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Loss to Bulls could become a win for Wizards come NBA Draft lottery time

Loss to Bulls could become a win for Wizards come NBA Draft lottery time

The Washington Wizards lost to the Chicago Bulls 115-114 on Wednesday night. Here are five observations from the game...

1. In Wizards World these days, wins are losses and losses are wins. Their draft lottery odds are paramount. The future is not now, the future in a way hinges on the night of May 14 when the ping-pong balls start flying.

So, though the Wizards lost on Wednesday to a lowly Bulls team that is ravaged by injuries, that could be for the best. They entered the day tied in losses with three other teams. Each loss helps their chances.

2. Though there was a stated effort in recent days and weeks to scale back Bradley Beal's minutes, it wasn't until Wednesday that we saw the Wizards come out with a defined plan to limit his floor time and stick to it. Beal logged only 22 minutes, his fewest since Nov. 30.

That is, of course, the right thing to do. Beal has played more minutes than anyone this season and is on pace to play in all 82 games for the second straight year. The Wizards do not need to win games, and Beal needs a break. The only thing that plan could affect is his numbers, with All-NBA a possibility. But he still managed 19 points and four rebounds.

3. Few Wizards players have as much riding on these last few games as Jabari Parker, and he had a bit of a setback against the Bulls. Parker departed in the second quarter with a left knee sprain and did not return. He left with only two points on 0-for-5 shooting in 12 minutes.

It makes sense Parker wouldn't return, even if the injury is far from serious. He has a history of knee problems and is just three games away from the offseason. This summer he is likely to hit free agency with a team option for 2019-20 the Wizards are basically a lock to not pick up. He needs to play it safe, even if it drops his scoring average down a tick.

4. Trevor Ariza was once again a no-show due to the groin strain that has bothered him for weeks now. Ariza, in fact, may have played his last game as a Wizard.

That's because the Wizards have shut him down for the season, or at least probably will according to head coach Scott Brooks. That effectively means he's done with just three games to go.

Ariza is an upcoming free agent, and the change in front office leadership could mean he's gone. He could simply want to head elsewhere based on the money the Wizards have available to offer him or the potential to join a contender.

5. Jeff Green was absent again for the third straight game. For him, it isn't an injury. He was listed as out due to rest, but Brooks hasn't offered many specifics.

Like Ariza, Green is due to hit free agency. Brooks hasn't indicated Green is done for the year, but it's possible he has also played his last game in a Washington uniform.


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Wizards vs. Bulls provides awkward reunions for Otto Porter, Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker days after trade

Wizards vs. Bulls provides awkward reunions for Otto Porter, Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker days after trade

Saturday night’s game between the Wizards and Bulls may not stand out to the casual NBA fan for being the most anticipated match-up on the schedule, given where the two teams currently are in the standings. But it is guaranteed to be awkward.

That’s because these two teams just three days ago executed a significant trade. The Wizards sent Otto Porter Jr. to Chicago and the Bulls shipped Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker to Washington. Now those players will face their former teams as they continue to come to grips with what was by all accounts a surprising move.

The game is set for a 8 p.m. tip-off on NBC Sports Washington.

Porter will go up against the Wizards, the team that drafted him third overall in 2013 and that gave him a max contract in 2017. He played six years in Washington and grew up from a scrawny 20-year-old to a 25-year-old with one of the best three-point shots in the league.

Portis was drafted by the Bulls back in 2015 and spent four years there. Though he hailed from Arkansas, he fully embraced playing for Chicago and was genuinely shocked when they moved him.

“Everybody knows how much I prided myself in playing for the Bulls and how much I really loved playing for the city of Chicago. It’s a business and I finally got my first taste of it,” he said.

“I found out about 20 minutes before our game against the Pelicans that I was going to get traded. My stomach dropped and I just left the gym immediately.”

Parker only played 39 games for the Bulls, but had a tumultuous tenure with what was his hometown team. He was pulled from the rotation in mid-December and didn’t play essentially for a month. That time included a public dispute with Bulls head coach Jim Boylan, whom Parker seems to hold some strong opinions about.

“I did everything right on paper. I was doing my job and I didn’t let my coach’s words become a distraction for my inner growth and my development,” he said of persevering through those tough times.

Portis, though he left on amicable terms, is excited to get a shot at his former team.

“I’m kind of really pumped for that,” Portis said.

This will be the second game with their new team for all three players, and all three played well in their debuts on Friday night. Porter had 18 points on 7-for-9 shooting in a win over the Nets. Portis had 30 points on 12-for-18 shooting and Parker had nine assists and 11 rebounds in a win over the Cavs.

Now they will suit up in their new jerseys to face their former teams. It’s probably going to be at least a little weird.




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Why Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker were exactly what the Wizards were looking for

Why Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker were exactly what the Wizards were looking for

John Wall’s ruptured Achilles was going to have major ramifications for the Wizards at some point. There were going to be cap casualties, based simply on the fact Wall will make $37.8 million next year and will miss at least most of the season due to his rehab. 

Based on his salary and the Wizards’ lack of filled roster spots for next season, Otto Porter Jr. seemed like a likely candidate to be dealt. Sure enough, he was. 

The Wizards shipped Porter to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday, and in return received forwards Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis as well as a 2023 second round pick. The Athletic first reported the news, and the details were confirmed to NBC Sports Washington.

The trade gives the Wizards some much-needed long-term salary cap relief. Porter was due to make about $55.8 million over the next two seasons. Parker has a team option for $20 million next year, and Portis on an expiring deal.

They could keep one or both of them, or move on and drop well below the projected 2019-20 salary cap of $109 million. Opting out of Parker's deal alone would put them $20 million under. For a team that was due to pay the luxury tax after this season, that sounds very good.

The Wizards, though, will first have the rest of the season to evaluate Parker and Portis as options to keep moving forward. Portis, in particular, could be a good option to retain.

The 23-year-old is a restricted free agent and represents a possible long-term option at power forward. He missed over a month this season due to a right MCL sprain and also battled an ankle injury, but has since returned to put up the best numbers of his career.

Portis is averaging 14.1 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting 45 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from three. He joins their rotation as instantly their top rebounder based on per game average.

Portis could be the team’s long-term replacement for Morris, who had filled the role as stretch-four the past four seasons. He is younger, has intriguing upside and shoots a higher percentage.

Parker, also 23, gives the Wizards a lottery ticket of sorts. He is trying to revive his career after two ACL tears. Just two years ago, he was nearly an All-Star for the Milwaukee Bucks. However, this season he has averaged a modest 14.3 points while shooting 47.4 percent overall and 32.5 percent from three.

Parker can replace Porter’s scoring right off the bat, but whether he can regain his form from a few years ago is no guarantee. Perhaps a fresh start in Washington will do him well. 

If it doesn't work out, they can move on from his contract and free up $20 million to re-sign their own players, or become players in free agency for the first time in several years. They have more options financially now than they have in quite some time.

Though the Wizards traded one of their best players in Porter, acquiring Parker and Portis still allows them to compete in the short-term and chase their goal of making the playoffs. They added depth and scoring and may have upgraded at rebounding, one of their biggest weaknesses this season.

Just recently, majority owner Ted Leonsis expressed his commitment to Porter as part of the Wizards’ core. But that was before Wall’s injury. Clearly, his long recovery timeline changed the Wizards' plans.

They had to do something, either now or over the summer, to fix their salary cap situation. Trading Porter was their best option, and they didn't wait long to strike.