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NBA trade deadline strategy: Wizards staying pat not laying down

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NBA trade deadline strategy: Wizards staying pat not laying down

The Washington Wizards, broadly speaking, have three possible paths before Thursday's NBA trade deadline: Make a move, stand pat, punt away the season. It's time to examine each option. 

The two teams sandwiching the Wizards in the Eastern Conference standings made a headline worthy deal Tuesday. Forget waiting for the deadline or staying with the cards in hand, Orlando and Detroit shuffled the deck.

That doesn't mean Washington should.

The franchise's decision makers put together a roster last offseason they felt could compete with the best of the best in the East. Through 51 games, those pieces haven't been together. Even if with put aside swingman Alan Anderson's season-long absence following ankle surgery, coach Randy Wittman has been dealing with a short stack of options more often than essentially every coach in the league.

With a little luck, that might change immediately.

Washington often played with 8-10 players in December and January. Wittman had 13 available in the final game before the All-Star break as Gary Neal (knee) joined Anderson in street clothes. Neal's injury seemed like a day-to-day scenario. When we last checked on Anderson, the veteran was progressing to the point he could be available before the month ends if not over the next week. The Wizards (23-28) return from the All-Star break with three games in three days starting with the Utah Jazz Thursday at Verizon Center.

Simply having all the pieces in place for the remaining games might be the missing piece for a playoff push. The Wizards are 10th in the East, three games behind the Hornets for the eighth and final playoff spot. 

If Bradley Beal plays the final 31 games, that's one more than he's played to date. Since returning from his latest leg stress injury on Jan. 13, he's played in 13 of 15 games with an evolving minutes limit. His stats in that stretch: 25.7 minutes, 17.2 points, 50.9 field goal percentage, 41.0 percent clip from 3.

If Beal keeps up the pace and plays around 36 minutes per game going forward -- he was on the court for 37 in Washington's previous game at Milwaukee-- his scoring jumps to 24.1 with 3.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists. Those are some useful numbers.

Other than a brief reunion with Nene and Marcin Gortat in the starting lineup, the Wizards are committed to small ball, to pace and space. Even though the overall personnel don't quite fit this plan, particularly at power forward, this still works seeing as it maximizes All-Star John Wall's talent. The primary issue with that approach to date, defense. Washington ranks 26th in points allowed (105.4). The primary culprit, 3-point defense. Opponents shoot a league-best 38.7 percent from beyond the arc against the Wizards. 

This brings us back to Anderson and brings up the question, why did the Wizards sign the 6-foot-6 wing? For his two-way perimeter game. Perhaps his presence changes the defensive flow while still giving Wall a viable 3-point shooter.

Now, don't confuse the return of Anderson, 33, as a splashy game-changer. Even if available, it could take a minute for the elimination of rust. That's why we're keeping the entire roster angle front of mind.

Ideally the Wizards would have a third go-to talent capable of scoring or creating for others when Wall and Beal rest. Perhaps simply having enough bodies so the likes of Wall, Beal, Jared Dudley, Gortat, Nene and Garrett Temple are not tasked with heavy minutes helps all become more effective when on the court. Trade deadline deals the previous two seasons fixed clear roster gaps. This group is two-deep everywhere when healthy.

Other considerations:

The Wizards have lost more games due to injury -- approximately 221 -- than any team in the league.

* Going forward, they have the second easiest schedule.

* It's not like the teams in the 4-8 playoff spots are running away from the Wizards. Washington is four games back in the loss column of Atlanta, the fourth seed. Rumors have the Hawks possibly breaking up their core. Who knows what happens with Miami, the fifth seed, if Chris Bosh's medical scare sidelines the big man. Charlotte reportedly lost forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to a season-ending shoulder injury.

Lastly, let's talk cost and reality. Grabbing a stretch-four like New Orleans' Ryan Anderson would help, but the Pelicans might want a first round pick or rookie Kelly Oubre. That move could put Washington into the playoffs while hurting its future for a player on an expiring contract.

Perhaps the Wizards take on a multi-year contract like Detroit; Harris is in year one of a four-year, $64 million deal. If Kevin Durant dreams remain, adding payroll is tricky business.

Add it all up and staying pat has benefits, especially for those who believe the roster Washington put together last summer can contend when healthy. We might finally get the chance to see that scenario play out.

RELATED: Grading out: Where Kris Humphries stands at All-Star break

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

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USA TODAY Sports

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:

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. CHARLOTTE HORNETS

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.

