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Dave Johnson: Blatche Plays But Wizards Lose

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Dave Johnson: Blatche Plays But Wizards Lose

Wednesday, March 24, 2010 9:43pm

Wizards vs. Pacers Game Highlights & Postgame

By Dave Johnson
CSNWashington.com Indianapolis---It was all quiet on the Washington Wizards front. Too quiet. There was no controversy, but not much basketball, either, as the Wizards stumbled to their franchise record-tying 13th consecutive defeat in a 99-82 loss to the Indiana Pacers. Andray Blatche was still in the Wizards starting lineup and led the team with 21 points. In Tuesdays loss to the Bobcats, Blatche was benched in the first quarter by Wizards head coach Flip Saunders because of a disagreement. Saunders had hinted Blatche might not play because of the dispute.

While Blatche had his usual post All-Star break points, the Wizards offense struggled to get anything going. The Wizards shot only 36 percent from the field, including several missed layups, and as a team only had 11 assists. Blatche may be a future All-Star but the Pacers have a current All-Star in Danny Granger and he made the difference. Granger had a game-high 31 points including 11 points in the fourth quarter when the Wizards were desperately trying to make a run. Down by 16 points at 74-58 to startthe fourth quarter, the Wizards came to life and used their defense to try and jump-start their lifeless offense. The Wizards sudden aggressiveness allowed them to pull within 10 points at 81-71 on a Blatche three-pointer with 6:11 to go. Granger then wasted no time in putting the Pacers back in control with a slam dunk and a three-pointer, sandwiched around a Wizards miss, to extend their lead back to 15 points at 86-71. It was Granger who also gave the Pacers their biggest lead of the night. In the third quarter Granger blocked an Earl Boykins drive to the basket and then hit a shot beyond the arc at the other end of the court to put the Pacers up 70-50 Offensively we are struggling to get into sets, Saunders said. The only bright spot we had tonight was James (Singleton). He was unbelievable. We played him a lot of minutes and he had good game last night and played well so we will have to look to make some lineup changes in our next game. It is possible Singleton could start in place of JaVale McGee on Friday in Charlotte. Singletons approach has been direct and consistent. Against the Pacers, in a game in need of a spark, Singleton stormed off the bench and scored 19 points and grabbed a career-high 21 rebounds. We have been in a situation where we are trying to evaluate players, Saunders noted. At some point you have to still evaluate but you also have to reward the guys that are producing in a limited time and give them extended minutes. In short if Singleton cracks the starting five, it will be a credit to him and not a knock on JaVale McGee. Since the All-Star break McGee has played his best basketball, and played well Tuesday against the Bobcats, but with more minutes than he has ever played in his career he has been inconsistent.. The Pacers have now won five of six games and are more than just Granger. Six players scored in double figures against the Wizards including Josh McRoberts who had 14 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. McRoberts started in place of Roy Hibbert who suffered a jaw injury against the Pistons. The Wizards at 21-49 have a similar record to the Pacers 26-46 mark, but are at the other end of the spectrum right now. The Wizards 13 game losing streak equals the franchise record set back in 1995. We have been competitive in some games, Saunders said. We were not as competitive tonight. We have not had overall consistent play. We are trying to rely on just a few guys to carry us. We are young and not as talented as the teams we are playing against. Blatche has been one of the guys carrying the Wizards that Saunders referred to. Before the Pacers game Saunders seemed ready to move forward after benching Blatche for most of the overtime loss to the Bobcats. Still Saunders does not regret his decision not to play Blatche after the two had an argument on the bench. Saunders was angered when Blatche did not accept coaching during a timeout.When you decide to blow up a team, it is about setting groundwork for where you want to be, Saunders explained. Everyone has to know there are certain things you can do and certain things you cant do. As coaches and everyone you have core values of what you believe in and you have to stick to them.

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These hidden factors could make Brandon Scherff less interested in an extension with the Redskins

These hidden factors could make Brandon Scherff less interested in an extension with the Redskins

In Brandon Scherff, the Redskins have a 27-year-old guard who has delivered on his first-round status, a lineman who has become one of the best in the league at his position and should have many more years of production and defender-mauling left.

Therefore, it's in the Redskins' best interest to extend Scherff this offseason, and the veteran confirmed on Monday there have been talks about getting that done

But during a discussion on the Redskins Talk podcast, J.I. Halsell, a salary cap expert and former agent, laid out something that could force those negotiations to stall.

