Charlie DiSturco

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John Wall thinks the Wizards deserve to be among Eastern Conference's elite

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USA Today Sports

John Wall thinks the Wizards deserve to be among Eastern Conference's elite

The Eastern Conference race has been blown wide open since LeBron James' departure for the Lakers. The Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors are often considered the favorites to win the conference.

But if you ask John Wall, the Washington Wizards also deserve to be in that grouping.

"I feel like we're all equal," Wall told Yahoo. "... None of them won a championship. This is no knock on no other team. Don't get me wrong ... Y'all might've been to the Eastern Conference finals, where we haven't been to, but none of y'all were going to the Finals.

"It was one guy going to the Finals. Ain't nobody separated from nothing."

The Wizards were marred with chemistry issues and the injury of its star player, Wall, last season. They did make the playoffs as an eight seed before falling to the Raptors in the first round. 

The Raptors, Celtics and 76ers were the first three seeds, respectively, in 2017. The latter of the three lost to Boston in the conference semis while the Raptors were swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers, who then beat the Celtics in seven to advance to the NBA Finals. 

It was a path that always seemed to repeat — no team could dethrone LeBron James.

That's Wall's point. With James gone, every team's chances have increased exponentially.

The Wizards seemed to address its chemistry issues by shipping Marcin Gortat, who often seemed to be in the middle of team issues, to the Los Angeles Clippers for Austin Rivers. 

General manager Ernie Grunfeld then added veterans Jeff Green and Dwight Howard. Howard's had the reputation of being a disruptive force before, but Wall persuaded him to come to D.C., and the latter has said he wants to stay with the Wizards until his eventual retirement. 

Though there have been other additions and departures, the Wizards return most of its main rotational players including Bradley Beal, Kelly Oubre Jr., Markieff Morris and Otto Porter Jr., among others. 

"I think this is deepest team we’ve had and I feel very comfortable with this team," Wall told Yahoo. "... I feel like it's all cluttered.

"I put us right there."

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Nationals trade reliever Brandon Kintzler to Cubs

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USA Today Sports

Nationals trade reliever Brandon Kintzler to Cubs

It's not Bryce Harper, but the Washington Nationals made their first trade ahead of Tuesday's deadline. They will reportedly send reliever Brandon Kintzler to the Chicago Cubs for Jhon Romero, according to Joel Sherman

The Cubs have been adding to their bullpen this trade deadline, acquiring RHP Jesse Chavez from the Texas Rangers and now Kintzler. The team's closer, Brandon Morrow, has been sidelined with a bicep injury since mid-July. 

Kintzler was acquired at the 2017 trade deadline by the Nationals and has been reliable ever since, posting a 3.54 ERA over 72 appearances. 

He is controllable through the 2019 season and was an All-Star last season for the Twins. 

Romero is a 23-year-old prospect for the Cubs' A+ affiliate, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. In 32 appearances, the righty has a 3.27 ERA and 11.7 K/9 rate. 

This is likely the only move for the Nationals ahead of the deadline, as GM Mike Rizzo has said the team will keep Bryce Harper and look to compete. 

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NASCAR driver honors the Capitals' Stanley Cup win with a customized helmet

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Ryan Ellis/Twitter

NASCAR driver honors the Capitals' Stanley Cup win with a customized helmet

The Washington Capitals' Stanley Cup fever has yet to end.

The franchise's first championship has led to fans commemorating the historic run with tattoos, clothing and more. And even athletes are joining the fun.

NASCAR driver Ryan Ellis took the celebration to another level, posting new pictures on his Twitter showing off his "favorite helmet ever." 

What does it look like? Here's a bunch of angles.

Ellis intends to wear the helmet during a race in Wisconsin next month.

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