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Examining the Wizards roster entering crucial summer of 2016


Examining the Wizards roster entering crucial summer of 2016

Stop me if you heard this before, but the Wizards are focusing on the summer of 2016 as they ponder and makes moves ahead of the 2015-16 season. Washington added three veterans this offseason and re-signed Drew Gooden. All four have contracts expiring after this season. That's no coincidence. This is by design to ensure enough salary cap space remains for Kevin Durant or perhaps other notable free agents.

Again, this isn't breaking news, but rather a reminder. Here's a visual of the current roster and what it would look like following the 15-16 season (contract information from spotrac.com).


Power forward - Nene, Kris Humphries, Drew Gooden

Small forward - Otto Porter, Jared Dudley, Martell Webster, Kelly Oubre Jr.

Center - Marcin Gortat, DeJuan Blair

Wing guard - Bradley Beal, Alan Anderson, Gary Neal

Point guard - John Wall, Ramon Sessions, Garrett Temple

Now here's what the team looks like entering the summer of 2016

Power forward - None

Small forward - Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre Jr.

Center - Marcin Gortat 

Wing guard - Bradley Beal 

Point guard - John Wall

• This remaining group reminds me of Filet Mignon: Not the biggest piece of steak (i.e. total depth, especially inside), but what's there is awfully tasty, especially if the four perimeter players progress as hoped. Add a healthy Durant and we're talking a divine feast, or in NBA teams, title contender. 

• Beal is eligible for an extension this summer. If the two sides don't agree on a deal, he would become a restricted free agent next summer. Either way, expect Beal in a Wizards jersey next season (and likely many more to come). 

• The organization holds team options for Porter, Humphries, Gooden, Webster and Blair. Retaining Porter, the No. 3 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, is an obvious no-brainer. Of the other four, only Humphries ($4.6 million) seems like a realistic bet to have his picked up. Never count out Gooden from ultimately sticking around, though he'll be 35 starting the 16-17 season. 

(Worth nothing that initial reports in 2014 had the Wizards agreeing to a three-year contract with Humphries with the third year a team option. Spotrac and other NBA salary sites show his 2016-17 salary as guaranteed.)

• Nene, Dudley, Anderson, Neal, Sessions and Temple would all enter free agency. Any or all could return depending on what transpires this upcoming season. Of this group, the versatile Dudley would seemingly be the most attractive piece.

• Not counted in this summary: Tomas Satoransky and Aaron White. Satoransky, a 6-foot-7 point guard selected early in the second round of the 2012 Draft, has remained overseas for the early part of his professional career. If minutes or a specific role played a major factor in his decision, such concerns would be eliminated in this scenario. Satoransky could slot into the third guard role behind Wall and Beal. White, Washington's 2015 second round selection, is expected to the spend the 2015-16 campaign overseas. Considering the bodies under contract, the 6-foot-8 forward will certainly have the opportunity to make the team with improvement.  

Obviously, the main prize next summer is Durant. Even if the Oklahoma City Thunder star and D.C. area native passes on playing for his hometown team, Washington can offer others big money, a large role and the opportunity to play with a pass-first point guard in Wall and presumably a knockdown shooter like Beal. All of that combined should put the Wizards in a strong position to attract talent. In the crazy world of NBA free agency, that's the important first step. 

MORE WIZARDS: Kevin Durant played softball Sunday with a Redskin and other DMV sports figures

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Three things to watch for Wizards vs. Blazers, as John Wall and Damian Lillard square off

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Three things to watch for Wizards vs. Blazers, as John Wall and Damian Lillard square off

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Dwight Howard and the Washington Wizards take on Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic and the Portland Trail Blazers. Tipoff is at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. 

Here are three things to watch...

Schedule heats up

The Wizards really needed that one on Friday night. Though the Nets, even without Caris LeVert, aren't an easy out, the Wizards wanted to fully take advantage of a soft spot of their schedule. It's tough to lose to the Nets when you consider the road ahead.

