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After uncertainty early in summer, Marcin Gortat is all-in on 2017-18 with Wizards

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USA Today Sports

After uncertainty early in summer, Marcin Gortat is all-in on 2017-18 with Wizards

This week, as he prepares for his fifth season with the Washington Wizards, Marcin Gortat is participating in the team's informal summer mini-camp. In previous summers he has been busy back home in Poland with family and other obligations.

This year, Gortat has joined the team in Los Angeles and as a surprise. Despite knowing he had missed the camp for years, Gortat's teammates included him on a group text, one that has sent the Wizards big man messages at odd hours of the night due to the time zone difference in Poland.

"Please, take me out of that group text. You guys are literally waking me up," Gortat said he texted back, knowing he would ultimately show up unnannounced. 

Gortat attending the camp for a change is partly a matter of his schedule being open, unlike in years past. But it is an interesting display of commitment given the uncertainty about his future just months ago. Gortat expressed doubt about whether he would be with the Wizards at the end of the summer, or if a trade would be the best course of action, during his exit interview with the media after the Wizards' playoff loss in May.

[RELATED: GRUNFELD SEES GORTAT AS BIG PART OF FUTURE]

Gortat joined the Wizards Tipoff podcast this week for a lengthy interview with CSN's Chris Miller.

Here is how Gortat explained his situation on the podcast:

"First of all, I knew it right away that I would be coming back. I still have a contract and at the end of the day, I’m a Wizards player. I still have two fully guaranteed years. When I went for the exit interview, I was just preparing myself for the worst. You’ve gotta be ready in this business. You’ve gotta be ready that one day you might get a phone call saying that ‘hey, I appreciate everything that you did, but we’re going to go in a different direction and trade you.’ I’ve been traded twice in my life. I know how it is. So, at the exit interview I just said I was going to talk to my agent and whatever is going to happen. That doesn’t mean I wanted to be traded. It doesn’t mean that I’m leaving or that I don’t want to play for the Washington Wizards. It’s just that my situation with the team had completely changed. It’s not a secret that the first 40 to 50 games I was playing heavy minutes and then it completely dropped. I didn’t have the same amount of touches that I had the previous two or three years.

"But listen, at the end of the day, if the team is winning then I’m fine with that. It’s all about winning and taking a step forward, going to the playoffs and hopefully reaching the conference finals and hopefully one day the NBA Finals. But it was just a tough situation for me certain weeks and certain months. In the playoffs, I had games where I was able to perform at the highest level and then the next game I was completely out of the game. So, it was tough. But like I said before, just because I said that in the exit interview stuff like that, doesn’t mean I don’t want to be on the team. I was just preparing myself that I might be traded. At the end of the day, I know I’m not the youngest one."

You can listen to Gortat's full podcast interview right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

[RELATED: KEEF AND DOLPH, A WIZARDS ODD COUPLE]

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Best moments from the Wizards' win over the Clippers, including some big dunks

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Best moments from the Wizards' win over the Clippers, including some big dunks

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Wizards' 100-91 win over the Clippers on Friday night...

1. This game got started much like the previous one did, on Wednesday when the Wizards and Grizzlies couldn't buy a bucket. But the offense got going sooner than later and for the Wizards that breakout came with back-to-back threes.

Mike Scott hit the first one and Bradley Beal quickly followed up with the second one:

2. Beal ended up with 20 points and 11 rebounds. His best play of the night was this stepback jumper over Sam Dekker that had the Wizards' bench going nuts. Keep an eye on John Wall's hopping celebration:

[PODCAST: WHAT'S UP WITH MARKIEFF MORRIS?]

3. Scott kept it going and finished with a team-high 22 points. Scott has had an impressive season and this may have been his best play so far.

