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Dudley talks surgery, passing on free agency


Dudley talks surgery, passing on free agency

Jared Dudley spoke Thursday about his back surgery for a herniated disc, why he passed on free agency and his interest in the Wizards during an interview on ESPN's The Lowe Post podcast. 

Washington acquired the versatile forward in a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks earlier this month. The Wizards envision Dudley helping out to replace Paul Pierce and serve as a stretch-4 type forward. The team announced this week that he would miss 3-4 months following the surgery.

The highlights from Dudley's conversation with Zach Lowe:

  • Dudley said he initially suffered the injury in "late January, but played throughout it." Cortizone shots throughout the season helped manage the pain as the Bucks battled for a playoff berth and seeding. He played in 72 regular season games and six during the postseason.
  • He began a rehab plan following the season before coming up with a plan for surgery. The decision to have surgery now was done in part to minimize how much time he would miss this coming season. "I'll be back right before the season. I might miss a couple of games here or there," Dudley said. "As you know, the basketball season is a long, long season. So, I'll be there when it counts." He noted the pain prior to surgery was not significant compared to others with the same issue.


  • Dudley surprised the NBA community when he opted into his $4.25 million option with the Bucks rather than exercise his early termination option and seek a multi-year contract in free agency. He waited until the final hours before the start of free agency before making his decision. "Hey, I'm not going to lie to you. I wanted to opt out," Dudey admitted. "The whole thing was to opt out. At the same time, you never want to opt-out you want to have a deal in place or at least have a backup plan. For me, I'm never going to be anyone's first or second choice. I'm your fourth, fifth, six option, Your glue guy. Everyone wants the sexy choice. Me and my agent, we went around to different places. We had people interested...But also, I was doing rehab on my back. I knew it was hurting. It improved. It improve so much, but I knew down the road I possibly could have surgery. I didn't know. For me, I didn't want to risk opting out, going (into free agency) and possibly not getting the deal I wanted." Dudley mentioned Cleveland's J.R. Smith as an example of the opt-out downside. Smith remain a free agent.
  • If he entered free agency, Dudley said the Wizards were among the teams he wanted to join along with possibly returning to the Phoenix Suns. The Bucks were not showing interest in retaining Dudley via free agency in part, as Dudley notes, because Milwaukee was preparing to make bigger splashes (they re-signed Khris Middleton and gave Greg Monroe a max contract) and have rising young talent at his spot. "They didn't see me for the long run," he said.

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Austin Rivers believes he can help the Wizards on defense as much as anything

Austin Rivers believes he can help the Wizards on defense as much as anything

When asked at his introductory press conference for how he will fit on the Wizards' roster from a basketball perspective, guard Austin Rivers didn't first cite his three-point shooting, his ability to affect games scoring off the bench or his speed to run the floor with John Wall and Bradley Beal. The first thing he point to was his defense.

That may have surprised some people out there as Rivers has long been known for his scoring ability and not so much his skills on the other end. It's not that he can't play defense, it's just that most of the highlights he's produced over the years have been due to his high-flying finishes at the rim and wicked pull-up jumper from three-point range.

Defense, though, is something Rivers takes pride in and he hopes to continue developing as a defender in Washington.

"With how much Brad and John have to do every night, for them to not have to always guard the best guard on the other team, that's something I can come in here and do. Try to bring that competitive spirit and be one of the defenders on the team," Rivers said.

Rivers' defensive ability has produced some controversy among Wizards fans and media members on social media. Some insist he does not bring value on that end of the floor, while some numbers suggest he does have some defensive potential.

Last season, Rivers averaged a career-high 1.2 steals per game. He was tied for fifth on the Clippers in defensive win shares.

However, his 113 defensive rating was his worst since 2013-14. It was an outlier on the Clippers and not in the good way. He also ranked nowhere near the top of the league in deflections or contested three-point shots, two hustle stats that guys like Wall and Beal fair well in.

Rivers points to two attributes that he believes make him a strong perimeter defender. One is his versatility and the other you could call scrappiness.

"On defense [the Wizards] can switch one through three or one through four. I think that gives us a lot of dangerous options," he said.

As for his scrappiness, Rivers says it comes from the early days of his career.

"I had to figure out ways to be effective without [a jumpshot] and that's how I became a defender. I guess everything happens for a reason, right? I'm happy I did have those early career struggles because it made me find a side of me that I didn't do [early on]. Because I promise you I didn't play any defense at Duke," he said.

The last line drew laughter from those gathered at his introductory press conference. Rivers insists that he now takes that end of the floor very seriously. The Wizards certainly hope he can back up his words.

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John Wall offers thoughts on Wizards' biggest offseason additions including Dwight Howard

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John Wall offers thoughts on Wizards' biggest offseason additions including Dwight Howard

At his final media availability of the 2017-18 season, John Wall highlighted specific types of players he wanted to see added to the Wizards roster this summer. Most notably, he pointed to an athletic big and bench scoring.

The Wizards ended up adding those things and more.

They signed Dwight Howard and Jeff Green to free agent deals, traded for Austin Rivers and drafted Troy Brown, Jr. in the first round. Howard is the athletic big and Rivers is the bench scorer Wall coveted.

Whether coincidental or not, Wall got his wish. And he's excited for the possibilities now that the Wizards appear to have shored up some weaknesses.

In his recent interview with Chris Miller on our Wizards Tipoff podcast, Wall offered thoughts on each key addition.

On Howard: "Even though he's older, he's still an athletic big and still has respect in this league. I mean, averaging [16.6 ppg and 12.5 rpg], he's a guy who can score in the low-post and block shots, a guy that gets a lot of rebounds and a guy that can catch lobs and do things that when teams switch against us or we're attacking the paint, if they help for a second then we're throwing lobs. Now, do you get more layups? Probably. Or, you get more wide open threes because guys are going to have to crack down on him. If you don't crack down on him, that's an automatic layup or a lob. I think that benefits us a lot. It's going to help. If you look at [Clint] Capela, DeAndre [Jordan] and those types of guys that are athletic, JaVale [McGee]. Even JaVale at times, being athletic and just getting to the paint. Guys are stepping up and you're throwing lobs to those guys. We have a person that can do that."

On Rivers: "I think it's going to be fun and interesting. Austin is someone who I've always watched since high school. He's a competitive guy. He definitely can score the ball. High volume shooter, once he gets it going, he's going. I think it just gives us that guy that we've never really had off the bench, that can create for himself and can create for his teammates at the two-guard position."

On Green: "Just being able to switch one through four, a guy that can post up if you put smaller guys on him. He can guard every position. He's athletic and can run the floor with us in transition. He does the little things that a lot of people don't notice."

On Brown: "He's very poised for his age. He doesn't try to force anything. The only thing I would tell him is just be more aggressive... and make mistakes. Try to make mistakes and improve your game to get better. It's going to be hard to find minutes and at practice at times with [Kelly Oubre, Jr.] and Otto [Porter, Jr.] and those guys being there."

Listen to Wall's full 1-on-1 interview on the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

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