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John Wall thinks increase in national TV games for Wizards great for franchise and city of D.C.

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John Wall thinks increase in national TV games for Wizards great for franchise and city of D.C.

Last August, when the NBA released its schedule for the 2016-17 regular season, the Wizards were only guaranteed five games on national television. Months later, on Dec. 28, the Wizards lost one of those games, as ESPN flexed their matchup against the Celtics on Jan. 11 out in favor of Grizzlies vs. Thunder.

Wizards guard John Wall retweeted the news with a simple 'Lol' and later discussed in more detail how the Wizards were overlooked by the league and networks when it comes to national television. He spoke about the matter numerous times, making it clear he cares about the attention his team receives.

Wall, naturally, is much happier with the slate for 2017-18, as the Wizards have been given 18 national TV games. They will play nearly 22 percent of their regular season on national television.

"It's great," Wall said. "I think we could have had that in the past. We had a heck of a season last year. We fell short of what we wanted to. It just means we're getting the recognition we wanted in the one of the most powerful cities in the world in basketball and sports, period. To have that, with them showing us love having our first game of the season on TV, then having a Christmas game and those types of things, that's what I think our city needs and what we want. It's big for us."


The fact the Wizards and Celtics had a game flexed out of national TV last season, but now have all four of their games in 2017-18 set for major networks, is not lost on Wall.

"When we got in that little altercation [with the Celtics], I said that every game from now on should be on [national] TV. It wasn't. Well, now every game this year is on [national] TV, so I'm fine with that," he said.

The Wizards will also play their season opener on Oct. 18 at home against the Sixers on national TV. Three of their four games against Philadelphia and the Cleveland Cavaliers will be nationally televised.

Getting this level of recognition is new for Wall and the Wizards. Wall is more used to being overlooked and drawing motivation from that.

Wall knows this is new territory for him and his teammates, and how things could change accordingly.

"I think that going into this season, our teammates have to understand what we have ahead of us. We're not going in as underdogs now. Now people to understand what we're capable of and what we have to do," he said.



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Wizards pick up Kelly Oubre, Jr.'s contract option with bright future ahead


Wizards pick up Kelly Oubre, Jr.'s contract option with bright future ahead

The play of Kelly Oubre, Jr. over the past calendar year had made the Wizards picking up his contract option an increasingly easy decision. On Saturday, they opted to keep him for the fourth year of his rookie contract, the 2018-19 season, and did so with a week to spare before the deadline.

Oubre, 21, has emerged as a key contributor for a Wizards team with expectations of a deep playoff run. He is still finding his trule role in the NBA, but with his youth and potential, and the fact he's still on a rookie deal, Oubre has a unique place on their roster.

John Wall and Bradley Beal have already emerged as stars. Otto Porter still has room to get much better, but has already arrived and earned a max contract. Oubre, though already established in their rotation, has plenty of room to grow.

Oubre, the 15th overall pick in 2015, doubled his minutes last season to 20.3 per game under head coach Scott Brooks with averages of 6.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 0.7 steals per game. He earned Brooks' trust mainly on the defensive end with his versatility and high motor.

Consistency is where Oubre needs to improve, but through two games this season he appears to have taken another step. Oubre added two inches to his vertical leap over the summer despite rehabbing from platelet-rich plasma treatment on his right knee. He also gained some muscle, allowing him to make strides as a rebounder. Oubre has 15 rebounds through two games and said it's specific focus of his.


The Wizards are a good enough offensive team currently to where Oubre can focus on defense and rebounding. But his growing confidence on offense has been evident so far this year and especially in the preseason. He has worked on dribbling with his right hand and the result is more aggression attacking the rim. Though still not a polished product, Oubre is taking small steps to emerge as a more dangerous scoring threat.

The Wizards will have another decision to make on Oubre this time next year. One day before the 2018-19 regular season begins, they will have to choose whether to hand Oubre a rookie scale contract extension. They weren't able to beat that deadline with Porter and the next summer he received a $106.5 million max deal after hitting the market as a restricted free agent. 

Oubre at this very moment wouldn't command that type of money in free agency, but the same was said about Porter at this point in his career. Porter was able to improve significantly in his fourth season.

Wizards majority owner Ted Leonsis said this summer that he would love to have Oubre force the issue with his performance on the court.

"He's going to come back and work really, really hard and challenge us to pay him a lot of money, too, which I'm glad to do," Leonsis said. 

It's early in the season, but Oubre may be on his way towards making the Wizards ponder his long-term future.

The Washington Post first reported Oubre's contract option getting picked up.



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John Wall doesn't hold LaVar Ball's talking against Lonzo, but knows 'he'll be targeted'

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John Wall doesn't hold LaVar Ball's talking against Lonzo, but knows 'he'll be targeted'

Clippers guard Patrick Beverley made a point to embarrass Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball in the latter's NBA debut. After dominating him on the court, Beverley said he had to "set the tone." 

On Wednesday, Wizards point guard John Wall will get a crack at Ball when Washington plays the Lakers at the Staples Center. Wall knows why Beverley went after Ball like that, but says he doesn't blame Ball himself.

"I think his dad put him in a situation where guys are going to target him," Wall said on the Wizards Tipoff podcast, referencing LaVar Ball. "Lonzo is one of those kids that is very talented. He's been a good player for years, he just don't say much. I think his dad does all the talking for him."

Ball, 19, was the second overall pick in this June's NBA Draft. He had just three points on 1-of-6 shooting against the Clippers on Wednesday, but bounced back for 29 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists against the Suns on Friday. 

Wall thinks Ball will be fine as long as he can keep up his production on the court to back up his dad's trash-talking.

"He's a great kid from what I've seen on the outside looking in," Wall said. "A lot of people in this league are going to take it personally. It's not the son's fault. He went back and had a better game [vs. the Suns]. That's all he's gotta do is go out there and play. He's not gonna do any talking anyways. If he gets killed or don't get killed or kills somebody, he's not going to be the guy talking."

Wall is as competitive as they come and will give Ball a tough challenge on Wednesday night, but it doesn't sound like he plans to pull a Beverley and overtly embarrass him.

Listen to Wall's full 1-on-1 interview on the Wizards Tipoff podcast: