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Subtle thumbs up for Wizards offseason around the NBA


Subtle thumbs up for Wizards offseason around the NBA

The Wizards didn't sign a high-end free agent like LaMarcus Aldridge.

They didn't hand out a large contract to a mid-tier player like the Pelicans keeping center Omer Asik for a Marcin Gortat-like five-year, $60 million deal.

They didn't give away a major contributor just for the sake of moving on like the Pacers dealing Roy Hibbert to the Lakers for a future second-round pick.

In other words, the Wizards haven't really been part of the flashy headlines since free agency opened on July 1. They haven't been one of these team that ends up in many  "Winners and Losers" column. That doesn't mean some haven't had things to say about what's been going on in Chinatown.

Granted, they did lose Paul Pierce, who chose a return home to his native Los Angeles - and a possible title run with the Clippers - over a return to Washington. Yet the Wizards reacted quickly to Pierce's departure without overreacting with the additions of Jared Dudley, Gary Neal and Alan Anderson. Keeping Drew Gooden ensures the bulk of last season' big man rotation remains, though the possible if not apparent loss of Kevin Seraphin weakens the backup center slot. None of these moves involved guaranteed money for next summer, meaning the hunt for Kevin Durant remains. 

As for what others thought about the Wizards' moves in free agency, here's a look from around the league, though with an admitted small sample size. Just not that many league-wide right about those smaller and understated transactions.

Washington: Paul Pierce called game so many times during the postseason that it was easy to overlook a bigger development: The Wizards’ young core was developing and getting better. To be sure, last season was too often a struggle but through the cracks real strengths began to show. John Wall is an elite point guard and he and Bradley Beal are a dynamic backcourt. Otto Porter is ready to assume a larger role and the big man combination should be good enough to compete against the other frontcourts in the East. The Wizards smartly replaced Pierce with three veterans in Jared Dudley, Alan Anderson and Gary Neal. Taken individually none of them can match Truth’s track record, but they signal a necessary change in direction toward a smaller, more versatile team. The Wizards just might be the second best team in the East. Now they need to prove it.



Washington Wizards: There’s nothing fancy here, but they got Jared Dudley for nothing and Gary Neal for the biannual exception — just over $2 million. Dudley did great work in Milwaukee as a small-ball power forward, but he’s not a full Paul Pierce replacement. He doesn’t have a legacy of big-balls shot-making, and he can’t create shots off the dribble or from the post when a possession is dying.



But these are smart signings for a team making them on the regular these days. They are one of the few teams left who might realistically spend the full midlevel, and with West off to the Spurs, they have to move on to their second choice.


The Wizards didn't ultimately use the full midlevel, but did add Anderson, one of the better free agents remaining at the time of the deal.


  • Bobby Marks, a longtime member of NBA front offices and recent Twitter star for his insight into the free agency process appears to like the short and long-term aspects of the Wizards' maneuvers.



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Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

This weekend was already going to be special for Washington Wizards fans. Now they will get souvenirs to remember it.

As part of their celebration of Phil Chenier's legendary career and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship, the Wizards are handing out emoji signs on Friday night and commemorative t-shirts on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a giveaway.


The emoji sign has Chenier's face on it and will be handed out for the March 23 game against the Nuggets. Chenier will have his jersey retired at halftime during the game. 

The emoji sign is presented by NBC Sports Washington. You're welcome, Authentic Fans.


The shirts will be given out on Sunday when the Wizards host the New York Knicks. 

Here's the front...

And the back...

Let's take a closer look at that back...

As a reporter who has received many giveaways over the years at pro sports stadiums, these are uniquely awesome. Should be a great weekend for Wizards fans. See you at the arena.


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Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

As if they needed a reminder, the Wizards saw firsthand on Wednesday night just how much can change in a short period of time in the Eastern Conference playoff race where just two games separate the No. 3 and No. 6 teams.

That No. 6 team is now your Washington Wizards, who began the day in fourth place but lost their first game in four days on the same night both the Cavs and Sixers won theirs. 

The Wizards lost to the Spurs on Wednesday and managed only 90 points, their fewest since Jan. 22. It was a lackluster performance in a game the Wizards needed to treat with urgency. 

The Spurs sure did.

"We've gotta have a better mentality coming into games," guard Bradley Beal said. "The Spurs were fighting for playoff seeding just like we were."

The Wizards have now lost six of their last 10, yet all those games have come against teams currently holding playoff spots. Considering John Wall remains out with a left knee injury, it's hard to fault them too much when they are staying afloat just fine in the big picture.


The problem is that the closer they get to the end of the season, the more these losses are magnified. They amount to missed opportunities, some bigger than others.

That was not lost on Beal, who considered the alternative. If the Wizards had beaten the Spurs, they would be sitting in fourth, two spots higher, and just a game-and-a-half out of third.

"Every time we have a chance to move up, we take two steps back," Beal lamented.

The Wizards are in a high stakes part of the standings where plenty is in the balance. They are fighting for home-court advantage, something they would get in the third or fourth spots. And who they match up with will be paramount.


By falling to sixth, the Wizards are currently in line to play the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though the Pacers and Sixers are also good teams, they don't have LeBron James. Avoiding him and the Cavs would be ideal for the Wizards.

Beal has even bigger worries than that. He noted after the loss in San Antonio that they could fall even further if they aren't careful. They are now just a game-and-a-half up on the seventh-place Heat. 

"We've gotta realize what's at stake, man. The way we're going, we could keep dropping and mess around and be eighth. We've gotta do whatever it takes to win," he said.

The Wizards should be fine if the previous two months are any indication. But Wednesday night was another example of how precarious things are for them this season in the tightly-packed Eastern Conference.


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