Nick Ashooh

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Wizards expected to start 2018-19 season with games vs. Raptors and Heat

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards expected to start 2018-19 season with games vs. Raptors and Heat

The Wizards' 2018-19 regular-season schedule is starting to take shape.

On Wednesday, the NBA unveiled the slate of season-opening games, and the Wizards are set to take on the new-look Raptors in the first nationally televised game of the year. Recently-acquired Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors will head to Capital One Arena on Oct. 20 in a game aired on NBA TV.

But that won't be the Wizards' home-opener or season-opener.

The season opener is reportedly set for Oct. 18 against the Miami Heat, according to The Washington Post,

The Wizards would be opening at home for just the second time in eight seasons.

It looks like the Wizards will play half as many national TV games as they did last year, with nine said to be on the schedule. 

Their Oct. 20 matchup with the Raptors, the team that bounced them from the 2018 NBA Playoffs, will be on NBA TV.

Last year the Wizards had 18 nationally televised games, including a Christmas Day matchup with the Celtics on ABC, but the Wizards lost John Wall for 41 games, stumbled to a 43-39 finish, and a first-round exit to the Raptors. 

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So yeah, it looks like the Nationals aren't messing around anymore

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So yeah, it looks like the Nationals aren't messing around anymore

Well, it looks like the Nationals aren't playing around anymore.

In a season where they've struggled to stay near .500, had Trea Turner fail to run out a bunt against the Brewers, had Bryce Harper not running out a ground ball against the Mets, reports of the clubhouse being "a mess", and Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg getting into a shouting match in the dugout, it looks like the Nats have finally had enough of the trend this season.

After trading Brandon Kintzler to the Cubs, a player quietly seen as a clubhouse disruptor, the Nationals have now designated reliever Shawn Kelley for assignment, one day after he threw a tantrum on the mound after giving up a home run in the Nats' 25-4 beat down of the Mets Tuesday night.

"You should never throw your glove. We should act like adults," he said afterward. 

The Nationals selected the contract of righty Jimmy Cordero, who comes up to the majors for the first time. He has a 1.67 ERA in 38 appearances for Triple-A Syracuse in 2018.

It's pretty obvious now the organization is sending a message. What's happened up to this point is unacceptable, and you'll be held accountable for it.

Although, it's a little convenient to do it now.

It's a whole lot easier to make examples of Kintzler and Kelley, as opposed to Harper, Turner, Scherzer, or Strasburg, but it's better than letting the water continue to boil over.

It's no secret the Nationals have been the biggest disappointment so far in baseball. When you have World Series expectations, but can't seem to keep your head above .500, you're bound to have tension around the organization. Fresh off hosting the All-Star Game and seeing the franchise superstar win the Home Derby, the Nationals had tremendous momentum heading into the second half. 

Then Strasburg and Scherzer got into. Then Turner didn't run out the bunt. The clubhouse rumors soon followed.

There were reports that said Kintzler was identified by the Nationals as the anonymous source to those reports that painted the Nats' clubhouse negatively. 

As Chelsea Janes wrote in the Washington Post, "Some within the organization speculate the deal was as much about Kintzler’s willingness to speak his mind in the clubhouse as his performance. Kintzler was open about the effects his usage and workload had on his performance, though he was pitching to a 3.45 ERA in 45 appearances this season. He was a major presence in the clubhouse, leaned on by veteran starters and less-experienced relievers alike for advice on mechanics and approach."

If you don't like the power a player has within a locker room or clubhouse or the message he's spreading, the obvious decision is to send him away.

This morning on The Junkies, Rizzo was asked about why he traded Kintzler: "Would it be fair to say the phrase 'loose lips sink ships' would be a fair characterization as to why Kintzler was moved?"

"No, I don't think that's a fair characterization," Rizzo responded. "There was a lot of reasoning for trading Kintzler. One was that our bullpen depth has really grown since we acquired him and signed him as a free agent. We've got a big-three back end of the bullpen with Doolittle, Madson and Herrera. We've got great bridge guys, such as Justin Miller stepping up the way he has and Matt Grace pitching the way he has."

"We've got Wander Suero, who we believe has earned a chance to get to the big leagues, and has pitched wonderfully when he's up in the big leagues and great when he's down in the minor leagues, so he's earned a spot. We've got Koda Glover, a guy that we really liked and is going to be a good big-league pitcher for us back from rehab, so he's an option for us. We've got a kid named (Jimmy) Cordero down there that throws 100 miles an hour, that's really taken the next step up, so we may see him soon. So we had great depth."

If you notice, Rizzo never mentioned Kelley in that long answer. Shortly after his appearance on 106.7 The Fan, the Kelley news broke. 

Rizzo did go on to say that they "want players who care about the name on the front of the jersey more than the name on the back of the jersey. That's the demand that I make of them and if we don't get that then we have an issue."

It all makes sense looking back on it now. 

Will it work? The Nationals have 56 more regular season games to find out. 

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John Wall is everyone finding out DeMarcus Cousins signed with the Warriors

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John Wall is everyone finding out DeMarcus Cousins signed with the Warriors

When DeMarcus Cousins signed with the Warriors, it broke NBA Twitter. 

Now, a video surfaced of John Wall finding out his former Kentucky teammate went to Golden State, and it is all of us summed up in one reaction:

Even though Cousins will miss the start of the season recovering from that ruptured Achilles, this will eventually give the Warriors five All-Stars in their starting lineup.

So yeah, we all felt the same way John.