Wizards

Mark Grace blames self for Dbacks firing, not team

Mark Grace blames self for Dbacks firing, not team

PHOENIX (AP) Former Arizona Diamondbacks television analyst Mark Grace says he blames himself, not the team, for firing him last season.

The former first baseman with the Diamondbacks and the Chicago Cubs was fired after he was arrested last August in Scottsdale - his second drunken driving arrest in 15 months.

Grace has pleaded not guilty in October to four felony counts of aggravated DUI. His trial is scheduled for March 19.

Though the Diamondbacks fired Grace after his most recent arrest, the team invited him to participate in a fantasy camp now under way in Scottsdale.

The Arizona Republic (http://bit.ly/UMgVkV ) quotes Grace as saying he was ``happy to grab that olive branch.''

Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall says the team supports Grace and looks forward to his future involvement in the organization.

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John Wall says he knew Kevin Durant wasn't signing with Wizards, wishes they kept Trevor Ariza

John Wall says he knew Kevin Durant wasn't signing with Wizards, wishes they kept Trevor Ariza

One unexpected part of the NBA's months-long hiatus has been the unearthing of stories from Wizards and Bullets past. We have learned some amazing things like the fact Gilbert Arenas was behind John Wall doing 'The Dougie' before his NBA debut, how Arenas mistakenly talked trash to Kobe Bryant while on the tarmac after his 60-point game and how Jerry Stackhouse hated playing with Michael Jordan.

This week brought another revelation from Wizards lore. Wall appeared on the Team 980 and told host Kevin Sheehan he had a good feeling how the summer of 2016 would go for the Wizards.

If you remember, the Wizards lined up everything to go after Kevin Durant in free agency, including by letting defensive specialist Trevor Ariza leave. Turns out, Wall still wonders 'what if' and says he knew Durant wasn't coming to Washington.

"One thousand percent. We still think about that to this day. I feel like that was the biggest piece we lost," Wall said whether he felt they should have kept Ariza.

"We felt like we weren't getting Kevin, just from knowing everything and thinking ahead. Like, okay we know Kevin's not coming here so just keep the core we have. We have a great core with Trevor Ariza and all the guys we had. Don't get me wrong, Paul was great for us. Paul Pierce was great for us, but we just felt like that experience we had with Trevor and the way he was shooting the ball and things and the way he defended, he was the perfect person we needed for LeBron [James]. Even though nobody's going to stop LeBron, he just made it tough on LeBron."

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The Wizards not only missed out on Durant that summer, they famously never even got a meeting with him. The plan didn't work out, but that doesn't mean it was a bad plan.

To this day, you could argue the Wizards did some things right along the way. They found two young stars in Wall and Bradley Beal, cleared cap room and then went after a star player who would have complemented their core perfectly. The reason they ultimately had no chance to sign him was not their fault, he admittedly just didn't want to play at home.

Could they have sensed that? Maybe, maybe not. Durant didn't express that publicly until after he signed with the Warriors. That said, it sounds like Wall had an inkling Durant wasn't coming to D.C.

Where the Wizards truly erred that summer was not in chasing Durant, it was not having a viable back-up plan. Their Plan B was to sign Al Horford, but he went to Boston. That led them to Plan C, which was to hand out a slew of multi-year contracts that strapped their salary cap for years to come. The decision to sign Ian Mahinmi to a $64 million deal is still affecting them now.

In hindsight, it's hard to disagree with what Wall said. The Wizards thought they couldn't afford Ariza, but then the salary cap spiked and his contract became a bargain as he helped the Rockets become one of the best teams in the league.

Who knows how things would have turned out for the Wizards if they kept Ariza. Easy to say now, but clearly it remains on Wall's mind.

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Watch Alex Ovechkin’s son Sergei work on his slap shot

Watch Alex Ovechkin’s son Sergei work on his slap shot

The future looks bright for the Capitals with Alex Ovechkin’s son Sergei as an up-and-coming star.

Ovechkin’s wife Nastya captured an adorable moment on her Instagram story Thursday afternoon when Sergei practiced his shot and found the back of his miniature net on six consecutive attempts – just like his father would.


Nastya praised her 1-year-old, saying “Bravo!” after every goal scored, before he celebrated in classic Ovechkin fashion.

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While Ovi's eldest son has been occupied with his new role as a big brother as of late, he makes sure to leave plenty time to work on his slap shot and practice his celly, too, of course.

It looks like the young star is already on track to catch his father at 700 and make his debut in the 2038 NHL season.

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