Scott got open on fastbreak and threw down his best dunk of the year:

4. Wall had a modest night of 15 points and five assists as he continues to work within a minutes restriction. But he did get in some nice highlights including this block:

5. The Clippers made it interesting by tying it up several times in the fourth quarter, but the Wizards pulled away in the final five minutes, including this four-point play by Kelly Oubre, Jr., who ended up with eight points and seven rebounds:

[RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS]

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Finally healthy, Mike Scott continues to be the surprise of the Wizards' 2017-18 season

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Finally healthy, Mike Scott continues to be the surprise of the Wizards' 2017-18 season

Nothing about the 2017-18 season for the Washington Wizards so far has been more surprising than the emergence of Mike Scott, a six-year NBA veteran who through two months is on pace to have the best season of his NBA career after overcoming considerable odds to regain his form.

Scott continued to boost the Wizards with 22 points in a win against the Clippers on Friday night. That matched a season-high and his most since April of 2014. 

In his past six games, Scott has piled up 80 points on a ridiculous 34-for-43 (79 percent) from the field. Scott admits it's the best stretch of his career and he's even surprising himself.

"I honestly didn't think I'd be shooting or playing like this, either," he said.

No one can blame Scott for not expecting this. The chances of him reaching this point seemed slim just months ago.

Scott was once a rotation mainstay with the Atlanta Hawks after joining them as a 2012 second round pick out of the University of Virginia. By his third season Scott was an important bench piece for a 60-win team on one of the deepest rosters in the NBA.

[RELATED: WALL IS NO LONGER ALLOWED TO DUNK AT WIZARDS PRACTICES]

But then several events happened that threatened Scott's NBA career. He had a host of injuries to his left leg beginning in the 2014-15 season, including to his toe, ankle and knee. Scott had surgery to repair his left ankle in July of 2015 and afterwards had platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment to help it heal.

It was a long road back to this point, but now he's healthy and able to be himself on the court.

"My ankle's feeling great, my knee's feeling great, my leg is feeling great," he said, noting he's the healthiest he's been since 2014. "I was telling one of my friends [over the summer] that if I'm healthy, everything else will take care of itself."

Throughout his injury saga, matters were complicated by a felony drug arrest in July of 2015. That took two years to settle and it helped contribute to a down season in 2015-16 and the worst year of his career in 2016-17.

Though he beat the case, the potential of a decades-long prison sentence weighed on him. Meanwhile he spent time in the D-League, was traded to the Phoenix Suns and subsequently waived.

"I rested my body and sulked. The court stuff wasn't over yet," he said. "I just sulked and got down on myself."

Scott's weight ballooned to 268 pounds. Sensing his NBA career was in the balance, Scott turned to two men to help him get back on track; a basketball coach named Mark Edwards and a trainer who goes by the alias Mr. Shut Up and Train. His real name is Rahman Grayson and he's worked with other NBA players like Jaylen Brown.

[PODCAST: WHAT'S UP WITH MARKIEFF MORRIS?]

In Scott, Mr. Shut Up and Train - the nickname is too good not to use - has quite the success story. He helped Scott drop 30 pounds in a matter of months, just in time to work out for the Wizards and earn a veteran's minumum contract worth $1.7 million.

The deal was basically a lottery ticket for the Wizards. They knew the player Scott once was and needed help on their bench. It was low risk, but potentially high reward.

So far they are getting the latter. Scott is averaging 8.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and is shooting a career-best 57.2 percent from the field and 41.5 percent from three.

"He's great. He's a warrior," guard Bradley Beal said. "We played against him in the past and he hurt us in some ways, but we're happy to have him for sure."

Beal, though, has just one bone to pick. Back in 2015, Scott dunked on Beal in Atlanta and Beal still isn't quite over it. Now they have lockers close to each other in the Wizards' locker room.

"I was a fan of him, but I didn't like when he dunked on me a couple years ago. I gotta sit next to him and deal with it all the time," Beal said.

And on Friday night against L.A., Scott threw one down that caused flashbacks for Beal.

"Even tonight, the dunk he had, I said 'you've gotta get a new dunk' because that brings back some bad memories," Beal said.

Beal and the Wizards are just glad Scott is on their side now. Scott is reviving his career and it just happens to be with the team located not far from where he grew up in Chesapeake, Va.

[RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS]