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Wizards divisional stock rising, but what about the East?


Wizards divisional stock rising, but what about the East?

Dwight Howard trade talk, done. Finally, hallelujah. By moving on from the physically gifted, but arrogantly wishy-washy center, Orlando is officially in full blow rebuild mode. As Frank Hanrahan discussed, the Wizards certainly will not beshedding a tear.Let's also not forgetAtlanta unburdened themselves of Joe Johnson's hefty contract - and in turn took likely took a step back. Factor in the improved talent pool locally and the Wizards opportunity for more than a fourth place finish in the Southeast division looks better than anytime since John Wall was a high school senior.Of course, division rank means nothing in the conference playoff chase unless you're the team in first - and Miami has that slot on lock down for years to come. The Wizards are - on paper - better than they were a year ago, no doubt. Can't imagine anyone arguing otherwise.Yet even with the upgradesplusthe changes throughout the conference, finishing second in the division might be more likely than reaching the postseason.The Wizards are not going to catch the much deeper and more athletic Celtics, let alone the NBA champs. Not only did the Nets move from New Jersey to Brooklyn, they moved from zero to near-hero in the East.Assuming Deron Williams and Joe Johnson help land one of the top four slots in the East, four other squadsvie for the final home court advantage slot.Even without Derrick Rose for much of the season, the lengthy and defensive-oriented Bulls remain a playoff team, though hardly a contender. It's possible their NBA title window has already slammed shut, but Luol Deng and company could stay ahead of Melo, Amare and Tyson-led Knicks this year. Not sure the Pacers did anything this offseason that has the top teams quaking (I'm being kind with that assessment). Maybe Paul George takes the next step, maybe D.J. Augustin finds a new level now that he's out of Charlotte, maybe.Roy Hibbert and crew could land at the bottom of this tier if Andrew Bynum is on his best behavior with the 76ers. Philly now has the bestbig man in the conference, two potential stars inEvan Turner and Jrue Holiday plus a coach in Doug Collins who coaxesout maximum effort from his players. If Bynum landed somewhere in the West, catching the 76ers might have been possible for the Wizards. Instead, they are a sneaky top four pick.That's seven teams, leavingWashington, Atlanta, Milwaukee and maybe Toronto battling for one spot (maybe the Larry Bird-less Pacers drop down, opening an extra opportunity).The Hawks still have Al Horford, Josh Smith, the point guard tandem of Jeff Teague and Devin Harris, and the understanding of what it takes to reach the playoffs. The Bucks kept Ersan Ilaysova (a good thing), added Samuel Dalembert (a size thing)and have the backcourt of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis (a crazy scoring thing).John Wall, Nene and company can contend with those latter rosters - and maybe more if the frontcourt rotation gels, if Bradley Beal contributes beyond basic rookie expectations and good health is the status quo.At a minimum, there should be more success against those they face most often (let's not forget the Bobcats).Beyond that, we'll see.

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Phil Chenier tells stories ahead of his jersey retirement

Associated Press

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Phil Chenier tells stories ahead of his jersey retirement

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, host Chase Hughes was joined by Bullets/Wizards legend Phil Chenier ahead of his jersey retirement set for this upcoming weekend on March 23.

Chenier looked back on his playing and broadcasting career and told great stories. He also shared some memories of the 1978 championship as the franchise gets ready to honor its 40th anniversary.

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!

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Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue stepping away from team to deal with health issues

USA Today Sports Images

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue stepping away from team to deal with health issues

An undiagnosed illness has convinced Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue to step away from the team indefinitely, the team announced on Monday. Assistant coach Larry Drew will take over in the interim.

Lue, 40, is hoping to address his health issues in time to return before the year is out. According to a statement on the team's website, he has been under the weather for quite some time.


Here is what Lue said on the matter in a press release:

I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is.

While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team. I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season. My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the Championship we are all working towards.

That is scary stuff and certainly much bigger than basketball. But the surprising news happens to come at a crucial time in the Cavs' season. They are currently third in the Eastern Conference with only 13 games remaining before the playoffs.


The Cavs are just a half-game ahead of both the Wizards and Pacers in the standings. They will also have to reincorporate All-Star Kevin Love, likely sometime this week. 

That is a lot for Drew to deal with while Lue recovers and it adds another wrinkle to a Cavs' season that has been characterized by change.


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