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Best remaining free agent options for Wizards


Best remaining free agent options for Wizards

Four wild days of NBA free agency are in the books. Most of the biggest targets are now in new homes (LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre Jordan, Greg Monroe) or stayed put (Dwyane Wade, Kevin Love, Kawhi Leonard) or remain waiting just cause (LeBron James, Marc Gasol). Notables from the other tiers are now off the table, including upside big men (Brandan Wright), steady veterans (Mike Dunleavy Jr.,), shooters (Marco Belinelli), floor leaders (C.J. Watson) and lottery tickets (Thomas Robinson). 

Yet viable free agents remain. Here's a look at the best remaining targets with the Wizards in mind (so no James, Gasol or Tristan Thompson), but first:

  • As of Sunday morning the Wizard's depth chart includes 13 players. Logic suggests at one of those spots goes for a tall player seeing as they haven't replaced either Drew Gooden or Kevin Seraphin. There is some reason to think the replacement might be the actual Gooden (stretch-4, rebounder, locker room plus) and perhaps even the real Seraphin

  • The Wizards don't have to fill out the entire roster now. Last season they kept space open heading into training camp and Rasual Butler grabbed the opportunity. Perhaps former Maryland guard and undrafted rookie Dez Wells becomes this year's 15th man. One report suggests they might target a big man and a wing sooner than later.

  • Four remain off the initial of 10 names to watch for the Wizards, a group that included Jared Dudley and Gary Neal. However, Omri Casspi and Mirza Teletovic are stretch-4 types and Washington already acquired Dudley. Jason Richardson could become an interesting veteran scorer off the bench, but that also describes Neal. The final name, Luc Mbah a Moute, could work as a defender/combo forward, but at 6-foot-8 he doesn't have rim protector size.

  • Power forward David West reportedly remains a target for the Wizards, Spurs and Cavaliers. The ex-Pacer's best hope for playing time might be in San Antonio even with the Aldridge signing. Of the three, Cleveland has the clearest path to the NBA Finals. Washington can in theory pay the highest salary thanks to the mid-level exception. His mid-range is on point and West's veteran presence would offset the loss of Paul Pierce. Still hard seeing how he fits with Nene, but he would help.

  • Guard Rodney Stuckey, forward Josh Smith, bench scorer J.R. Smith, power forward Darrell Arthur, athletic swingman Gerald Green, wing shooters Dorell Wright and Wayne Ellington are among the other top names seemingly in play for just about any team.

- Stuckey would become Washington's third guard and second unit go-to scorer. Again, it would seem this ship has sailed after the Neal signing. Same goes for Wright and Ellington.

- Neither of the talented, but super frustrating and high volume shooting Smith's can be considered seriously for coach Randy Wittman. On some level, same goes for Toronto's Lou Williams. Chemistry concerns exist with the reigning NBA sixth-man of the year. 

- Arthur is a physical presence inside, albeit undersized to play heavy minutes at center. This might not be an issue for Washington if they view Nene as Gortat's primary backup.

- Green is a fan favorite thanks to his dunking prowess, though his game has evolved beyond just plays above the rim. Solid scorer and 3-point shooter who averaged 20 minutes a game last season. Hard seeing how he gets that kind of run with the Wizards unless the team see Dudley purely as a 4-man and wants another small forward to pair with Otto Porter. Wright (38% 3pt shooter) could also enter this discussion.

  • If you notice, no real centers mentioned so far. Seraphin is arguably the top option left now that Kousta Koufas (Sacramento) and Bismack Biyombo (Toronto) signed with new teams. Ample playing time doesn't exist in Washington on the surface. Yet the same thing was said for Seraphin going into last year and he tied John Wall for second in games played (79). Though not a shot blocker, he can certainly score and would be the only true 4/5 in the rotation under 30. Perhaps both sides agree that a one-year deal serves all needs. Seraphin's side probably wants to hear from center needy teams like the Clippers before making a move.

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: How they can keep it rolling in Game 5


Wizards Tipoff podcast: How they can keep it rolling in Game 5

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes, Travis Thomas and Julie Donaldson reset the series and looked ahead to Game 5.

They were joined by TSN Sports anchor Kayla Grey to find out the Toronto perspective. The Wizards have all the momentum in this series, now they just have to keep it going.

You can listen to the episode 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!

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Even after injury-riddled year, Wizards are seeing peak John Wall in playoffs

Even after injury-riddled year, Wizards are seeing peak John Wall in playoffs

You would not have known it by John Wall's towering poster-dunks over Jonas Valanciunas and Jakob Poeltl in Game 4, or his fourth quarter takeover after Bradley Beal fouled out, but Wall is still technically working his way into midseason form from the left knee surgery that kept him out more than two months down the stretch of the regular season. Add into the equation that he sprained his right ankle in Game 3, then resprained it in Game 4 right after Beal went out, and it's quite clear that what he is doing is simply not normal. 

Throughout Wall's recovery, his head coach Scott Brooks remarked how Wall can regain his form unusually quick following an injury absence. Game 4 was just his eighth game back, yet through four playoff games he is averaging an absurd 26.8 points, 13.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 1.0 blocks.

If that's what he's doing eight games removed from recovery, and against the top team in the Eastern Conference, what does peak playoff form look like? 

"I told y'all, I told all the media that I only need like three or four games. I really didn't need too many games," he said. "All the hard work that I did in those two months was to prepare myself to be ready for the playoffs."

Wall said he started feeling like himself in his final regular season game, his fourth outing following the injury rehab. It was against the Celtics and he scored 29 points to go along with 12 assists, seven rebounds, three blocks and three steals.

"I just started to see shots fall down that I was falling short with a couple games before that," Wall said of that night.

Brooks saw a change in Wall against the Cavaliers on April 5, in just his third game back. That game Wall put up 28 points, 14 assists, four rebounds and three steals. Most importantly, he logged 38 minutes.

"I knew I was going to challenge his body with extra minutes," Brooks said. "The way he responded to that, I knew he was back."

Whenever the turning point happened, there is no looking back. Wall has found his groove to not only impact, but at times dominate playoff games against one of the best defensive teams in basketball.

In Game 4 once Beal went down, Wall looked like the best player on the court. He scored eight of the Wizards' final 14 points to seal the victory and did so on a bum ankle. He outshined both DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, two All-Star guards.

Wall even played sound defense on DeRozan in big moments. DeRozan shot 10-for-29 in the game.

"I think I did a good job of contesting him," Wall said. "Just do whatever it takes to help this team win."

What Brooks predicted would happen has indeed played out. He has been with Wall for about two years now and knows what the star point guard is made of.

"I've been with him two years, he loves to play," Brooks said, noting there have been some tough conversations to convince him to come out of games.

Consider this: Wall has scored 20 points or more in six straight games, his longest streak of the 2017-18 season. He has actually reached 23 points or more in those six games, which is tied for the longest such streak of his entire career.

Through eight games overall and four games in the playoffs, Wall has reminded everyone of what the Wizards missed. Yes, they went 10-3 when he first went down with the injury in late January, but that was not sustainable.

They need Wall to reach their full potential as a team and especially in the postseason. Late-game situations like in Game 4, when Beal exited and it was tied with 4:58 to play, are when the superstars separate themselves.

Wall did that and now the Wizards are in good shape with the series at 2-2 and having won two straight.

"Blame everything on him," Brooks joked of the Wizards' up-and-down regular season. "If he wasn't hurt, we'd be better, right?"

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