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Morning tip: Josh Harrellson's ticket back to NBA

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Morning tip: Josh Harrellson's ticket back to NBA

When Josh Harrellson first came to the NBA as a rookie in 2011, he was fortunate that he ended up with the New York Knicks who valued a 6-11 three-point shooter. Thanks to then-coach Mike D'Antoni.

"I shot a lot of threes in my rookie year with D'Antoni because that's how he played," said Harrellson, 26, who has played for three different teams and is competing for a roster spot with the Wizards as a free agent. "He spaced the floor with one big so he was the first coach to start playing that style. I thrived in that offense. How the NBA is going I think I can start thriving again."

It's still an uphill climb. The Wizards have the maximum 15 guaranteed contracts for the regular season, so it's going to require them really believing in Harrellson, or one of the other four free agents, to make a move. They could release a player such as DeJuan Blair, pay him the full amount of his guarantee and acquire another player at the minimum and still be under the luxury tax. Or they could simply be taking a closer look at Harrellson with an eye towards 2016 when the only big under contract could be Marcin Gortat.

D'Antoni often was ridiculed for his fast-paced style, spreading the floor with four shooters as coach of the Phoenix Suns but they couldn't get past the Western Conference finals. But with the Golden State Warriors winning the NBA crown even more teams have adopted a similar style, including the Wizards with Gortat as the lone big in the middle. 

"Spreads the floor. Smart player, in the right spots which he has to be," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said of Harrellson. "I think he understands who he is, how he can be effective on the floor. Stays away from things he can't do. That's the important thing. ... Stay to your strengths and stay away things that get you in trouble."

Harrellson's best season was his rookie year when he averaged 4.4 points and 3.9 rebounds off the bench for a playoff team in a lockout-shortened season. D'Antoni, unfortunately for him, was fired. Harrellson then spent time with the Miami Heat and lastly with the Detroit Pistons in 2013-14.

He went virtually unnoticed while he at Kentucky, where he spent three seasons before being taken in the second round. Harrellson was a teammate of John Wall when they made a run to the NCAA regional finals but DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson and Daniel Orton (all eventual first-round NBA draft picks) earned the playing time and the attention. 

"He was making threes in college," Wall said. "We just didn't play him as much because we had DeMarcus and Daniel and Pat so it was tough to get him playing time. He could always shoot the ball."

That was on display in Sunday's exhibition vs. Bauru, a Brazilian professional team that visited Verizon Center. Harrellson made three consecutive three-point shots to finish with 11 points. In today's NBA, front-office officials unanimously will agree on this (and say it often): "You can never have enough shooters." 

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This is especially true if it's a big. That ability has prolonged the career of Drew Gooden, 34, who is in his third season in Washington after having been out of the NBA. He's a 6-10 three-point shooter who can play at the "stretch" power forward.

"I've always had the ability. I don't know what it is," Harrellson said about developing the range so early. "When I first started playing basketball I just had good hand-eye coordination. I guess it's from being a pitcher when I grew up. I just always had the touch. I expanded that after college. ... I got the stroke better."

Harrellson spent last year overseas, including in China. He played for Phoenix at Las Vegas summer league this year before joining the Wizards for camp. He had to get stitches over his eye after Day 2 because of a practice collision.

"It's very important (to be in the NBA). I think I belong here. I'm a solid player," Harrellson said. "Injuries have plagued me for the last few years. I'm more focused than I've ever been in my life. I got a family now. That definitely changes your mentality."

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.

Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.

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The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message. 

"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."

The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.

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Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.

Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.

Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one. 

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Wizards' 122-105 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night...

1. This was a tough one for the Wizards. For the third time this season, they got beaten by the Hornets and for the second straight time it was in a blowout.

They still had their moments, though, including this alley-oop from Tomas Satoransky (11 points) to Markieff Morris (13 points, eight assists, six rebounds). It was the second alley-oop connection for those two in as many games:

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2. This was a play that encapsulated the Wizards' night. Jodie Meeks drew a flagrant foul on Michael Carter-Williams, but took a hard shot to the head:

3. Kelly Oubre, Jr. had a solid game with 11 points, including this big dunk:

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4. Speaking of Oubre, he helped the Wizards close the first half with a late surge. The real highlight was Bradley Beal stealing the ball and hitting a corner three at the buzzer:

5. Beal ended up with 33 points, six assists and six rebounds. Here's an and-1 he got to go down in the second half:

All in all, it was an ugly performance for the Wizards. To cheer you up, we'll leave you with this young fan who had a great time at Capital One Arena despite the result:

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