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Free agent options galore tip-off postseason Sunday


Free agent options galore tip-off postseason Sunday

In the context of the 2015-16 season, the Washington Wizards are no more, but the start of free agency will be here soon enough. Before July 1 arrives, the NBA playoffs provide a showcase for the various shooters, wings and bigs possibly of interest for the Wizards. After examining the upcoming free agents that started their postseason journey Saturday, we look at those getting things started Sunday. In some cases, these aren't the top tier options, but those who can help Washington fill out its roster. Even if we count restricted free agent Bradley Beal among the returning, the Wizards will have likely nine open roster spots open. 

Cleveland Cavaliers (1) vs. Detroit Pistons (8)

  • Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld stated during Thursday's press conference that the organization wasn't wedded to any specific scheme despite Washington transitioning to a pace-and-space approach this past season. That makes identifying role players a bit tricky, but Detroit forward Anthony Tolliver would be suited as a 4th or 5th big man if the plan remains the same. The 6-foot-8 veteran won't wow anyone with his steady game, but he also won't be lost on either end of the court. Tolliver, who turns 31in June, took 272 of his 332 field goal attempts this season from beyond the 3-point arc, sinking a healthy 36 percent. 


  • As for depth behind point guard John Wall, Mo Williams can op-out of his contract after a bumpy season with the Cavaliers. Steve Blake, 36, showed this season with the Pistons he can still produce as a shooter and distributor (200 assists to 81 turnovers).


East: Miami Heat (3) vs. Charlotte Hornets (6)

  • Let's mention Hassan Whiteside because the 7-foot force will easily be one of the most interesting players in free agency this summer after averaging 14.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.7 blocks for the Heat this season. There's little question about the physical and production upside with the 26-year-old, especially on the defensive end. There are major questions about whether any team can control the combustible center once handed a massive contract. Miami largely kept the emotional Whiteside in check, but not every team has a jedi like Pat Riley involved. As for the Wizards, this is a non-starter as long as Marcin Gortat remains on the roster. Also, if this is the type of player the franchise is willing to gamble on, better off calling Sacramento or DeMarcus Cousins instead.

  • We'll see what the world looks like after the playoffs, but Nicolas Batum might be the ideal (realistic) fit for the Wizards this summer (non-Kevin Durant division). Like Bradley Beal, Batum isn't a "franchise" player, but will be paid like one this summer because of market conditions. It's also fair to say the 6-foot-8 swingman helped the Hornets rebound back into a playoff squad with his two-way play and savvy skill set. The Wizards need another creator besides John Wall and Charlotte often runs its offense through Batum, who set career-highs with 14.9 points and 5.8 assists this season while grabbing 6.1 rebounds. The career 36% percent 3-point shooter has never shot below 80 percent on free throws during any of his eight seasons. Spreading the court with a Batum-Porter-Morris-Beal-Wall lineup could be deadly offensively. Snaking him from Charlotte would also weaken a division rival.

East: San Antonio Spurs (2) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (7)

  • Kevin Martin, the perennial trade deadline contract dump target, enters free agency. The 33-year-old is on the back-nine of his career, but can still be a 3-point threat (36.0% in 2015-16). Good bet the 6-foot-7 wing has at least major moment or quarter during San Antonio's postseason run. For the Wizards, Martin could be a taller and better version of Gary Neal.

  • If the goal involves getting more athletic and younger, Grizzlies guard P.J. Hairston is  worth watching. Stats generated by the former 1st round pick out of North Carolina won't wow anyone, certainly not from distance (29 percent on 3-pointers). Yet Hairston offers youth (23), good size at 6-foot-5 and his free throw percentage (81.0) indicates the potential for turning him into a better spot shooter.

West: Los Angeles Clippers (4) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (5)

  • Could this be the year the PG County kid and versatile forward returns home? By that we mean former Georgetown star Jeff Green, of course. Equally talented and confounding over his career, the Clippers forward is no longer considered a top-line player, but can be helpful and then some when his game is on point. The 6-foot-9 threat can score in bunches and provides that stretchy element from the power forward slot (career 34% 3-point shooter). Also plays small (4.9 career rebound average). Wouldn't help protect the rim yet could serve as a viable third big man capable of backing up and playing with Markieff Morris.

  • Come up with a list of random Wizards killers over the year and Gerald Henderson makes the cut. Coming off the bench primarily for the first time since his rookie season, the 6-foot-5 wing guard shot a career-high 35.3 percent from beyond the arc for surprising Portland. Henderson, 28, averages 11.7 points for his career and provides help on the other end of the court. Would serve as a Bradley Beal injury hedge, but also provide Washington with three-guard possibilities. 

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

Here are five plays or moments from the Wizards' 109-102 win over the Pacers on Saturday night that are worth revisiting... 

1. The Wizards took care of business against the Pacers on Saturday night and in doing so earned an important advantage in the playoff race. They won the season series and therefore own a tiebreaker for playoff seeding and currently that would mean home court advantage in the first round if the playoffs began today.

The Wizards took control early and part of that effort were five first-half assists by Bradley Beal. He ended up with 19 points, but some of his best plays were passes.

