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With Gasol to be free agent, worth look in Wizards' Plan B


With Gasol to be free agent, worth look in Wizards' Plan B

The assumption is that the Wizards are going for Kevin Durant and no one else in free agency, which isn't true. Every summer there's a pecking order. Two years ago it was Trevor Ariza, who left as a free agent instead, and they moved quickly to slot in Paul Pierce. This year, Pierce bolted and adjustments were made to compensate with Jared Dudley, Alan Anderson and Gary Neal.

So let's assume, for the sake of argument, that Durant will opt to stay with the Oklahoma City Thunder or go elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent in 2016. What then?

Pau Gasol, 35, of the Chicago Bulls already put himself on the market when he told CSNchicago.com's Bulls Insider Vince Goodwill this week that he plans to opt out of the final year of a three-year, $22.3 million deal. The salary cap is expected to jump almost $20 million next summer so most players would be smart to opt out and renegotiate or get a better deal elsewhere.

Gasol is averaging 14.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.0 blocks in his 15th season.

While he's no longer the dominant, missing piece to the puzzle that he was to Kobe Bryant, when the Lakers acquired him in a 2007-08 midseason deal and advanced to three consecutive NBA Finals, Gasol is still pretty good. He doesn't rely on athleticism or blazing speed to get to his spots, so he can last longer at an advanced age (see Tim Duncan).

After getting 26 points, 19 rebounds, four blocks and three assists in a win against the Denver Nuggets, Gasol told Goodwill that it is "very likely" that he’ll opt-out of his contract. “As long as I keep playing like this,” Gasol said, “I know I’ll have some options.”

The Wizards only will have John Wall, Marcin Gortat, Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre under contract with the right to match any offer for Bradley Beal as a restricted free agent. Everyone else, and that includes every big behind Gortat and power forwards, are either unrestricted (Nene, Ryan Hollins) or the Wizards hold team options (Drew Gooden, Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair).

Nene, 33, appears to be at the end with his constant injury setbacks, Blair can't get on the floor even when Gortat is in foul trouble and Humphries is mired in an identity crisis as he tries to expand his game as a "stretch" four. Gooden, who at 6-10 has three-point range, appears the most likely of the bunch to stick if he can get over the injury bug that has slowed his start to this season.

Dudley, Neal and Anderson will be unrestricted as well Ramon Sessions and Garrett Temple.

RELATED 5 coolest moments of Kobe's glorious postgame press conference

There will be a lot of money on the table, but a lot of teams will be in a holding pattern until Durant reveals his answer. And when he does, there will be a free-for-all of the best of the rest. With the salary-cap space available, there's an interesting mix of players who could be had

Unrestricted free agents (restricted free agents/player holding options not included):

  • Al Horford (Hawks)
  • Hassan Whiteside (Heat)
  • Al Jefferson (Hornets)
  • Joakim Noah (Bulls)
  • Mo Speights (Warriors)
  • Timofey Mozgov (Cavs)
  • Nicolas Batum (Hornets)
  • Ryan Anderson (Pelicans)
  • Eric Gordon (Pelicans)
  • Jeff Green (Grizzlies)
  • Dwyane Wade (Heat)

Restricted free agents are tricky because all it takes is one team to sign a player to an offer sheet and it drives up his price-tag considerably and a team risks overpaying (see Enes Kanter). 

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Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch


Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:


Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

On a roll

The Wizards have some serious momentum going right now. With an impressive win over the Cavs on Thursday, they have now won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. They had a week off due to the All-Star break, but didn't show any rust at all in their first game back.

The Wizards are now 34-24, 10 games above the .500 mark. They are fourth in the East and could move into third on Friday if they win and the Cavaliers lose. Even with Wall out, things continue to look up for Washington.


Hornets have had their number

The Wizards haven't done so well against the Hornets so far this season. Charlotte has taken both meetings and that includes a 24-point win on Jan. 17. That game featured Dwight Howard taunting the Wizards late in the fourth quarter.

Howard has killed the Wizards through two games with averages of 22.0 points and 14.0 rebounds. Jeremy Lamb (20.0 ppg vs. Wizards) has been a big factor as well as All-Star Kemba Walker (21.5 ppg vs. Wizards).

The last time these teams played about a month ago frustrations boiled over in an incident that got Tim Frazier ejected. Michael Carter-Williams picked a fight with Jason Smith and Frazier went off:


Hornets coming in hot

The Hornets are outside the playoff picture at the moment at eight games below .500, but they have won two straight games and Walker and Howard are coming off huge games. In a win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, Walker dropped 31 points and Howard grabbed 24 rebounds.

Those guys will be riding a high coming into Washington on Friday. But it should be noted that Howard complained after the game how tired he is at this point in the season. That exhausion could affect him more in the second game of a back-to-back.



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5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

5 must-see moments from Wizards' huge road win over Cavaliers, including Markieff Morris' alley-oop

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 110-103 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night...

1. The Wizards didn't start out well, as they trailed by nine points at the end of the first quarter. Kelly Oubre, Jr. stumbled early by missing four of his first six shots and it looked like a carryover of his slump before the All-Star break.

But Oubre got hot in the second quarter and helped the Wizards turn the game around. This was one of his best plays, a two-handed slam that he celebrated with an emphatic scream to the crowd:


2. Tomas Satoransky was one of the stars of the game. He had 17 points to go along with eight assists, four rebounds and two steals. 

Here's one of his dimes, a perfect alley-oop lob to Markieff Morris, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds:

3. Satoransky has reached double-figures in six of the 10 games since John Wall went out with an injury. This was a very impressive move, a stepback fadeaway that was super smooth:


4. Ian Mahinmi made some key contributions including four offensive rebounds and a steal. This was his best basket, a powerful slam that came at a key time:

5. This play helped seal the victory. It was a smart after-timeout set drawn up by head coach Scott Brooks and it worked to perfection: