Wizards

New Jazz point guard Williams not afraid to talk

New Jazz point guard Williams not afraid to talk

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Mo Williams leaned over and made sure the young one knew what to expect.

Only in this case, he wasn't offering guidance to one of his youthful Utah Jazz teammates, he was talking to his fifth son, still in the womb and due on Feb. 1.

``I'm not missing any games,'' Williams said of conversations he's had when his wife tells him their unborn child is kicking and can hear him. ``I already talked to (him) and we agreed it's going to be on the All-Star break.

``Obviously, I'll have to buy him a better car when he's 16. All my other kids get something like I had, a Ford Taurus or something. But it's a good deal.''

The Jazz certainly are hoping the one they made for Williams is good as well and provides them with an upgrade over point guard Devin Harris.

One thing is already clear even if the Jazz are just a few days into preseason: Williams is a talker.

``He's not afraid to express himself, let people know how he feels,'' said Paul Millsap, the team's elder statesman and the only player remaining from Utah's 2010 playoff run. ``That's good. That's a good trait to have at the point guard position.''

Williams' journey back to Salt Lake City already has been well-documented.

The Jazz drafted him No. 47 overall in 2003 and, in what personnel guru Kevin O'Connor still calls ``my worst mistake,'' allowed Williams to leave for Milwaukee after just one season.

In late June, the Jazz got their man back, acquiring Williams in a multi-team deal that also sent Lamar Odom to the Clippers. Williams makes his preseason home debut Friday night against Oklahoma City.

O'Connor cited Williams' toughness, aggressiveness and work ethic and said he was a capable scorer, shooter and could provide leadership to a group that features four talented players 22 or younger in Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks.

Williams is confident he can be all of the above.

``It's just a little more learning the guys and chemistry, and obviously I'm still learning what they want because I want to be an extension of them. I want to be that coach on the court,'' he said.

There's no question Williams is a different person from the one who arrived in 2003 with a single suitcase after being bypassed in the first round.

``As a rookie, I was just happy to get five minutes a game,'' he said. ``I was happy to be in the NBA. Now it's trying to win a championship, and my overall goal is when I see these young guys out there, to try to help them.''

Last year in Los Angeles, however, hardly went the way Williams envisioned, and it hurt when the Clippers replaced him with not one but possibly two Hall of Fame point guards in Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups.

When he did play, he played angry but channeled it into something positive.

``It was tough at first on the bench,'' he said. ``But overall it helped me become a better leader. ... I took it as whatever is in front of me, I'm going to make the best out of it. I think for the most part I did.''

He would go on to lead the Clippers in 3-point shooting (.389) and played well enough to finish eighth in the Sixth Man Award voting.

Fellow guard Randy Foye said knowing Williams had been traded to Utah is one reason he decided to sign as a free agent, having played with him in L.A.

And big man Al Jefferson, 27, has known Williams since their prep days in Mississippi, when Williams was a senior at a bigger school.

``I thought he was the best player in the world,'' Jefferson of Williams, who turns 30 in December.

How they mesh now will go a long way in determining Utah's success on the court.

In the preseason opener, Williams scored Utah's first seven points and dished out six assists, but he also had four turnovers as he and his teammates started getting used to each other's style.

``He's learning what I'm asking from the ... leaders on this team,'' said Corbin, who took time to get to know Williams on the golf course this summer. ``He's a talker, and it will help us going forward.''

The Williams' boys already know that, even the one kicking up a fuss inside.

``When he's kicking, then I get down there and have a conversation with him,'' Williams said. ``I have to tell him first, `It's daddy' ... so he knows my voice, so when he comes out he already knows who to be scared of, who runs this.

``I don't want to scare him too much. I don't want him to stay in there too long.''

Of course, Williams is flashing a wide smile as he talks about his family, and his charismatic personality on and off the court.

Backup point guard Earl Watson already likes it.

``I think he brings a swagger to our team,'' Watson said. ``He's definitely a great outside shooter and plays with a ton of confidence. He plays the game with a lot of fire. He's somebody I can feed off just watching him. It's going to be fun.''

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Bradley Beal was the first guard cut from the All-NBA teams

Bradley Beal was the first guard cut from the All-NBA teams

Bradley Beal missed out on an All-NBA selection, and therefore, qualification for a supermax contract. Voting tallies show he received the most votes among guards that missed the cut. 

That's small consolation for the only player to average 25 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists this year, but still not make the All-NBA team. 

Here's a look at just how close Beal came to Kemba Walker, the last guard to sneak in. 

Walker (51 points) beat out Beal (34 points) more narrowly than at any other position. Klay Thompson received 27 points. 

It's rare air to be ranked so closely with guards like Walker and three-time champion Thompson.

Still, that hardly makes up for the earning potential the Wizards star missed out on this summer.