On this one, he executed a perfect pick-and-roll with Marcin Gortat:


2. This was another pretty pass to Gortat. Tomas Satoransky, who had 12 points and eight assists, fed Gortat with a nice reach-around pass on a play that featured some impressive ball movement overall:

3. This was a great moment. The Wizards had a member of the military surprise his niece on the court. She literally did not see it coming:


4. These last two plays are dunks by Kelly Oubre, Jr., who finished with 16 points. On this play, he cut through the and threw down with authority:

5. This dunk was set up by a beautiful pass from Ramon Sessions. It traveled about three-quarters of the court and Oubre did the rest:

The Wizards now have three days off before their next game as they sit fourth in the Eastern Conference. Things are trending positive for the Wizards as the playoff race heats up.

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Wizards take out Pacers to earn important advantage in playoff seeding

Wizards take out Pacers to earn important advantage in playoff seeding

The Washington Wizards beat the Indiana Pacers 109-102 on Saturday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Important victory: Saturday night's game between the Wizards and Pacers had several layers of playoff implications on the line and it was Washington who rose to the occasion and showed the urgency commensurate for the stakes.

By beating the Pacers, the Wizards locked up the season series between the teams, two games to one. That gives them the tiebreaker for playoff seeding if the teams finish the regular season with the same record. That could very well prove paramount. As of now, the Wizards and Pacers have the same record (40-30) with 12 games to go.

The season series advantage means the Wizards are above the Pacers in the standings despite having the same record. They moved into fourth place in the East with the win and the Cavs slotted back into third. There will likely be a lot more movement as these next few weeks play out, but the Wizards now hold an important edge over the Pacers.

The win also pushed the Wizards to 14-8 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. Wall could return this coming week or the week after and the Wizards have more than stayed afloat during his absence.

The Wizards' magic number to make the playoffs is now just five. 


Sato went off: The Wizards jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter mostly thanks to a hot start from Tomas Satoransky, who scored the Wizards' first five points and had 10 by the end of the first quarter.

Satoransky's floater was automatic. He dropped in several in the lane from all different angles. Satoransky was practicing the same shots, floaters off each foot, the day before in practice and it paid off.

It was a well-rounded night for Satoransky. In addition to his 12 points, he also had eight assists and five rebounds, including this one to find Marcin Gortat for the dunk:

Gortat came up big: Speaking of Gortat, the Wizards' big man had one of his best games of the season. He poured in 18 points to go along with eight rebounds, four assists a steal and a block. Gortat shot 6-for-8, consistently having his way on the block.

The Pacers were without two of their best big men in Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis and Gortat took advantage of that. He was way too much for Al Jefferson.

The Pacers tried to roll with small-ball lineups using Trevor Booker and Thaddeus Young as their big men, but it didn't work. Gortat was too big for them and his teammates did a great job finding him for open looks.

Gortat's 18 points were his most since Jan. 3 when he had a season-high 21 against the Knicks. Lately, Gortat has seen his minutes dwindle with the increased role for Ian Mahinmi, so Saturday night must have felt good for the Polish Machine.


Bojan held in check: Bojan Bogdanovic, who spent part of last season with the Wizards, was a major factor in the first two matchups between Washington and the Pacers this season. He had 20 points in one game and 29 in another, each time getting hot from three.

The Wizards, though, made some adjustments in this one and held Bo Buckets in check. He didn't make his first shot until nearly the midway point of the second quarter and it was only because Kelly Oubre, Jr. (16 points, 18 minutes) lost his balance. Oubre stumbled backward, giving Bogdanovic a split second to get off an open three. That was the only shot he hit in the first half as he began the game 1-for-4.

Oubre did a good job harrassing Bogdanovic and not giving him space on the premiter. Otto Porter (eight points) and Bradley Beal (19 points) did as well. Both Porter and Beal stripped the ball out of Bogdanovic's hands early in the third quarter. Midway through the third, Bogdanovic got past Porter only to be called for an offensive foul on a collision with Gortat. All in all, it was a frustrating night for Bogdanovic, who had 11 points, three below his season average.

Bogdanovic is a very good shooter and when he's hot can alter games. But when you take his shots away, there's not much else he can do to hurt you. The Wizards did a good job taking away his strengths and making others beat them. Not having to focus on Turner and Sabonis certainly helped. 

Sessions is still in the rotation: It turns out those five games for Ramon Sessions over the course of his second 10-day contract weren't just an audition. Now that he has been signed for the rest of the season, Sessions is still getting the nod over Tim Frazier as the backup point guard.

Sessions logged 18 minutes and even played alongside Satoransky and Jodie Meeks in the fourth quarter. The Wizards had a sizable lead and head coach Scott Brooks decided to experiment with his lineups. That is something to keep in mind for when Wall comes back. Once he does, Sessions will be the third point guard and likely rarely see the court. But if they see something they like about him at shooting guard, that could open the door for more playing time possibilities.

Up next: The Wizards have three off-days before their next game. That will be on Wednesday when they head to San Antonio to face the Spurs. Tipoff is at 9:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. Pregame coverage begins at 8:30 p.m. with Wizards HangTime.

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