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Durant objects to media coverage of Bryant, LeBron disagrees

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Durant objects to media coverage of Bryant, LeBron disagrees

Kevin Durant made headlines with a pointed critique of the way the NBA media has covered Kobe Bryant lately. The Lakers legend announced Sunday that he would retire after this season. 

Speaking to reporters at shootaround in Atlanta Monday, Durant explained that he "did idolize" Bryant growing up. 

"I've been disappointed this year because you [media members] treated him like s---. He's a legend, and all I hear is about how bad he's playing, how bad he's shooting and it's time for him to hang it up," Durant said. "So hopefully now you can start being nice to him now that he decided to retire after this year."

He went on to say that he's "sensitive" about the NBA and how it's players are depicted, especially if he considers coverage to be undermining of the game.

"I understand not playing well and stuff; that's a part of it. But you can't treat Kobe like he's D'Angelo Russell when it comes to his coverage. Be a little more respectful to what he's brought to the game."

Durant also suggested personal grudges could play into negative commentary about Bryant. "These media people take it too personal, and when he doesn't play well, it's their turn to kill him because they might not have liked what he said or did."

His position generated some backlash on social media, but the masses weren't the only ones to see the situation differently. 

LeBron James was polite, but firm in disagreeing with Durant. "I don't really get involved in that side of things, but I don't see it that way," James said Tuesday as he prepared to face the Wizards. 

"I think [Bryant is] perceived as one of the most fierce competitors, a five-time champion, a two-time Finals MVP, 17 All-Star appearances. I think the media has done a great job of building Kobe as who he is today," James said. 

"There's no reason for me to say that the media has made him look a certain way throughout his career," James continued. "He's done unbelievable things and part of the reason why he's big as he is because obviously the work he's put into it, but also the coverage that we all get from you guys."

Durant clarified his original comments to ESPN.com on Tuesday, but didn't back off of his position. 

"I understand [the media] have to write about the game. Of course I understand that. Kobe hasn't played well, and his team hasn't played well, but did we expect that from them?," he asked. "It seems like everybody is happy that he's going out like this. Every game he's played on TV is about how terrible he looks, every article the next day is about how he should retire and give it up. Just killing him. I never hear about the Finals MVPs, the accolades."

Durant then contrasted Bryant's treatment with the celebratory send-offs other superstar athletes have and will receive. 

"[The media] did it for [New York Yankees great] Derek Jeter, they will do it for Tim Duncan when he leaves, even if he's playing bad. I know you gotta report the games, but you're going too in-depth about how bad [Bryant] is. You're almost kicking him out the league."

The back and forth about Bryant's legacy comes at an interesting time for the Wizards, who are scheduled to play James and the Cavaliers at 7 p.m. Tuesday night in Cleveland. They'll host Bryant and the Lakers Wednesday night at Verizon Center. 

While Durant and James discussed the media's role in Bryant's legacy, Wizards guard John Wall said he'd remember Bryant for the experience of playing against him. 

"My most memorable moment is when I blocked his shot and he told me get back on defense and he scored on me the next play," Wall said. "He’s one hell of a player. This league will never see nobody else like Kobe Bryant again. People were wondering where the torch was going after Michael Jordan. He’s never going to quit."

MORE WIZARDS: Wall: 'You’ll probably never see another Kobe Bryant'

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Wizards working out Kentucky's Hamidou Diallo another sign the two sides m

Wizards working out Kentucky's Hamidou Diallo another sign the two sides m

The University of Kentucky was well-represented at the Wizards' first pre-draft workout on Tuesday at Capital One Arena, as All-Star point guard John Wall sat courtside to watch a young player who could join him next season in Washington.

The Wizards hosted Kentucky guard Hamidou Diallo just days after interviewing him at the NBA Combine in Chicago, Ill., another sign the 19-year-old is a legitimate option for their second round pick, set for 44th overall in next month's draft.

Diallo, who is originally from Queens, NY., said he is friends with Wall, as the two have crossed paths due to the Kentucky connection. 

"I feel like he knows what I'm capable of," Diallo said.

He now hopes the Wizards front office understands what he can do. Diallo is a defensive-minded wing who measured 6-foot-6 (with shoes) at the combine and with a 7-foot wingspan. He had the fifth-best max vertical leap at the combine, coming in at 40.5 inches. He was also the 12th-ranked player in the class of 2017 out of high school.