Damian Lillard, who was drafted in the same year as Beal, made second team All-NBA and qualified for a $191 million supermax contract from the Trail Blazers. 

That's a big-money difference for a very close voting tally.

On the flip side, that could mean the Wizards can afford to hang onto Beal. They would have had a difficult time offering him a supermax contract given their current salary cap situation. 

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If the Nationals’ season isn’t over, it’s close

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If the Nationals’ season isn’t over, it’s close

NEW YORK -- Dealing with tomorrow has often become the only palatable way for the Nationals to forget yesterday.

They lose in eye-gouging fashion, roll in the next day to reset, and, at least in New York, find a topper. That formula has them on a train home from what could have been a series for re-emergence, but instead placed them in a worse place than they started. Washington is 19-31 following a sweep in Flushing. It would have to go 71-41 (a .634 winning percentage) to reach 90 wins. If it’s not already, the season is on the verge of being over.

A slog-filled drive from midtown to Queens delivered the tired team back to its baseball quarters Thursday morning. Sean Doolittle changed then pulled his red hood up, sitting at his locker 10 hours after he stated he was “disgusted” with himself for Wednesday’s crash. Such a devastating night has been common for the 2019 Nationals. It was not for Doolittle. He hit a batter for the first time since May 29, 2018. He allowed four earned runs in an outing for the fifth time in 348 career appearances (1.4 percent of the time he pitches). In keeping with the season, the worst-possible outcome arrived at the worst-possible time, then another terrible one followed.

Martinez remained upbeat, sipping a morning drink concoction common in his native Puerto Rico. He rewatched Wednesday's game -- a masochist’s errand this season -- as he regularly does, went to sleep around 2 a.m., awoke at 7, arrived at Citi Field around 9:45. The leash on his future has been shortened greatly by the four failing days in New York.  

The Nationals wandered out for stretch and light throwing in front of an oddball scene. Thursday was “Weather Day” at Citi Field with the Big Apple-famous Mr. G hosting in his Mets jersey. Mr. G  -- known to his friends as Irv Gikofsy, New York City’s most popular weatherman -- kicked up a “Let’s go Mets!” chant down the third base line while the Nationals relievers ran routes and caught a foam football to get loose in the same part of the park. The recently re-emerged Mrs. Met, who popped back up in 2013 after decades of dormancy, used her giant noggin to nod along.

The game was another compilation of missed opportunities, bullpen disasters and bad luck. Washington left eight runners on base through the first six innings alone. The Mets’ path to runs was aided by slop and basics. Carlos Gomez single in the fifth. He ran to steal second, Yan Gomes’ throw went into center field, Gomez went on to third base. A sacrifice fly scored him.

J.D. Davis singled in the sixth. Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch. Stephen Strasburg’s wild pitch moved them both over. Another sacrifice fly scored one, a Wilson Ramos infield single scored the other. The Mets led, 3-1.

The Nationals didn’t score with runners on first and third and one out in the first. They did not score after Juan Soto’s leadoff triple in the second inning. They did not score after a one-out double in the third. They did not score with runners on second and third and one out in the fourth. They did not score with a runner on second and one out in the fifth. This is not hyperbole for effect. It’s facts. Sigh-worthy ones.

The only effective offseason signings are Kurt Suzuki and Patrick Corbin. The others have not just resided below expectations, they have been among the worst in the league at their position.

Gomes, acquired in a trade, leads the league in passed balls. He’s committed three errors in his 29 starts. Coming into Thursday, he had a 65 OPS-plus (100 is average).

Brian Dozier started the afternoon with a 73 OPS-plus and -0.5 WAR. Those two numbers would be worse if not for a recent uptick both in the field and plate from him.

And, the most egregious failure of the offseason has been Trevor Rosenthal’s saga. Martinez was asked directly Wednesday if Rosenthal simply has the “yips”. He said they still believe Rosenthal’s problems are mechanics, not thoughts, despite him throwing baseballs to the backstop in central Pennsylvania. The luxury-tax averse Nationals are paying him $6 million to do so.

Finally, Thursday was enough for Martinez to shed his tranquility. After Howie Kendrick was ejected in the top of the eighth, Martinez ran to home plate to start an argument of his own. He half-circled home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman, yelled, pointed and carried on in a manner that begged Dreckman to throw him out. He did. Martinez went from rankled to furious. He spiked his hat, kicked the dirt, and yelled some more. The event provided his third career ejection and looked to be among the final moves of a manager on the verge of returning to private life.

A strange thing followed: his team rallied for three runs to take a 4-3 lead. No matter. There’s no goodness Washington’s bullpen can’t undermine. Wander Suero gave up a three-run homer in the eighth to Gomez. New day, different reliever, same ear-bleeding outcome.

Which again made talking about tomorrow the only way to deal with the grotesqueness of today. Trouble now is tomorrow may not matter any more.

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