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Dudley on Doc Rivers: Hall of Fame coach, but not GM


Dudley on Doc Rivers: Hall of Fame coach, but not GM

Jared Dudley, a Southern California kid, spent the 2013-14 season with the Los Angeles Clippers. The dream scenario turned nightmarish. The versatile forward played through knee pain, but not at his expected high level.

One season was enough for Clippers coach and president of basketball operations Doc Rivers. Desperate to unload the final two seasons of Dudley's contract, Rivers traded a future first rounder and the veteran to Milwaukee for a hodgepodge of nominal assets.

Since then, Dudley regained his form with the playoff Bucks and now leads the NBA in 3-point shooting as a member of the Wizards. With the Clippers at Verizon Center Monday night, Rivers was asked if he regrets that summer of 2014 deal.

"Well I wish [Dudley] would have played that way. He'd still be in LA," the coach stated. "You can go either way with that one. He was injured with us. It just didn't work out."

The trade did for everyone else.

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Milwaukee reached the playoffs for the third time in nine years. Sporting a talented and youthful roster, the Bucks also moved Dudley after one season, but did so for needed cap space, not to unload a problem. They only received a future second round pick from Washington, but didn't send other viable assets with Dudley's expiring contract.

Told of Rivers' pregame comments following Monday's game, Dudley said of the Clippers-Bucks trade, "I think you look at Doc. He's a Hall of Fame coach. I don't know if he's a Hall of Fame GM. Going forward, we'll see. I think Milwaukee loved that."

Dudley, 30, started his career in Charlotte before shining over five seasons in Phoenix. Now he's with the Wizards, his fourth team in four seasons. That means there's frequent opportunity for revenge against a former employer. He admits motivation was on the menu with Monday's matchup.

"It's extra because of how it ended," said Dudley, who averaged 6.9 points and 23 minutes in 74 games with the Clippers.

The issue started with kneecap pain for a player who at that point in his career never had a significant injury. Dudley said Rivers "knew about it. I let him know about it numerous times." There were times when Dudley said he anticipated getting rest, but injuries elsewhere had Rivers ignoring those requests.

"You kind of getting tired of talking about it in a sense," Dudley said before continuing. "For me it was a dream to be able to play for [being] from San Diego. Going in there basically with a (partially) fractured kneecap and having to play through pain, letting them know I couldn't go. Still going out there and not being able to play to my full ability."

At the time of the trade, USA Today's Sam Amick wrote, "It was no secret that Clippers coach and president of basketball operations Doc Rivers wasn't a huge fan of Dudley's game."

Despite a clear difference on the playing through pain scenario with Los Angeles, Dudley said, "I don't look at it as [Rivers'] fault anymore because as a player, you know your body. I let them know. I should have stood more firmly and said I can't go. That's something I've learned."

Dudley had back surgery shortly after the trade to Washington. Despite missing training camp and most of the preseason, he entered Monday shooting a career-high 48.8 percent on 3-point attempts. His scoreless performance in Monday's 108-91 loss is not indicative of the perimeter presence he's provided the Wizards.

"If there is one thing that I've told players going forward, you know your body," he continued. "When you get out there, you have to play at a high level. People don't care if you're hurt. Sometimes you can play through [pain]. ...For that knee injury, I couldn't even bend my knee at the time."

Though he regrets playing with the injury, Dudley loves the end result.

"I thought it hurt me, but to be honest with you, it was a blessing in disguise because I got traded to Milwaukee. Who would have told you that, getting traded to Milwaukee was a blessing in disguise? Got there, basically rededicated myself at getting back to being the player I was. Got to the playoffs and now I'm traded here. I think I've been playing some of my best basketball I've had since the Phoenix days. If I had to do it all over again I would. I just wish I would have been healthy and able to contribute more."

Doc Rivers surely agrees with that final statement.

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Though not a big man, first round pick Troy Brown fills several needs for Wizards

Though not a big man, first round pick Troy Brown fills several needs for Wizards

The Wizards' selection of Troy Brown of the University of Oregon with their first round pick has been met with a strong reaction among fans, many of whom argue he doesn't play a position of need, that it was a luxury pick when other areas could have been addressed, most notably in their frontcourt. Big man Robert Williams of Texas A&M, for example, was still on the board. 

The Wizards, though, did address needs by picking Brown. And really, they arguably filled more pressing needs in the short-term than those at power forward and center.

Though the Wizards clearly need some help at big man in the long-term, as both of their starting bigs are on expiring deals, they need help immediately at both shooting guard and small forward. Brown, though he is only 18 years old and offers no guarantees to contribute right away, can play both of those positions.

Shooting guard is where he can help the most. The Wizards have one backup shooting guard in Jodie Meeks and he is due to miss the first 19 games of the 2018-19 season while serving a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

Even when Meeks was available this past season, he only helped so much. He shot just 39.9 percent from the field and 34.3 percent from three. Head coach Scott Brooks often chose to rely more on starter Bradley Beal than go to Meeks as his replacement. As a result, Beal logged the fourth-most minutes of any player in the NBA.

More depth at shooting guard will help relieve Beal of some of that workload. That would be great for keeping him fresh throughout the season and help him be at his best when they need him most in the playoffs.

The Wizards also have some urgency at small forward. It is their strongest position in terms of one-two on the depth chart, but they have no logical third option. That was magnified in the playoffs once Otto Porter got injured. They were left with Kelly Oubre, Jr. and had to trot out Tomas Satoransky, who has limited experience at the position.

Brown can play both shooting guard and small forward, giving them much needed depth. If he can play well enough to earn a rotation spot, the emergency situations the Wizards encountered last season could be avoided in 2018-19.

The Wizards still need to find long-term solutions at power forward and center, but they were going to need to find answers at shooting guard and small forward as well. Both Meeks and Oubre have one year left on their deals. Brown helps solidify the long-term outlook at wing.

Now, there's no denying the Wizards already had considerable talent at both shooting guard and small forward with Beal, Porter and Oubre. That begs the question of how much Brown can offer particularly in the first year of his career. But the Wizards would like to play more positionless basketball and to do that requires depth at wing.

The Boston Celtics have helped make positionless basketball famous and their roster shows that the one player-type you can't have enough of is similar to Brown. Boston has Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Morris. All are around 6-foot-7 or 6-foot-8 and offer versatility on both ends of the floor.

The Wizards also now have four players of that size and with positional versatility in Brown, Porter, Oubre and Satoransky. They can roll out different combinations of those guys and possibly have an advantage on defense with the ability to switch seamlessly on screens.

In the age of positionless basketball, players of Brown's ilk have become major assets especially for teams that have many of them. There is such a thing as having too many point guards or centers because they can't coexist on the floor. Versatile wings, in most scenarios, can play together in numbers.

It's different but in a way similar to certain positions in other sports. In baseball, you can have too many catchers but you can't have too many talented pitchers and utility players. In football, you can have too many running backs or tight ends, but you can't have too many defensive linemen. 

Brown gives them options from a roster perspective in the long-term. Oubre has one year left on his contract and if he continues his trejectory with a strong 2018-19 season, he could price himself out of Washington. Brown could move up the depth chart as his replacement one year from now. The Wizards also now have the option to consider trades at the position given their depth.

The problem, one could argue, with drafting Brown over a Williams-type is that it limits their options at center in particular. Drafting Williams would have made it easier to trade Marcin Gortat, for instance, because they would have had depth to deal from. Now, it's more difficult to trade Gortat, whom they have shopped on and off for months, without a plan to replace him. Finding a Gortat substitute in free agency with the limited resource they have would not be easy.

But big man wasn't their only need and in Brown the Wizards may have found a solution at other areas where they clearly needed help.


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Wizards' second round pick Issuf Sanon will take time, much like Tomas Satoransky did


Wizards' second round pick Issuf Sanon will take time, much like Tomas Satoransky did

The first round of the NBA Draft played out expectedly for what the Wizards had planned for the night. In Troy Brown, they clearly got the guy they wanted all along, seeing as there were many interesting prospects they passed on to choose him.

The second round was a bit more chaotic. Team president Ernie Grunfeld said there were a few players picked just ahead of them at No. 44 that they had their eyes on. They contemplated trading up, but no perfect deals were presented.

So, they decided to think long-term, like really long-term. In choosing Ukrainian point guard Issuf Sanon, the Wizards understand it may be years before he plays in the NBA.

"We hope to have him developed in a few years," Grunfeld said.

Sanon, just 18, plays for Olimpija Ljubljana in Slovenia. He may stay in Europe into his 20s before he comes to the United States.

The Wizards have utilized the draft-and-stash model with other players. Their 2015 second round pick, Aaron White, has been playing in Europe for the past three seasons.

Sometimes those players never convey and contribute for the Wizards. But sometimes they do and Grunfeld pointed to a player already on their roster as a model to consider.

"We drafted Tomas [Satoransky] at an earlier age, he went overseas [and] he played at the highest level and it got him ready for the NBA," Grunfeld said.

The difference between now and then is that the Wizards have a G-League franchise starting this fall, the Capital City Go-Go. Because of that, it seemed more likely going into the draft that the Wizards would use the second round pick on a guy who can play there right away. 

Grunfeld, however, opted for roster flexibility. By keeping Sanon in Europe, the Wizards can have another open roster spot. They could either fill that spot, or leave spots on the end of their roster open as they did for much of last season.

"We want to preserve a roster spot, so just because you draft someone in your second round, if you sign him, he still has a roster spot even if you let him play for the GoGo," Grunfeld said.

Sanon may have a bright future. He is a 6-foot-4 point guard with impressive athleticism who doesn't turn 19 until October. He said he models his game after Russell Westbrook, as a guard who can score the ball. More will be known about him once he plays for their summer league team in July.

The Wizards passed on several interesting prospects to pick Sanon. Still on the board were Keita Bates-Diop of Ohio State, Hamidou Diallo of Kentucky and Svi Mykhailiuk of Kansas, three players they brought in for pre-draft workouts. But instead, they went with a long-term investment, hoping they found the next Satoransky.


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