on "autopilot" blew up in their face. Sure, this isn't official official yet, but the Wizards already seem to be moving on from Durant even before the "fun" really begins...
Plan B: THE WIZARDS SIGNING JOAKIM NOAH TO A MAX DEAL WAS A REAL RUMOR FOR A LITTLE BIT!
So, when the Wizards find out that Durant isn't even interested in talking to the organization, the Wizards have to explore alternative plans to use their new cap space. According to the Sporting News last Friday, Washington was apparently ready to give Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah a maximum level contract.
Truth About It's Adam McGinnis wrote things succinctly here on that:
This Sporting News scribe calls #Wizards pursuit of KD delusional but then just rides along with the max offer to Noah as it somehow sane— Adam McGinnis (@adammcginnis) June 24, 2016
McGinnis' tweet was a voice of reason. Much of the Twittersphere however was furious. Scott Allen of The Washington Post has a roundup of other tweets that were just wondering that the Wizards can't be serious right?
Fortunately, that appears to be the case. According to J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic, the Wizards have no intentions of giving Noah that type of money. And that makes sense.
President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld has signed or acquired multiple players to fiscally sound deals, such as Marcin Gortat's current five-year extension worth $60 million. In addition, the acquisition of Markieff Morris is another fiscally sound move since he will only make $24 million over the next three seasons. Why would Washington want to get a veteran big who has an injury history a maximum deal?
Hmmm. Nothing happened for the Wizards. But with a weaker-than-expected class AND Ernie Grunfeld's lack of an eye to find diamonds in the rough, that's fine with me.
Wizards make Summer League signings
There's still a Summer League team to be made. So here's the list of new signings so far.
- Sheldon McClellan, Danuel House, Kaleb Tarczewski
- Daniel Ochefu
- Sterling Gibbs
- James Southerland
- Jaleel Roberts
- Jarell Eddie will be back
Our series continues as we look back on how Drew Gooden and Ramon Sessions fared.
Free Agent Rankings
We evaluated many of our Top-10 free agents who the Wizards will likely think about asking this summer. Here's the list in case you missed it over the week:
- No. 10: Dwight Howard
- No. 9: Allen Crabbe
- No. 8: Ryan Anderson
- No. 7: DeMar DeRozan
- No. 6: Chandler Parsons
- No. 5: Harrison Barnes
Bradley Beal turns down a chance to play for Team USA
Many of the NBA's 31 finalists have turned down offers to play for the USA Basketball men's national team this summer in the Olympics. We never thought that Bradley Beal had a chance, but when so many guards were turning it down, his number was called. For about an hour, Wizards fans had good news. We had a chance to see one of our star players play in the Olympics with other up-and-coming stars.
But unfortunately, this past season has been disappointing for the fans. And we learned that Wizards fans can't have nice things. This is his statement:
I could not be more grateful for the invitation to represent my country, as it is the ultimate honor, however it is with deep regret that I have declined the opportunity to participate with Team USA this summer in Rio. I have made the decision to dedicate this summer to getting in the best physical shape of my life and feel it is imperative that I stay true to my plan so I can be at my very best supporting my coaches and teammates for the upcoming season. I wish Team USA nothing but great success and I hope to earn another opportunity to represent my country in the near future.
To be fair, many people believed that Beal should have turned down such an invitation anyway. The chance to play in the Olympics is great of course. But you also have to understand that he is going to sign a major contract this summer AND the injury history with his right leg is still a concern.
I just hope that Beal turning down the Olympics isn't going to blacklist him from future opportunities.
Wizards fire Eric Waters
Waters was the team's lead trainer for over a decade.
We had some fun in Poland too!
I want to end the Wizards portion of this piece with good news. Marcin Gortat held a camp last week in Poland with Garrett Temple and assistant coach (?) David Adkins. In addition, I spoke with Truth About It's Bartosz Bielecki on how he enjoys watching the team.
John Wall hosts basketball camp in Fairfax, Virginia
Gortat wasn't the only one hosting basketball camp. Wall was at Fairfax High School doing the same. He also spoke with Chris Miller of CSN Mid-Atlantic about his recovery from knee procedures earlier this offseason.
