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Wizards hope to buy D-League team to play at new practice facility


Wizards hope to buy D-League team to play at new practice facility

With the announcement of their new practice facility, expected to open in 2018 in Southeast D.C., the Washington Wizards have laid out several plans in hopes of continuing their ascent as a franchise. One of those ideas is the purchase and installment of an NBA D-League team to play their home games at the 5,000-seat arena in Ward 8.

Wizards majority owner Ted Leonsis made it clear on Wednesday that is one of his immediate goals set for the three-year process it will take the build the $55 million complex.

"We will now start serious discussions about can we get an expansion team, now knowing where we can put it. I think it can work great here. We will have a 5,000-seat arena and tickets can be priced correctly into the marketplace. It's close enough to Verizon, but can still be programmed and marketed separately. I think a D-League team would work very well here," he said.

The Wizards were associated with the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Mad Ants of the D-League during the 2014-15 season. They would sometimes send players - most notably Glen Rice - to the Mad Ants to get extra playing time, particularly while they rehabbed injuries.

However, that relationship ended when the Indiana Pacers bought the Mad Ants to become their D-League partner last week. The Pacers became the 10th NBA team to fully own and operate a D-League club.

Leonsis hopes to eventually have a D-League team that can develop young players just like the Hersey Bears of the American Hockey League, which serves as a pipeline to his NHL team, the Capitals.

"I think it strengthens our position with players and staff," he said. "I witnessed that first-hand with the Capitals. Once we built Kettler Capitals Iceplex and we changed our AHL affiliate in Hershey, that the bringing together of our AHL, practice facility and the Verizon Center, and looking at them all as a platform, it really elevated the team and the way we played."

The Wizards are among 11 NBA teams without a direct D-League affiliate. While they go through the process of buying their own franchise, players they choose to assign to the D-League will depend on the availability of roster spots on the second division teams.

"There's another system to the D-League. Obviously, it's not the optimum situation for us," Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said. "We're looking into having our own D-League team and if we do get one, it will be playing here."

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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. 



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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:


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:


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: