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After 'devastating' news, Wizards prepare to play without Wall

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After 'devastating' news, Wizards prepare to play without Wall

The dynamic of the Wizards' series with the Atlanta Hawks has changed drastically after Thursday's revelation that point guard John Wall could be out for the postseason with five non-displaced fractures in his left hand and wrist. The team should have a definitive answer soon. 

"There's no timetable for something like this is the best way I can put it," coach Randy Wittman said with Game 3 at Verizon Center on Saturday. "We got to be prepared as a team to play without him. Our guys are doing that. Knowing John, if there's a slight chance to get in, he's holding out for that. That's the type of kid he is."

Wall had X-ray at Phillips Arena after Game 1, when he had a hard fall in the second quarter of a 104-98 victory for the Wizards. He said then as well as after a 106-90 loss in Game 2, when he sat out, that there were no fractures or structural damage shown in the tests. Wednesday, however, it was evident that something was amiss with such bad swelling. 

A non-displaced fracture occurs when there is a crack or break in the bone but the bone itself remains aligned. That makes it tougher to diagnose initially and Wall's swelling compounded the matter. A displaced fracture results in a shift in the bone from its original position.

"A step at a time. The toughest guy I've been around. We just got to let this play out the way it's going to play out. I can't give you what that is," Wittman said. "Swelling and stuff has a lot to do with it. Who knows how long something like that is going to stay. That would've been true today even if we didn't have the report back of the broken bone. His hand is so big he can't handle the ball, he can't control anything. ... Let's get that swelling out there, see where we're at and move forward from there."

Wall had 18 points and 13 assists in the win vs. Atlanta. He averaged 12.5 assists per game in a first-round series sweep of the Toronto Raptors. Paul Pierce has played a big role in their postseason success as well, and now he'll have to do even more.

"It's definitely difficult for the team but I'm sure it's more devastating for John," Pierce said. "He worked so hard to get to this point in his career, to play so well throughout these playoffs to hear that type of news it's devastating. I'm more hurt for him than anything. I know how bad he wants to be out there so my prayers go out to him and his family right now."

Ramon Sessions practiced with the first unit for the first time and had 21 points in Game 2 which was a playoff career high. Garrett Temple and Will Bynum also could factor into the game plan off the bench.

"It's definitely got to come from me and a number of other guys who have the opportunity now to step up," Pierce said. "By no means do we feel like this series is over or our goals change. We're going to continue to go out there, reach for our goals and continue to fight each and every night. ... It's up to everybody to rally around one another, use this as motivation and go out here and try to win these games especially for John.

"Ramon has been a starter in this league. He understands his role. He's not John Wall. He's not the guy to go out there and get you 25 and 13. We just ask him to continue what he needs to do. Attack, when the shots are there take them, move the ball, play steady defense, it's not going to come from one person. One guy cannot fill John's role. It's going to have to be collectively whether its him, Garrett Temple, Will Bynum, not only from the point guards but other guys, too. Hopefully these guys are motivated. Nobody picked us in the first round. Nobody is picking us in this round. Nobody expect these guys to go in there and to do the job. We in this locker room, we expect to."

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Wizards' preseason showed how Jeff Green can help bench score from inside and out

Wizards' preseason showed how Jeff Green can help bench score from inside and out

When Mike Scott left to join the L.A. Clippers, the Wizards replaced him as the backup power forward with Jeff Green and in doing so found a guy who is similar in many ways, albeit for a cheaper price. He is experienced, versatile offensively and even a local guy who roots for the Redskins.

Where they differ on the offensive end is the ways they like to score. Scott is more of a three-point threat, while Green is more comfortable operating in the post. 

Last season with the Wizards, Scott attempted only a third of his shots from less than 10 feet, while Green took 54.2 of his attempts from that range. Nearly a third of Green's shots (30.3) came within five feet of the rim.

Green's ability to score inside and with his back to the basket may end up complementing others in the Wizards' second unit quite well. Three-point shooting is more important than ever in today's NBA and his ability to draw the defense inside can open up the floor for others like Tomas Satoransky, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers.