"There are some things you have to take into consideration because 2020 is the final year of the collective bargaining agreement, so there are some things you have to work around when structuring the deal," Halsell said.

Not only is that deadline approaching, but another one is, too. In 2021 and 2022, the NFL's TV deals with Monday Night Football, FOX, CBS and NBC expire as well.

So, there's a very real possibility the league's salary cap could look much, much different in a few seasons. And that, according to Halsell, may make Scherff much less willing to accept an extension now.

"If you're Brandon Scherff, in 2021, with a new collective bargaining agreement, the salary cap might be $250 million or something crazy like that, with all the new revenue coming into the league," he explained. "And so why would I take a deal today and preclude myself of taking advantage of a very lucrative and larger revenue pie?"

Essentially, it comes down to whether Scherff wants to take a present risk that could pay off down the line (kind of like how Kirk Cousins did a few years back with the Burgundy and Gold). He could probably lock something in over the next few months — Halsell's projection was an agreement for five years, including $45 million guaranteed and a $14.5 million average per year — or step away from talks now and try to cash in later.

Haslell told Redskins Talk he'd probably advise the lineman to take the second route.

"You would say, 'Look, you're a former first-round pick. You've made a decent amount of money in your career thus far,'" he said. "You have the financial wherewithal to not take the bird in hand today that may not be as lucrative as what is out there in 2021. So, bet on yourself and play out the last year of your rookie deal, force them to tag you in 2020 and then see what this new NFL salary cap world looks like in 2021."

Now, who knows truly how much these factors will play into Scherff's back-and-forth with the 'Skins. Nevertheless, you can see why the Pro Bowler's next contract may not be as much of a no-brainer as previously thought.

"If the kid is willing to bet on himself," Haslell said, "then it could be very lucrative on the back end."

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Nickeil Walker-Alexander

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Nickeil Walker-Alexander

The Washington Wizards will have the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2019 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Nickeil Walker-Alexander

School: Virginia Tech
Position: Guard
Age: 20 (turns 21 in September)
Height: 6-6
Weight: 204
Wingspan: 6-10
Max vertical: N/A

2018/19 stats: 16.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.9 spg, 0.5 bpg, 47.4 FG% (5.6/11.8), 37.4 3PT% (1.7/4.6), 77.8 FT%

Player comparison: Shai-Gilgeous Alexander, Tomas Satoransky

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 19th, NBADraft.net 14th, Bleacher Report 18th, Sports Illustrated 20th, Ringer 16th

5 things to know:

*Walker-Alexander is a big guard known for his offensive skillset. He can handle the ball, pass and score in a variety of ways. He can play both point guard and shooting guard and affect games with his passing at either spot. 

*He was an excellent three-point shooter in college. As a freshman, he shot 39.2 percent from long range on 4.5 attempts per game. His percentage dipped as a sophomore to 37.4 percent, but that was still impressive given he attempted 4.6 shots per game. 

*Walker-Alexander has a plus wingspan, which he uses to his advantage on defense. He averaged 1.9 steals per game this past season in Blacksburg and his highlight reels are flooded with open court dunks off turnovers. He appears to have strong instincts as a perimeter defender, but could struggle initially at the NBA level against quicker and stronger guards.

*Though he has great size and length for a guard, Walker-Alexander is not considered a premier athlete for the position. He does not have elite quickness or the ability to play consistently above the rim. Because of that, some wonder how high his ceiling will be in the NBA. He may, however, have a high floor given his well-rounded game and basketball IQ.

*Walker-Alexander is from Canada. He has played for the national team as a junior and is part of a new wave of players from the country in the NBA. Walker-Alexander was a high school teammate of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who just enjoyed a strong rookie season with the L.A. Clippers.

Fit with Wizards: The Wizards need help at just about every position, so even a guard can't be ruled out. Walker-Alexander would give them more backcourt depth and that is needed long-term, even after John Wall returns from injury.

If Walker-Alexander can develop into an above average perimeter defender, he could be very useful for the Wizards. They need to improve at stopping dribble penetration and three-point shooters. They could use more players with Walker-Alexander's length and ability to force turnovers. Also, he would help spread the floor with his shooting.

All that said, the Wizards could probably find a player with more upside than Walker-Alexander with the ninth overall pick. He would be more in line with their decision to take Troy Brown Jr. last June.

Like Brown, he is smart and a safe bet to carve out a long NBA career. But could Walker-Alexander become an elite player at his position? He seems like a better option if they trade down into the teens and acquire more picks.

Best highlight video:

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