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

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:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

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.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

 

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Wizards take out Cavs on road to continue impressive run after All-Star break

Wizards take out Cavs on road to continue impressive run after All-Star break

The Washington Wizards beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 110-103 on Thursday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Wizards keep it rolling: Even a week off for the All-Star break couldn't slow the Wizards' roll. 

Though they started a bit slow in the first quarter, the Wizards picked up right where they left off with an impressive win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team many feel improved significantly at the trade deadline.

The Cavs have some newfound confidence, but the result on Thursday was another notch on the Wizards' belt. They moved to 8-2 since John Wall got injured and to 34-24 on the season overall, 10 games above .500 for the first time in 2017-18.

Beating the Cavs was a great sign for the Wizards who are just beginning an extremely difficult part of their schedule. Of their next 16 games, 14 will be against teams currently slated to be in the playoffs. A win at Cleveland bodes well with matchups against the Warriors, Celtics and Raptors on the horizon.

Since Wall got injured, the Wizards have taken out the Cavs, Thunder and Raptors. They keep proving they can compete with anyone even without their All-Star point guard.

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

Satoransky continues to thrive: More and more teams are learning what Tomas Satoransky is capable of. The second-year pro had another gem of a game with 17 points (6-for-7 FG), eight assists, four rebounds, two steals and zero turnovers.

The Cavs added a lot of athleticism to their backcourt at the trade deadline, but it was nothing to Satoransky. He even made easy work of George Hill, an experienced and physical perimeter defender.

Satoransky also proved a much more even match for Jordan Clarkson, who was giving Tim Frazier fits before the Wizards went away from him in favor of Satoransky and Bradley Beal (18 points, nine assists) running point.

Satoransky and Beal helped lead another well-rounded effort for the Wizards offensively. They had 29 assists and five guys reached double figures. 

When Wall comes back, Satoransky will slide back to the bench as the primary backup point guard. He will still be part of the rotation, but games like this beg the question of whether his role should expand into something larger.

Given Wall plays so much, it will require Satoransky to start producing as a backup shooting guard or small forward. There are reasons to believe he's ready for those responsibilities. He can spread the floor with a consistent three-point shot and has made some nice plays off the ball in the fastbreak. He doesn't need to be the primary ball-handler to produce on offense, he just needs to gain some confidence in doing it.

Oubre was much better: The last few weeks leading up to the All-Star break were tough for Kelly Oubre, Jr. In his last 11 games entering Thursday night, Oubre was averaging just 9.4 points while shooting 31.2 percent. He was looking for a breakthrough and he got one against the Cavs.

After beginning the game 2-for-6 from the field, Oubre got hot in the second quarter and had 12 points by halftime. He went scoreless in the third quarter, but hits some big shots in the fourth to end up with 17 points. He also had five rebounds, two assists and a steal.

Oubre's second quarter surge helped turn the game around. The Wizards had trailed by as much as 11 points and were shooting just 37 percent at the end of the first quarter. Oubre hit a pair of threes in the second including one to give the Wizards a lead with just over two minutes to go in the half.

Oubre has been contributing in ways other than scoring lately, but the Wizards can certainly use more from him on offense. The Wizards' bench can be limited offensively and everything opens up when his three is falling consistently.

RELATED: GET TO KNOW NEW WIZARDS FREE AGENT SIGNING

New-look Cavs: The Wizards took some shine off what many have praised as a rejuvenated Cavaliers team following the trade deadline. Cleveland overhauled their roster and had won three games since. But the Wizards stopped that streak and did so by holding a lot of the Cavs' players in check.

LeBron James had a big night per usual with 32 points, nine assists, eight rebounds and two steals. But many others were stymied including Hill (six points, 2-for-10 FG), Rodney Hood (eight points), Clarkson (nine points), Larry Nance, Jr. (six points) and Jeff Green (five points), who happens to have hurt the Wizards on numerous occasions recently.

How the Wizards would match up with the revamped Cavs was particularly interesting because the old Cleveland crew beat the Wizards twice earlier this season. Of all the teams in the East, the Wizards seemed to match up worse with the Cavs than anyone. It was only one game, but the Wizards looked much better against this version of the Cavs than they did against the previous group.

Up next: The Wizards return home to play the second game of a back-to-back. They host the Charlotte Hornets with a 7 p.m. tipoff on NBC Sports Washington.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS