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Amnesty Blatche? Don't count on it

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Amnesty Blatche? Don't count on it

Within minutes after learning of plans to sit Andray Blatche due to hisout-of-shapeness, the word "amnesty" ferociously rose to prominence among the WashingtonWizards fan base. The Cinnamon Twins, traded. Rashard Lewis had a buyout clause either theWizards or another team would exercise. Give Blatche and is ill-advisedcontract extension their walking papers - plus a check for 23 million - and asadly comical era of Wizards basketball could be put to rest, so the message boards say.As a sidelined Blatche rides the recumbent bike to nowhere and the teamtraded for two veteran frontcourt types in return for parting with Lewis, onthe surface, some might think indeed the final part of the get out of Dodge trilogyis almost upon us. Starting on Wednesday, when the NBA is truly back open forbusiness, the Wizards have one week to makethis decision.
Yet, ever since they veered away from stroking Lewis a check and toward a wewant something for our money approach, there has been increased skepticismabout a Blatche-ian amnesty departure (in my house anyway). I've hintedat alternative options to help brace the diehards who simply cannot fathomthe "Captain" donning his No. 7 Wizards jersey again. But hey, I barely balance my checkbook and don't study salary cap scenariosfor breakfast. My financial sensibilities can be ignored. Those belonging to Larry Coon, not so much. He's the man responsible for the incrediblydetailed NBA Salary Cap FAQ,an online document NBA writers dealing with such financial matters keepopen on their browser at all times to help make them appear smart.With the zero hour almost upon the Wizards and the other NBA teams with theamnesty arrow still part of their decision-making quiver, one of basketball'sleading salary cap voices offeredhis amnesty-using take. The Wizards section is brief and to the point(and since its an ESPN Insidercolumn, it's cut and pasted below). The bolding is my doing.Washington Wizards
Most likely amnesty cut: None
How likely to use amnesty this season: Outside shot
Other amnesty candidates: Andray Blatche
Notes: Washington will keep its options open, but its most likely action is tostand pat.For comparison, Coon lists players in the "most likely amnestycut" category for eight teams. Of those eight, some like Philadelphia'sElton Brand and Minnesota's Darko Milicic are deemed slam dunks for a payoffs. Others like Metta World Peace, closer to a 50-50 call. But, in Coon's mind, there is at least a debatehappening over certain contractually untenable hoopsters.In Washington, he doesn't seem to think that's the case.None of this means Blatche will return for an eighth season with the Wizardsfranchise. There could be a trade, but that's a long shot at best. That path wouldalmost assuredly require taking on an equally onerous contract in return. Theteam could decide to Keyshawn him, telling Blatche to stay away as the TampaBuccaneers once said to their attitude-fueled wide receiver.Blatche could be with the team at training camp. Maybe he's simplyburied on the depth chart, one currently filled with seven viable oron-the-come frontcourt options. Maybe the franchise's financial folk suggest holding hisnow bloated contract because the more time passes, its trade chip valueincreases as other NBA team grapple with future luxury tax hell. Maybe the team simply keeps him in the fold, hoping a wave of maturity washesover the 25-year-old. Its not as if Blatche isnt talented. He went for 17 and8 per night not so long ago. Perhaps in time he sees the light, the teamregains faith and the organization gets a return back on its investment.Pick an outcome, whatever works for your sensibilities. Just dont assume the amnestyoption is one of them.

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

The 2018 NBA offseason in just three weeks has become one of the wildest summers in the league's history between LeBron James signing with the Lakers, and all the characters that followed him, to DeMarcus Cousins surprising everyone to sign with the Golden State Warriors, to Kawhi Leonard getting traded to the Raptors.

As crazy as it all has been, two teams in the Eastern Conference stand out for so far doing very little, either by choice or circumstance. The Celtics and Sixers, the two teams most see as the favorites in the East, appear at least so far to be running it back with the same group of players.

This appears to be the Celtics' intention. After overhauling their roster last summer, they clearly see an opportunity to take a step forward as-is. Boston was one win away from the NBA Finals and will return Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving from injury. With James gone to the West, they can improve significanly just by keeping it all together.

Boston re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes. Their biggest addition this summer so far has been their first round pick, Robert Williams.

The Sixers, unlike the Celtics, didn't appear to plan on doing it this way. They wanted James and missed out. They reportedly had interest in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, but both went elsewhere. There are no stars left to sign in free agency and the trade market may be drying up.

Philly made some minor moves like trades for Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala. They may also have a deal for Kyle Korver in the works. They also had two first round picks in Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet.

There's a chance the Sixers got better than people think, as many of the moves they made seem smart. But they didn't reel in a big fish and will probably come back for the 2018-19 season with a team very similar to the one that made the second round of the playoffs this spring.

The fact the Celtics and Sixers may stand pat is probably a good thing for the rest of the East. Both teams may improve naturally if they are healthier and if their young players continue to ascend. But neither made a game-changing addition, one that would solidify either as an unstoppable superteam in the conference. 

The West is overloaded with title contenders and All-NBA players. The East, meanwhile, is much more open and it may end up staying that way mainly because Boston and Philly have been quiet so far this summer.

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Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld has stayed relatively busy this summer crafting his new-look lineup for the 2018-19 season. 

One of the team's key additions, Dwight Howard, is set to be introduced as a member of the Wizards on Monday. 

NBC Sports Washington will air the introductory press conference live at 1 p.m. while also streaming it online.  

Ernie Grunfeld and head coach Scott Brooks are both expected to be in attendance. 

The 32-year-old big man is coming off a 2017-18 season with the Charlotte Hornets in which he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. 

Since leaving the Orlando Magic after eight seasons in 2011, Howard has played for four different teams in the last six years. 

Howard is an eight-time all-star and a three-time defensive player of the year. 

 

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John Wall's take on Dwight Howard 

Wizards make Dwight Howard free agent signing official 

By the numbers: Is new Wizards center Dwight Howard still in his NBA prime?