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Loe, Evans lead Saint Louis past Dayton 81-52

Loe, Evans lead Saint Louis past Dayton 81-52

ST. LOUIS (AP) Rob Loe scored 17 points and Dwayne Evans had 15 as Saint Louis defeated Dayton 81-52 Saturday.

The Billikens (16-5, 5-2 Atlantic 10), coming off a 75-58 upset of No. 9 Butler on Thursday, won their fourth straight game by shooting 51 percent from the floor, making 9 of 22 3-pointers and taking advantage of 21 turnovers by the Flyers (12-9, 2-5).

Kwamain Mitchell added 12 points for Saint Louis, and Jordair Jett had 11 points and six assists.

Dayton got 12 points from Josh Benson and 10 from Vee Sanford. The 29-point loss matched the Flyers' largest margin of defeat in Atlantic 10 play, equaling a 97-68 loss to Rhode Island on Jan. 4, 1997.

The Billikens led by as many as 22 points in the first half, when Dayton went scoreless for seven minutes covering 12 possessions.

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What Gregg Popovich told Scott Brooks after the Wizards traded for Davis Bertans

What Gregg Popovich told Scott Brooks after the Wizards traded for Davis Bertans

When the Spurs traded Davis Bertans to the Wizards for basically nothing this summer, Gregg Popovich could not have been happy about it. 

The Wizards play the Spurs on Wednesday at 7 p.m. EST on NBC Sports Washington.

The Spurs did it to free up cap space to sign Marcus Morris to a two-year, $20 million contract, but then Morris backed out of the agreement to sign a one-year, $15 million deal with the Knicks. 

So the Spurs were without one of Popovich's favorite players and had an empty spot to fill with Morris in New York. They ended up bringing on Trey Lyles, but Bertans has to feel like the one who got away for San Antonio.

In his first season with the Wizards, Bertans has been solid off the bench, averaging 11.7 points on 41.8 percent from three. The Wizards knew they were getting a shooter in Bertans, but Popovich told Scott Brooks that the big man was capable of much more. 

"[Popovich] is a good scout," Brooks told Candance Buckner Wednesday. "He nailed it on [Bertans] when I talked to him over the summer. He said, '[Davis] is more than a shooter.'"

Just 11 games into the season, we've already seen Bertans' ability to handle the ball and create his own shot off the dribble. Last Friday in Minnesota, we even saw Bertans play as the ball handler in a pick and roll with fellow big man Moe Wagner. 

Not many teams can put two bigs in pick and roll situations, and for an already elite offense for the Wizards (3rd in Off. RTG), it adds a wrinkle that could give almost any defense nightmares. 

As Brooks continues to configure his rotations, Bertans' should continue to increase on the offensive end. Whether he can help the team's atrocious defense is yet to be seen, but the Wizards clearly got another steal in a trade with a team trying to offload salary.

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    Bringing everyone back from a championship team is difficult, but the Mystics could defy the odds

    Bringing everyone back from a championship team is difficult, but the Mystics could defy the odds

    All good things must come to an end. 

    Salary caps ensure that adage rings true for championship teams. Each year title-winning teams are forced to part ways with the very players that put them on top of the sports world. 

    The Washington Nationals are a team that quickly faced that reality this year. On the day of their World Series championship parade, they were forced to make several contract decisions on stars that had just won them their first pennant. Less than a week after winning it all, Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon were free agents and available for any team to sign.  

    No title-touting team is immune.  But just as tenacious the Washington Mystics were on their warpath to a WNBA championship, so too is their ability to bring everyone for another crack at the title in 2020. 

    There is the space for the Mystics to bring back each member of their championship team.

    Last season Washington had one of the deepest teams in the WNBA. So deep that Emma Meesseman, the WNBA Finals MVP, primarily came off the bench when the squad was fully healthy. Depth extended past Meesseman too. Several of the team’s back-up players could easily be starters elsewhere in the league.

    There were 12 players on the championship roster, seven are already under contract to return: Natasha Cloud, LaToya Sanders, Ariel Atkins, Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, Myisha Hines-Allen and Kiara Leslie. 

    Assuming the salary cap goes up the same amount it did from 2018 to 2019, the cap will be roughly $1,014,900 in 2020. However, the WNBA and the players’ association are negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement. A new deal could completely flip the cap figures – and maximum contracts – as one of the bigger issues discussed is player pay. The rest of this post could be a moot point. 

    But going off the $1,014,900 figure and the contract amounts on Spotrac.com combined with Tianna Hawkins’ extension, Washington has roughly $502,072 of their 2020 cap space remaining. Educated guesses would assume that there could be even more room to work with as the CBA gets developed. Bigger player salaries would mean bigger salary caps. Only four or five spots are remaining as rosters are required to have a minimum of 11 players, a maximum of 12.

    Five members of the 2019 squad are set to enter free agency. This includes Elena Delle Donne, Kristi Toliver and Meesseman. All three more than deserving of max contracts. 

    Keep in mind that the WNBA’s free agency is less robust than the other major sports leagues in the country. Partly this is due to the max contract and salary cap system in place. In the NBA, at most teams could fit four maximum contract players – there are also supermax contracts that would fit less. Eight maximum contract players could fit on a WNBA roster to slide under the cap.

    Of the three (Delle Donne, Toliver, Meesseman) it is difficult to imagine any of them playing anywhere else in the league.

    Delle Donne finally won her elusive championship this year. She came to the Mystics from the Chicago Sky back in 2017 to be close to her family in Delaware. During the WNBA Finals this season she still stressed the importance of her proximity to her family. There is no reason to suggest that will change this offseason.

    Toliver is an assistant coach with the Washington Wizards. Both basketball teams are owned under the same company, Monumental Sports and Entertainment. She could make the full jump into the coaching ranks after this season if she chose, but this season she displayed that there is a lot in her tank. 

    Meesseman took a year off in 2018 and looks better than ever. Washington is the only WNBA franchise she has ever played for.

    A combination of the three returning is not guaranteed but space is there. Three max contracts, at the estimated at $119,500 by the previous CBA, fit the salary constraints. 

    That even leaves $143,572 for the final one to two spots on the roster. A more than capable figure to account for the remaining members of the 2019 championship team in Aerial Powers and Kim Mestdagh. 

    Head coach Mike Thibault, who is also the general manager, constructed the roster brilliantly to bring together the first championship for the franchise. Basically, everyone stayed from the runner-up team in 2018. Roster constraints won’t be the issue. Rather, convincing everyone to ‘Run it back’ for a second time will be the question. 

    Throughout the 2019 season, the Mystics defied all standards set by previous WNBA teams. They have a chance to defy another standard set by championship teams this offseason. 

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