The Wizards play seven straight games against teams at .500 or better. That includes a road game against the Raptors, who are tied for the league's best record. They also see the Rockets, the Pelicans twice and play at the Sixers. It all begins Sunday against the Blazers, who are tied for the fourth-best record in the NBA.


Most of the Wizards' games this season have been lopsided one way or the other, and usually in the direction they would not prefer. But they have played a few close games and their most entertaining one happened to come against this same Blazers team.

The Wizards and Blazers went to overtime on Oct. 22 in Portland. The Wizards forced the extra period thanks to a three by Bradley Beal, and they won thanks to Otto Porter Jr. blocking Damian Lillard's shot in the closing seconds. 

The Wizards and Blazers have played some classics in recent years. Markieff Morris beat them with a game-winning three two years ago and last season Beal dropped 50 at the Moda Center. The matchup between both teams' star guards seems to bring the best out in everyone.

Howard vs. Nurkic

Much of the focus in this matchup is always on John Wall and Beal vs. Lillard and C.J. McCollum, but there will be a lot of action in the paint with Dwight Howard going up against Jusuf Nurkic. The Blazers are one of the best rebounding teams in the game and Nurkic, who pulls in 10.7 per game, is a big reason why. Nurkic also averages 15.5 points.

Howard is coming off his best game as a Wizard. He had 25 points and 17 rebounds against the Nets on Friday night. He was hurt when the teams first met in Portland.

Both are bruisers around the rim who don't stretch the floor with outside shots. It should be a physical battle on Sunday night.

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Former Wizard Jared Dudley: Time for a Wizards shake-up

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Former Wizard Jared Dudley: Time for a Wizards shake-up

Jared Dudley spent one season with the Washington Wizards. The core pieces on the current roster were there during that 2015-16 campaign. Based on that prior experience and a first-hand look Friday night, the Brooklyn Nets forward offered a candid assessment of the 5-10 squad. 

"I’m seeing a team that has been together too long,” Dudley told NBC Sports Washington following the Wizards’ 115-104 home loss. “They haven’t made progress, so it’s time to change things over there.”

John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter were teammates of Dudley for a full season. Markieff Morris joined the roster at the 2016 trade deadline. Washington failed to make the playoffs that season, but qualified in each of the next two and has reached the postseason in four of the five last years. 

The Wizards did not advance beyond the second round during any of those postseason appearances and lost in the first round last season after a 43-39 regular season. Following a 2-9 start, Washington won three in a row before falling to a scrappy Nets team that lost leading scorer Caris Levert earlier in the week to a gruesome ankle injury.

Dudley started and played 22 minutes in Brooklyn's win. The 12-year veteran's opinion on Washington included suggestions like extended use of a small-ball lineup. 

“I think (they have) good players, but sometimes, good players need different situations. For them, I think that it’s tough the way the league is changing. They play two bigs,” Dudley said about the combination of power forward Markieff Morris and center Dwight Howard. “In this day in age, Otto needs to play more four because he’s tall enough, more spacing.”

Facing a Brooklyn defense that leads the league in opponent mid-range shots, Washington often settled for such looks. The Wizards attempted a season-low 18 three-point attempts. 

The NBA rumor mill continually attempts to plot a new course for the Wizards. New York Times NBA insider Marc Stein reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves tried to “engage” Washington in trade talks for Jimmy Butler before shipping the All-Star guard to Philadelphia. “But the Wizards have kept Beal off limits amid their 4-9 start,” Stein reported earlier this week. “They would naturally prefer to trade the struggling Otto Porter, or perhaps even John Wall, but both possess hard-to-move contracts.”

Dudley sees the logic of moving at least one of those three players.

“I think they’ve had enough time, but they really haven’t (broken) through,” Dudley said. “I can see by the All-Star break or summer time one of these pieces moving. It’s going to be good for them. If it’s John, or Otto or Brad, one of them three, I think their next move is going to be good for both teams."