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Free agency primer: 10 names to watch for the Wizards


Free agency primer: 10 names to watch for the Wizards

NBA Free agency officially starts at midnight. Here's a few of things you need to ponder with the Washington Wizards in mind.

These players either address needs -- primarily stretch-4 and wing depth --, should come at the right price or both. Listed in order of personal intrigue. Thought of with the idea that Paul Pierce sticks around, but could largely work either way. (Names like Mike Dunleavy Jr., Alan Anderson and Dorell Wright join the list if Pierce bolts.) Also intriguing is the idea that some mid-level free agents may opt for 1-year deals to take advantage of the exploding salary cap in 2016. 

The Wizards don't have room for huge moves, but they have options. Washington has the mid-level and bi-annual exceptions plus trade exceptions including one for $4.6 million. 

Kyle O'Quinn - The 6-foot-10 forward and former Norfolk State star got lost in Orlando's youthful roster. Rebounder with a mid-range game and a developing 3-point shot also provides some rim protection and does so in a burly 25-year-old body. O'Quinn's 14.9 PER last season would have ranked fifth on the Wizards. Restricted free agent, but that shouldn't be deterrent. 

Brandan Wright - This is how SBNation describes the springy and unrestricted big man: 

Wright is a new-school center who blocks shots and dunks everything. He’s a JV version of Tyson Chandler, more or less. As we’ve learned from Chandler, this type of center needs a virtuoso point guard and a coach who believes in defense first. That said, he’s likely to be a steal for the umpteenth consecutive season. 

That description screams John Wall and Randy Wittman, right?

Jared Dudley - As of Tuesday morning we don't even know if the 6-foot-7 forward with 3-point range will actually enter free agency. The 29-year-old must inform the Milwaukee Bucks whether he plans on opting into his $4.25 million contract. Interesting fit even if Pierce stays thanks to his stretch-4 capabilities (career 40% 3-point shooter). Personality plus.

[UPDATE - Dudley did indeed opt in on Tuesday.]

Omri Casspi - The 27-year-old forward from Israel sank 46 percent of his 3-point attempts for the Sacramento Kings after the All-Star break. The 6-foot-9 Casspi also works as a DeMarcus Cousins approved headband adjusting option on the bench. Earned $1 million last season.

Marco Belinelli - Key reserve for the Spurs might bolt as San Antonio focuses on Aldridge and keeping Danny Green. The 6-foot-5 swingman can play all over the court. Strong 3-point shooter. Title-winning experience. Could serve as third guard, but also swing up to small forward. Made $2.9 million last season.

Mirza Teletovic - The 6-foot-9 Bosnian screams stretch-4 target. The 29-year-old was sidelined for four months after blood clots in his lungs were discovered, but he returned in the playoffs.

Jonas Jerebko - Another international forward with perimeter shooting skills. Blossomed following trade from Detroit to Boston. Shot 41 percent from deep and averaged 7.1 points and 4.8 rebounds in 18 minutes over 29 games with the Celtics.

Jan Vesely - Nah, he doesn't count among the 10. Just wanted to see if you were still paying attention. By the way, Vesely is only 25. He still gets another shot in the league, right?

Gary Neal - The Wizards still need an instant-offense type scorer off the bench. The Baltimore native has played for four teams over the last two seasons and his 3-point shooting suffered with all the moves. Playing with Wall can help fix that. 

Luc Mbah a Moute - Doesn't change the game offensively (39.5 FG%), but the combo forward is considered one of the league's better defenders. Wittman covets defense. 

Jason Richardson - Injuries have crushed the power guard in recent seasons. He hasn't played more than 55 games since 2010-11 and turns 35 in January. However, Richardson is a 37% career shooter from beyond the arc. He brings a rugged and tough-minded approach. Can carry an offense for spurts when right. Might come cheap after four seasons playing the Magic and 76ers. This year's Rasual Butler?

