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Hawks revamp their roster with two big trades

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Hawks revamp their roster with two big trades

From Comcast SportsNet
The Hawks have agreed to deal All-Star guard Joe Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets for five players and a draft pick, and Atlanta will send forward Marvin Williams to the Utah Jazz for guard Devin Harris. A person familiar with the Hawks-Nets deal told The Associated Press on Monday night that Atlanta will receive guards Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar and DeShawn Stevenson and forwards Jordan Williams and Johan Petro, along with a draft pick Brooklyn received from Houston in a prior deal. The selection only belongs to the Nets if it is not a lottery pick. The person confirmed the trade on condition of anonymity because it cannot become official until Stevenson signs as a free agent with Brooklyn. Free agents cannot be signed until July 11. Johnson has four years and 90 million left on his contract and new general manager Danny Ferry decided it was time to shed payroll and rebuild. The 31-year-old Johnson averaged 18.8 points per game last season, his 11th in the NBA and seventh with Atlanta. The Nets are hoping to team Johnson with free agent point guard Deron Williams, whom they are working to re-sign, in the franchise's first season in New York City after decades in New Jersey. Utah CEO Greg Miller acknowledged the deal for former first-round pick Marvin Williams while picking up guard Mo Williams at Salt Lake City International Airport in preparation for Tuesday's introductory news conference. The Jazz acquired Mo Williams in a multi-team deal last week that also sent Lamar Odom to the Clippers. Miller said it was difficult to part with Harris but he was excited by what Mo Williams brings to the team. Mo Williams said it felt good to be back where he started his career in 2003 and he had always hoped to start for his first team. The Harris-Marvin Williams deal now clears the way for that to happen. "It's always unfortunate when we have to let a player go because all of our players work so hard and they're so invested in helping us win." Miller said. "And it's got to be a tough thing for them. I know it is for us. I wish Devin the best in his career." Mo Williams, dressed in a red T-shirt, black shorts and a New Orleans Saints cap, arrived in Salt Lake City about 8:30 p.m. MDT. He only has one year left on his current deal but expressed hope that he could be in Utah long term. "I'm very excited about a new start for me and a second homecoming," Williams said Monday night. Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor has called letting Mo Williams leave after just one season "the worst: mistake of his career. "I know he says that a lot, but at the same time I was a young basketball player at the time," Mo Williams said. "Obviously he made a decision he thought was best for the organization. I never had a bad taste in my mouth about the organization. I always respected them because they gave me a shot. "I watched 30 teams pass me in the first round. I always had a part of my heart for the Jazz and I'm glad I'm able to come back and prove my worth to them." Harris arrived in Utah in 2011 as part of a blockbuster deal that sent Deron Williams to New Jersey. But Harris struggled to find his niche with the Jazz, and while he stepped up his game late last season, he still has a career 31.5 percent shooting percentage from beyond the arc. Harris, 29, is scheduled to make 8.5 million in 2012-13, the final year of his current contract. Marvin Williams, 29, has averaged 11.5 points for Atlanta in his seven-year career, including 10.2 and 5.2 rebounds last season. Mo Williams was an All-Star as recently as 2009, and was part of a Cleveland team that won 66 games with LeBron James and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2009. He joined the Los Angeles Clippers in 2011. "I think it's going to be great for us to have Mo here," Miller said. "Obviously he competed at the highest level. He knows what it takes to win. . I think he's going to help us win games." Asked if there were more moves to come for the small-market Jazz, Miller said, "I hope so."

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Five observations from Wizards' loss to the Pacers despite Bradley Beal's big night

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Five observations from Wizards' loss to the Pacers despite Bradley Beal's big night

The Washington Wizards lost to the Indiana Pacers 109-101 on Monday night. Here are five observations from the game...

1. Another loss: The Wizards just can't seem to put together a full, 48-minute performance, a collective effort good enough to beat a team that isn't among the worst in basketball. On Monday, they saw a Pacers team that despite missing Victor Oladipo is still very good, and they fell short of what could have been an epic comeback.

The Wizards stormed back from down 25 points, only to collapse in the final minute and get outscored 11-4 to close the game. The final result was another loss, their second straight. They are 11-16 on the year with the Boston Celtics up next on Wednesday.

The defeat spoiled another big night from Bradley Beal. He had 30 points, the fourth straight game he's dropped 27 or more. 