The Wizards did not have anyone on their bench last season with Green's level of skill in the post and Green showed in the preseason a willingness to pass from the paint.

Against the Knicks in the Wizards' fourth preseason game, Green had the ball in the post when he noticed Satoransky's defender was moving closer inside, perhaps anticipating a rebound. He fired the ball to Satoransky, who pump-faked a three and dribbled to his right before knocking down a jumper at the top of the key.

"It's just smart basketball. There are a lot of unselfish guys," Green said of the Wizards' bench. "I think we just work well together. We feed off each other. I think we know how to play the right way."

Satoransky led the Wizards with a 46.5 three-point percentage last season. He knocked down 51.2 percent off catch-and-shoot plays. Rivers shot 37.8 percent from three last year for the Clippers and 37.1 percent on catch-and-shoot looks.

Oubre shot only 34.1 percent overall from three, but that number dropped significantly towards the end of the year. He can get hot from three and is dangerous when cutting to the basket off the ball. Ian Mahinmi, though not highly skilled in the post, can make defenders pay for leaving him on double teams.

It's not only about threes for Rivers and Satoransky, as Satoransky showed on that one play in New York. Both are solid at catch-and-gos. Rivers is decisive and quick and Satoranksy has made noticeable strides since he entered the league and taking off once he gets a pass. 

Green, 32, is still learning their strengths.

"I try to use their attributes to our advantage and creating what I can create," Green said. "If they can shoot and I'm being doubled, I'm going to make the right play and get it to the shooter."

The Wizards made upgrading their bench a big priority this offseason and the net result may be the most versatile group they have had in years. They can shoot threes, run the floor and, with Green in the mix, work inside and out.

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Capital City Go-Go now allow Wizards make final roster cut to 14 and leave the 15th spot open

Capital City Go-Go now allow Wizards make final roster cut to 14 and leave the 15th spot open

On Saturday, two days before the deadline to finalize Opening Day rosters, the Washington Wizards waived four players - LaVoy Allen, Chris Chiozza, Chasson Randle and Tiwian Kendley - and in doing so trimmed their roster down to 14 players. That's one fewer than the NBA roster maximum of 15 players, meaning they opted to leave one of their roster spots vacant.

This was not a big surprise, but it's worth going through the reasons why they chose to do so for those who may be wondering. 

For one, the Wizards have a lot of money committed to their roster and could use some savings. They are fourth in the NBA this season with a total cap of $134.9 million. That is $11.1 million more than the salary cap limit, which means they are due to pay $19.1 million in luxury tax next year, according to Spotrac.

The Wizards also don't absolutely need that 15th player. They have two two-way players in Devin Robinson and Jordan McRae who collectively give them depth at a wide variety of positions. 

Under two-way contracts, they can be activated for up to 45 days this season before the Wizards have to decide on a fully guaranteed NBA deal. The NBA adjusted the rules this season to exclude travel days from that 45-day clock. The NBA days limit for Robinson and McRae also does not begin until G-League training camps begin on Oct. 22.

Speaking of the G-League, the Wizards have their own team now. The Capital City Go-Go will begin their inaugural season in November and that will give the organization the deepest stable of prospects (and roster spots) is has ever had. They now have much more room than ever to stash young players that would otherwise be considered for the final spot.

Even if the Wizards didn't have that option, as they did not last year, it wouldn't necessarily convince them to fill the last roster spot. Last season, they went without a 15th player for much of the year and for extended stretches only carried 13, the league minimum. They even rolled with 12 after the NBA trade deadline, as the league allows two weeks for teams to reach the minimum.

That recent history alone was enough to suggest they wouldn't fill the 15th spot. And, truthfully, that 15th spot rarely came into play as an actual need. This isn't the NFL where injuries make every roster spot incredibly valuable, or MLB where extra innings can sometimes make it feel like their rosters aren't deep enough.

Perhaps the Wizards will fill the 15th spot at some point this season. They can do so in a variety of ways, including if they trade one player for two. Just don't count on it, for all the reasons listed above.

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