MORE WIZARDS: Pick n' Roll: Who's more likely to change teams, Cousins or Love?

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Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Associated Press

Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Bradley Beal may have had a slow start in the three-point contest on Saturday night, but in Sunday's All-Star Game he worked quickly to make the most of his relatively small window of playing time.

Beal checked in for the first time with 5:45 left in the first quarter and less than 25 seconds later had his first points on a two-handed dunk assisted by LeBron James.

In his All-Star debut, Beal helped lead Team LeBron to a 148-145 victory over Team Stephen as the league utilizied a new format for the annual showcase.


Beal finished with 14 points and a steal in a productive night. He shot 5-for-10 from the field and an impressive 4-for-8 from long range. 

Beal also tried to get a travelling call from the refs on Karl-Anthony Towns. Yeah, that's not likely to happen in an All-Star Game:

Beal more than held his own and only played 16 minutes, which was good considering he has logged the fifth-most minutes of any player so far this season. A realistic best-case scenario was a strong showing and a short night and that's exactly what he got.

Not only does Beal play a lot of minutes, the Wizards need him now more than ever with John Wall's injury. He needs whatever rest he can get during this All-Star break.

Speaking of Wall, he was in the house despite being in the middle of his rehab from left knee surgery. Per usual, Wall was shining bright:


The All-Star Game wasn't all about Beal, of course. Here are some other things that stood out...

*The new format and increased financial incentive were intended to make the game more competitive and that's what happened late in the fourth quarter. Usually, that's how these things go where the players will start trying at the end. But this time it seemed to be up a few levels and it was fun to watch. 

Both teams scored in the 140s, so it wasn't exactly a defensive battle. No matter what the league does, the players will only try so hard for so long. The main goal of everyone's is to not get injured in a game that ultimately doesn't count for anything. Still, this was different and appears to have been a success.

*While everyone was focusing on the reunion of LeBron and Kyrie Irving the best beef was Joel Embiid vs. Russell Westbrook. Those two have traded waves to taunt each other at the end of wins in head-to-head matchups and it was clear on Sunday they still don't like each other. Westbrook tried to dunk all over Embiid in the first half, only to get blocked at the rim.

Westbrook's determination to dunk on Embiid was out of the ordinary for an All-Star Game. It was obvious what was on his mind:

*Irving's handles are simply ridiculous. Check out this fake behind-the-back move he pulled with Giannis Antetkounmpo guarding him. Yes, it didn't fool the defender but it was impressive nonetheless:

*LeBron is 33 years old, yet he was still running up and down the court faster than anyone and leaping above the rim to thrown down alley-oop after alley-oop. It is truly amazing and everyone should enjoy watching him while they can, regardless of whether they like the guy or not.

This was one of his dunks:

LeBron took home MVP with a game-high 29 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and a steal.

*The pregame show was quite bad. It was anchored by comedians Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle and, though they had some funny jokes, it lasted nearly 30 minutes. The whole thing was pretty much universally panned on social media. Fergie's national anthem was also roasted by the masses.

*The halftime show was much better. It began with N.E.R.D taking it back to their older days with 'Lapdance,' went to Migos performing 'Stir Fry' and swung back to N.E.R.D. who did their latest hit 'Lemon.' 


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The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

Whoever put together the NBA All-Star Game player introductions has some 'splainin to do. 

The NBA introduced a kinda-full Staples Center to their 2018 All-Stars about an hour ago, and boy was it weird. There were a lot of dancers in different themed costumes. Kevin Hart was screaming. Rob Riggle was screaming. Ludacris showed up? Hey! Did you know that the Barenaked Ladies are still a band? The NBA would like you to know they're still around.  The whole thing was like when you're at an art museum and you're told that abstract piece in the corner is actually really meaningful but you gotta be honest, you don't get it. 

Anyways, the internet hated it. Here are some highlights from the internet hating it:

The lesson here is that you never need Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle. One will do.