2. Otto went down: The Wizards found themselves in a tough situation on Monday with only nine available players after Otto Porter Jr. left in the first half with a right knee contusion. John Wall and Dwight Howard were already out, meaning the Wizards were down three starters. Markieff Morris then got into early foul trouble, giving head coach Scott Brooks a real dilemma.

Though Porter's injury doesn't seem serious, the Wizards can ill-afford losing anyone right now. It's worth a reminder that, as bad as the Wizards have started this season, they have done so with few injuries to blame.

3. Oubre came through: Not long after Porter went down, Kelly Oubre Jr. stepped in to fill the void. He had one of his best games of the season with 23 points, five rebounds, three steals, and a block.

Oubre shot poorly against the Cavs on Saturday, but overall he has been playing very well lately. This was the fourth straight game he's reached double figures and the third time in that stretch he's scored 19 or more.

In addition to scoring, Oubre did a lot of the things Brooks wants him to do. He drew an offensive foul, brought down two offensive rebounds and forced a few turnovers. Oubre's best attribute is his length and his ability to cause havoc defensively, especially off the ball. He came into this game sixth in the NBA in total deflections and second in deflections per 36 minutes.

4. Dekker debuted: The lack of options for Brooks detailed above and the lopsided score at least brought one positive and that was the debut of Dekker, who checked in with just under four minutes to go in the third quarter. 

Dekker actually played fairly well considering the circumstances and happened to help key a nice little run for the Wizards. Washington closed the third quarter on a 13-0 run once he came in. On one play during that stretch, Dekker got a steal and then finished with a dunk on the other end.

The run with Dekker on the floor extended to 19-0 in the fourth quarter and kept the Wizards within striking distance the rest of the game. Maybe Dekker was the missing piece all along.

5. Turner is good: For the second straight game, the Wizards had no answer for an opposing big man. Last game it was Tristan Thompson, this time it was Myles Turner. 

Turner had a huge first half on the defensive end and found his scoring groove in the second half. He had a monster stat-line of 26 points, 12 rebounds, and five blocks.

The strategy for opposing teams at the moment appears to be to attack the Wizards in the middle, knowing they are just trying to make do with Thomas Bryant and a collection of small-ball fives. Teams may keep doing that until the Wizards stop them.

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Tom Verducci gives more specifics on Bryce Harper's 2016 injury

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Tom Verducci gives more specifics on Bryce Harper's 2016 injury

Entering 2016, Bryce Harper was ready to take over the world. After putting forth one of the most impressive offensive seasons in recent memory in 2015, he was rewarded by being named the youngest unanimous MVP in the history of baseball. The following season, he was prepared to take another step forward.

Instead, he slashed .243/.373/.441 with 24 home runs, and questions abounded about why he was struggling.

Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci, one of baseball’s most accomplished reporters, wrote a story late in the season about how Harper had suffered a shoulder injury, according to a source. The Nationals vehemently denied these reports at the time, claiming that their doctors were not aware of any medical issues with Harper’s shoulder. Mike Rizzo said he asked Harper directly if he was hurt and was told no.

At this year’s Winter Meetings, Verducci spoke with NBC Sports Washington, and he doubled down on his reporting.

“2016, of course, that’s when he injured his shoulder. It was a slide in Milwaukee, about one-third of the way into the season, was never quite the same.”

Whereas in 2016 Verducci simply referred to “a source,” it appears this information came from Harper directly.

“As he told me,” Verducci says, “He could not lift weights upper-body wise through the rest of that season, he lost weight, didn’t have the same kind of power. He was compromised even throwing on defense, he had to compromise by playing much more shallow.”

“The numbers in ‘16 really are a function of the injury.”

One concern Nats fans have about signing Harper to a major deal is how his numbers in the post-MVP years have failed to match 2015. According to Baseball-Reference, his combined Wins Above Replacement total from 2016-18 is 7.5. His bWAR in 2015 alone was 10.0. Still, Harper never had an OPS+ below 114 in that stretch. Even his “down” seasons would still be considered quality years for most big league hitters.

Harper is also just now entering his prime, however, so presumably many of his best seasons are still to come. For one MLB insider, at least, there’s no real cause for concern about a long term deal as long as Harper can stay healthy.

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