Also, check out these tweets:
Me at the John Wall camp getting the kids right pic.twitter.com/X5fnZJWUNT— Quincy Lewis (@Qlewis05) June 25, 2016
Sam meet John. Having a blast at John Wall camp! @JohnWall @ProCamps @Safeway pic.twitter.com/jzFnxE6s2k— David Wick (@dwick45) June 25, 2016
Mystics claw back to .500 before falling to the Mercury on Friday
The Mystics were once 2-7 not too long ago. But today, they are 7-8 and have won five of their last seven games. They got two home wins in a row against the Dream and Fever, but lost to the Mercury last Friday.
They play the Lynx later this afternoon. God help us for that game.
Stef Dolson goes shopping for vintage clothes after kickball practice
On Tuesday, there was a kickball game. For real!
Who's in for some kickball for warmup? pic.twitter.com/0wXpvthOBO— Washington Mystics (@WashMystics) June 21, 2016
Really, it was just the team having fun after practice. But after that game, Dolson hung out with Charlotte Wilder of USA Today's For the Win for some vintage clothes shopping. Swear to God they look like twins here:
Check out @bigmamastef's shopping trip with @ForTheWin yesterday! https://t.co/cZsOqZuSV4pic.twitter.com/SOJQDELWsN— Washington Mystics (@WashMystics) June 22, 2016
Read Wilder's column for all the details, but I'll finish this section with YouTube highlights.
Coaching is in the blood of the Thibault Clan
Mystics GM/Head Coach Mike Thibault has two children: Eric, who is an assistant on the Mystics and Carly who is an assistant for Mississippi State's women's basketball team. The three sat together in a Monumental Sports Network Video for some quality time.
The Mystics' heavy hitters were guests at the White House too
I gotta say that Dolson had a long week. I just wonder where she got those Arabian Harem pants from...
One of the WNBA's Top 20 players wore a Mystics uniform -
As you may be aware, this is the 20th year the WNBA has been in business. The league released a list of the 20 best players to ever be in the league on Tuesday. Of them all, Katie Smith is the only one to have worn a Mystics uniform. She played for the team in 2010 and led them to their best regular season finish in franchise history with a 22-12 campaign.
Smith will be best known for playing with the Detroit Shock (now the Dallas Wings) from 2006-2009 where she won two WNBA titles and was the 2008 Finals MVP. In addition, Smith was a seven-time All-Star and a three-time Olympic Gold Medalist (2000, 2004, 2008). In addition to the Mystics and Shock, Smith played for the Lynx from 1999-2005, the Storm in 2011-13, and the Liberty in 2014. Smith is now an assistant coach for the Liberty.
The final list of 20 came from an initial pool of 60 players who had to meet at least three of seven categories. Of them, the candidates who are best known for being Mystics players are Chamique Holdsclaw (with D.C. from 1999-2004), Alana Beard (2004-2011), and Crystal Langhorne (2008-2013). Of these three, I kinda wished that Holdsclaw would have pulled through because she is the Mystics' most iconic player and it's not even close. Beard and Langhorne were fringe All-Stars so it wasn't realistic to see them make the cut anyway.
Though this WNBA's Top 20 player list is supposed to be a good moment for the league, it's also a damnation of the Mystics in the pre-Mike Thibault Era. It is a reminder of past coaching regimes' mismanagement, organizational blunders, failed rebuilding-but-not-really-rebuilding strategies, and not having a top draft pick to show for multiple terrible seasons. The last part really hurts because the Draft Lottery has been evil to Washington several times in the last 15 years. But I'll leave it there because there's no point bashing the past more than I have to.
The good news is that the Mystics have learned their lesson from those blunders. And as mentioned before, we are in the Thibault Era of the franchise. Keep in mind that when Thibault was coaching the Connecticut Sun from 2003-2012, he also didn't have many superstar picks in part because he averaged 20 wins a season with them.
Furthermore, he developed one of the Top 20 players -- Lindsay Whalen -- to become one of the top point guards in the league despite not being a "heralded draft pick." So looking ahead, there's a good chance that the Mystics will be a better team AND we'll have more to show for it on the record books for good reasons.
Scott Brooks talks about meeting the Wizards during the offseason
Brooks attended the Mystics' game on Wednesday and had a chance to see Markieff Morris workout. Morris also attended the game.
In a video interview with Monumental Sports Network's Dan Nolan, he mentioned that "it's all about the relationships." Brooks specifically mentioned that he spoke with Bradley Beal and Kelly Oubre in Los Angeles, which seems to be the offseason home for all the NBA players as of late.
So, that's on my plate for this week's worth of links and stories. If you have another link to share, feel free to do so in the comments or preferably, in a FanPost.