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Morning tip: Despite no cap space, Wizards can be picky


Morning tip: Despite no cap space, Wizards can be picky

In a few days, when the trade for Jared Dudley can be made official, the Wizards will have rebooted their roster with another quality replacement without having any cap space. They used one of two remaining trade exceptions and still have the mid-level and bi-annual exceptions at their disposal, too.

This puts them in a good position. They can act now and simply take the best player available in free agency with the $5.5 million mid-level. Or they could wait and see how everything shakes out. Every year, a quality player (see Paul Pierce last summer) gets squeezed out. Pierce's first choice was the Los Angeles Clippers, who he left for earlier this week, but they'd used their mid-level on Spencer Hawes and he wasn't willing to take the veteran minimum ($1.4 million) no matter how much he liked coach Doc Rivers. Rivers, who also makes personnel decisions, acted too quickly in rewarding Hawes rather than being patient. Imagine how much better the 56-win Clippers would've done in this past season's playoffs with Pierce instead of Hawes who contributed zilch. 

So there's nothing wrong with waiting. Another quality player will be out there, likely a veteran who wants to join a playoff team that can get deep and contend. Where the Wizards stand going into Day 3 of free agency, keeping in mind they can have as many as 15 players under contract for the start of the 2015-16 regular season:

Under contract: John Wall, Bradley Beal, Ramon Sessions, Otto Porter, Garrett Temple, Martell Webster, Nene, Marcin Gortat, Kelly Oubre, Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair and Dudley (12).

Most likely free agent to return: Drew Gooden (1).

Best fit from free-agent pool: David West, Rodney Stuckey, Lou Williams, Chris Copeland, Gerald Green, Derrick Williams, Wayne Ellington.

Using history as a guide, the Wizards prefer to keep one spot open to keep flexibility. That comes in handy during the season for transactions such as signing a free agent for need in the event of an injury or a quality veteran being bought out of his deal by the January deadline. And it also allows them to have room for a player such as Dez Wells, who is on the summer league roster as an undrafted free agent, to possibly earn a spot by training camp. Fill the final spot now before surveying diamonds in the rough at summer league (including free agents on other rosters) and the Wizards could regret it. 

This would mean they'd likely use the mid-level, an exception to the cap that's available each season, and not use the bi-annual. Of course, Gooden isn't guaranteed to return for a third season which would create another spot. But his 6-10 frame, ability to stretch to the three-point line and affordability might be too tempting to pass up. Why go for Copeland, a similar player who opted out of a contract with the Indiana Pacers that paid him more than $3 million, when Gooden can be had for less and has been shown loyalty to the franchise?

These are decisions that face the Wizards in the coming days.

[MORE: How dealing for traded-player exceptions helped net Dudley]

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Wizards blown out by Spurs, as streak of losses in San Antonio since 1999 continues

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Wizards blown out by Spurs, as streak of losses in San Antonio since 1999 continues

The Washington Wizards lost to the San Antonio Spurs 98-90 on Wednesday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Streak continues: Many will tell you that San Antonio, TX is a wonderful city rife with history, good restaurants and warm weather. Please excuse the Washington Wizards if they hate the place.

They lost to the Spurs in a blowout on Wednesday and remain winless in San Antonio going all the way back to 1999. It was their 18th straight loss when playing at the Spurs.

The Spurs win games with their defense and this one was no exception. The Wizards scored their fewest points since Jan. 22, nearly two months, and shot just 42.7 percent. The Spurs hold opponents to the lowest points per game in the NBA (99.0) and the Wizards fell into all of their traps.

Bradley Beal was the only one immune to it. He had 21 points on 9-for-13 shooting. The rest of the Wizards shot just 26-for-69 (37.7%).

Losing in San Antonio has come to be expected for the Wizards, but they picked a bad night to drop a game. The Cavaliers and Sixers both won. Philly winning means more because they passed the Wizards in the East and currently sit fourth while the Wizards are in the sixth spot. 

If the playoffs began with those seeds, the Wizards would see the Cavaliers in the first round. Even though the Cavs aren't what they were a year ago, that should be avoided if possible.


Hustle plays: The Spurs also beat the Wizards at the minor details of the game, something they have long been good at under head coach Gregg Popovich. They got the loose balls and offensive rebounds at key moments to either sustain or steal momentum away from Washington.

In the first half, 40-year-old Manu Ginobli dove on the ground to beat Ramon Sessions to a loose ball and it led to two points by Pau Gasol. In the third quarter, Patty Mills flipped around quickly to steal an outlet pass from Marcin Gortat that led to free throws. And in the third there was one play when the Spurs got three offensive rebounds and ultimately got to the free throw line again.

The Spurs out-rebounded the Wizards 43-34 overall and outdid them in offensive rebounds 12-8. They just wanted it more on this particular night.


Oubre stood out: The Spurs' defense got the best of most players on the Wizards, but Kelly Oubre, Jr. was an exception. The third-year pro has been struggling with his shot in recent weeks, so in this one he stuck to high percentage looks, at least early. He had 10 points in his first nine minutes on 5-for-7 shooting, many of those attempts right around the rim.

Oubre attacked the lane dribbling both to his left and his right. He finished with floaters, tough layups and on one fastbreak with a thunderous left-handed slam:

Oubre ended up with 21 points, six rebounds, two steals and two blocks. He shot 9-for-17 from the field and 3-for-6 from three.

Oubre has continued to make an impact defensively, even when his shot is not falling. But he has to get more creative some nights to affect games when he isn't hitting from long range. Wednesday was a good example of how he can use his athleticism to take matters into his own hands.

It is a tricky balance, however, because sometimes his aggression can lead to mistakes. That certainly happened at times even in this game, as he had two turnovers. But when Oubre can contain his explosiveness, he can make a big difference.


Under the weather: Already without Wall, the Wizards had to shorten their rotation by two players against the Spurs as both Jodie Meeks and Mike Scott were out due to flu-like symptoms. In Meeks and Scott, the Wizards were missing two key pieces on their bench.

Instead of giving Tim Frazier and Jason Smith a rare and extended opportunity, head coach Scott Brooks instead chose to tighted things up. He relied heavily on the starters until the game was out of hand.

Brooks also got experimental, playing Tomas Satoransky (zero points, 0-for-7 FG) and Sessions together in the second quarter with Oubre and Otto Porter (12 points, seven rebounds) as the forwards. In the fourth quarter, we saw a lineup with three point guards: Sessions, Frazier and Satoransky.

The fact the Wizards had three days off before this game helped allow Brooks to rely on his starters early. It was also an opportunity for Brooks to see what life will be like when Wall returns. There is a chance Satoransky could see more time off the ball. This gave him another glimpse of how he can use Satoransky in more creative ways once the minutes at point guard go down significantly.


Up next: The Wizards are off Thursday before returning home to host the Denver Nuggets on Friday with a 7 p.m. tipoff on NBC Sports Washington. That will be a special night at Capital One Arena as the Wizards retire Phil Chenier's No. 45 jersey. 

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Should Bradley Beal be an All-NBA selection?


Wizards Tipoff podcast: Should Bradley Beal be an All-NBA selection?

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, host Chase Hughes was joined by guest co-host Travis Thomas to break down Bradley Beal's All-NBA chances and John Wall's injury rehab.

They also discussed the crazy Eastern Conference playoff race, Trae Young's draft stock and essentials for a good snow day.

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!