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Wizards training camp: Dates, times, biggest questions

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Wizards training camp: Dates, times, biggest questions

The Washington Wizards' 2017-18 training camp begins on Tuesday, Sept. 26 in Richmond, Va. Here is everything you need to know...


When: Sept. 26-30

Where: VCU's Siegel Center in Richmond, Va.

Time: The Wizards will end practice around 1 p.m. each day, so expect updates from the media around then.

Open practice: The Wizards will host an open practice on Friday, Sept. 29 for fans who RSVP on their website. It starts at 6 p.m. and goes to 7:30 p.m.

Biggest questions:

1. How will they fill the void left by Morris?

With Markieff Morris set to miss six to eight weeks, that means the Wizards will be without their starting power forward for as much as a month of the regular season. Head coach Scott Brooks will use this training camp and the preseason to figure out how to replace him. That could mean going small-ball more often with Otto Porter, Jr. and Kelly Oubre, Jr. on the court at the same time. It could mean more of Jason Smith and/or Mike Scott. Brooks will ultimately find some combination of those guys that he's comfortable with before Morris returns, but it will probably take some tinkering to get there.

2. What will they do with Oubre and McCullough's contract options?

Speaking of Oubre, the Wizards have an upcoming decision to make on he and Chris McCullough, a third year forward they acquired at the trade deadline this past February in a deal with the Nets. Both have contract options for the 2018-19 season with a deadline of Oct. 31 for the Wizards to make the call. Oubre is an easy decision. McCullough is not quite as easy, but remains an intriguing prospect.


3. New year, new Mahinmi?

Center Ian Mahinmi was the Wizards' biggest free agent acquisition a year ago. He signed a four-year deal worth $64 million, a massive investment for a team that already had a solid starting frontcourt. Mahinmi was supposed to be their best rim protector and the anchor of their second unit, but various injuries forced him to miss 51 games. Now he is back and noticably slimmer. Can he stay on the court this season? Can he co-exist with Marcin Gortat, who plays a similar style? We shall see.

4. Will Robinson or Young make some noise?

The Wizards have two players signed to two-way contracts, guys that weren't selected in the 2017 NBA Draft but have joined the Wizards as prospects. Both played in the Summer League with mixed results, but this preseason will give them a chance against better competition. Mike Young is a smart, fundamentally sound forward while Devin Robinson is a straight athletic freak. He's raw, but a Wizards executive recently compared him to a lottery ticket. They believe he's worth taking a chance on.



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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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