The measurables and pedigree are impressive, but Diallo's potential has yet to be realized. He didn't play a game despite attending Kentucky in the 2016-17 academic year. He tested the NBA Draft waters last summer before returning to Kentucky to average a modest 10.0 points and 3.6 rebounds.

Diallo has already worked out for the Chicago Bulls and will meet with plenty more teams, but is currently projected by most mock drafts to be a second round pick. This time he hired an agent and will definitely be making the leap.

"It feels good this year going through it with both feet in. It's been a great process," he said.

The Wizards like Diallo's defensive ability, his speed and awareness in the open floor and his potential to improve as a shooter. Diallo shot 33.8 percent from three on 2.1 attempts per game in the 2017-18 season.

"I hope to show my athleticism and how that plays a big part on the defensive end," Diallo said of his goals in pre-draft workouts.

"[The Wizards] are a team that wants to play fast and they have a fast point guard that needs players to keep up with him. That's what I tried to show in this workout, to show how fast I can play and show how composed I can play."

If the Wizards deem Diallo worth taking a chance on, he would provide a nice fit positionally. Though their second round pick could spend much of next season in the G-League, Diallo plays shooting guard and they have a need behind starter Bradley Beal. 

The Wizards see Tomas Satoransky as a possibility at backup shooting guard and Jodie Meeks is expected to return next season on a player option. But those guys were on the roster in 2017-18 and couldn't fill the void behind Beal, who logged more minutes than all but three players in the league.

Diallo played at a big-time program and has the athleticism to compete at the NBA level early on. He could help a team improve long-term at guarding the perimeter, an area the Wizards have made strides in but still have a ways to go. That was seen in their playoff series against the Raptors when Toronto averaged 11.0 threes made per game and shot 41 percent.

Though it's early in the draft workout process, the Wizards have made it clear they are interested in Diallo.

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Wizards' second pre-draft workout to feature possible first-round pick, NCAA star

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Wizards' second pre-draft workout to feature possible first-round pick, NCAA star

The Wizards will have some recognizable names at their second pre-draft workout on Wednesday including potential first round pick Aaron Holiday of UCLA, NBC Sports Washington has learned.

Here is the list with some notes on each player...

Aaron Holiday, guard, UCLA (6-1, 185)

The brother of two NBA players (Jrue and Justin), Holiday played three years at UCLA and averaged 20.3 points, 5.8 assists and 1.3 steals as a junior. He also shot 42.9 percent from three on 6.2 attempts per game. He registered a 6-8 wingspan at the NBA Combine.

Potential fit with Wizards: possible first round pick, likely won't be there in second round; would solidify backup point guard position

Devonte' Graham, guard, Kansas (6-2, 175)

The Big 12 player of the year, Graham averaged 17.3 points and 7.2 assists as a senior. He posted a 6-6 wingspan at the combine. His uncle played for the Cincinnati Reds in the 1990s.

Potential fit with Wizards: second round pick; would provide backup point guard depth

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, forward, Kansas (6-8, 195)

A big-time three-point shooter, Mykhailiuk shot 44.4 percent from three on 6.6 attempts per game as a senior. He averaged 14.6 points and 3.9 rebounds.

Potential fit with Wizards: second round pick; could be a three-point threat off the bench

Moritz Wagner, center, Michigan (6-11, 241)

Originally from Germany, Wagner was a standout in the NCAA Tournament as the Wolverines went all the way to the final. He averaged 14.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.0 steals as a junior. He also shot 39.4 percent from three and measured at nearly 7-feet in shoes at the NBA Combine.

Potential fit with Wizards: second round pick; could develop into a capable stretch-five

Johnathan Williams, forward, Gonzaga (6-9, 225)

Williams began his career at Missouri before transferring. He averaged 13.4 points and 8.5 rebounds as a senior. 

Potential fit with Wizards: undrafted free agent; possible G-League forward

Zach Thomas, SF, Bucknell (6-7, 228)

Thomas was the Patriot League player of the year with averages of 20.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game as a senior. He shot 40 percent from three for his college career.

Potential fit with Wizards: undrafted free agent; possible G-League forward

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