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Open court: Do any Celtics free agents fit Wizards?

Open court: Do any Celtics free agents fit Wizards?

The Boston Celtics, the Wizards' most difficult opponent, are out of the playoffs and their season is over after losing 4-2 to the No. 4 seed Atlanta Hawks. They'll have draft picks and plenty of money under the salary cap to make a run at a max player.

It's going to be difficult for anyone to want to leave coach Brad Stevens who has a knack for making average players look better than they've ever looked in the NBA. But the cap is growing from $70 million to about $93 million so that's a lot of enticement.

The Wizards' goals are to get younger, more explosive and identify a few two-way players in the process to improve their 21st scoring defense. Adding players indiscriminately isn't an option because of the salary cap. The big fish (meaning, big-name free agents) will get signed first. Assuming the Wizards land one, even if it's not named Kevin Durant, they'll construct the roster with the remaining money with as many as eight other spots open. More than likely they'll retain 2-4 of their own free agents which will cut that number of open slots from 5-7.

They'll need a solid backup for Marcin Gortat at center, a true scorer behind Bradley Beal and a backup point guard for John Wall.

These are Boston's free agents, in order of best fit:

Evan Turner: The second overall pick in the 2010 draft, after Wall, Turner has become a valuable commodity because of his ability to score and playmake. He can start (think of Beal's health issues) and is accustomed to coming off the bench and is an ideal sixth man. He averaged 10.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists. Turner isn't a three-point shooter (24%) but overall shoots (45.6%). He's solid inside the arc. Turner is an unrestricted free agent and will be in demand by a lot of teams desperate for his skill set that'll drive up his pricetag. He's going to cost well above the $3.3 million he was paid this season.

Jonas Jerebko: The Celtics can decline his option by July 3 and make him an unrestricted free agent. By chance he hits the market, the career backup 6-10 forward can be a valuable stretch option off the bench for Markieff Morris. Jerebko's numbers this season were modest, 4.4 points and 3.7 rebounds in 15 minutes per game, but he shot 40% from three-point range. He's got experience but is relatively young at 29. Big men who can open the floor have value and the good thing should Jerebko come avaliable is he'd be affordable. Made $5 million this season.

Tyler Zeller: The 7-foot backup center is restricted, so the Celtics can match an offer to keep him. Zeller averaged 6.1 points and 3.0 rebounds in 60 appearances. No bad for a guy who played 11.8 minutes a game (Zeller averaged 10.2 and 5.7 on a playoff team last season when he started 59 games). Could he start for Gortat in a pinch? Yes. Zeller is 26 and has four years of experience. And he's coming off a deal that paid him $1.9 million so he's definitely affordable. 

Amir Johnson: This one is tricky because Johnson was supposed to be Boston's big free-agent get when they lured him from the Toronto Raptors on a two-year deal at $12 million per. Johnson averaged just 7.3 points and 6.4 rebounds in 76 starts. That's hardly an even swap but the Celtics could refuse to pick up his option for next season and allow him to become a free agent. In his last three NBA seasons, Johnson has been a starter but would be a backup for Morris but still would demand a salary that's probably too high for a backup. Johnson has 10 years experience but is just 28. He has developed three-point range, though he went from 41.3% last year with Toronto to 23.3% in Boston.

Jared Sullinger: The 6-9 center/forward is difficult to figure. His conditioning leaves much to be desired but he has a skill set that's unique for such a wide body. He averaged 10.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists as Sullinger missed just one game and started a career-high 73. Like Zeller, he's coming off his rookie scale deal and is restricted. Sullinger can hit the occassional three-pointer though he's never been above 30%. If he develops more range, his future is that of a stretch four. Sullinger is not a shot-blocker or a great inside player because he doesn't have the athleticism needed. If he ever commits to an offseason program and gets into serious shape, his ceiling will rise significantly as will his salary from the $1.6 million he made this season. Because of the ifs, he's the highest risk most on this list.

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

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

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick and the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday 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: 8 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 7 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Another test

The Wizards continue their difficult stretch coming out of the All-Star break against a very dangerous Sixers team. Philly has proven to be very streaky this season, but right now they are rolling. They come to Washington having won their last seven games dating back to Feb. 6 when they beat the Wizards at the Wells Fargo Center. The Wizards are also playing well, having won eight of their last 11, despite their loss to the Hornets on Friday.

The Sixers are currently seventh in the East and appear on track to make the playoffs. If they keep rising the standings, they could meet the Wizards, who are currently fourth, in the first round. 


Season series

Speaking of the playoffs, this game could end up looming large for postseason seeding. The Sixers have won two of the three matchups between these teams this year. If they win on Sunday, they will take the season series and own the tiebreaker over Washington.

If the two teams tie head-to-head and end up with the same record at the end of the season, it will then come down to conference record. The Sixers currently have a better record against East teams than the Wizards. But if they can beat Philly this time, the Wizards will have a chance to secure the conference tiebreaker down the stretch of this season.


Sixers are tough to guard

The Wizards have found out the hard way this season just how difficult it can be to match up with the Sixers, who are led by two emerging stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Embiid is 7-foot-1 with rare abilities to stretch the floor and beat opponents off the dribble. Simmons is 6-foot-10, yet can lead the fastbreak with rare speed and vision to find his teammates with crisp passes.

The mobility for their size is almost unmatched and it has not been easy for the Wizards to answer. In their last meeting earlier this month, Simmons had 15 points, eight assists, six rebounds and three steals. Embiid had 27 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. The Wizards have to try to limit those guys while also dealing with other challenges like Robert Covington, Dario Saric and J.J. Reddick.


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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.


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.


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.