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Exit strategy for Blatche?

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Exit strategy for Blatche?

There's absolutely no question that Andray Blatche has played his last game for the Wizards. What is still to be determined, though, is on what terms will Blatche go out?

Wizards management has until July 17 to decide the veteran forwards fate, but their options are very limited when it comes to parting ways with the 26-year old. The Wizards really have only three possible solutions with Blatche. They can trade, amnesty or actually keep Blatche, but deactivate him and tell him to stay away when training camp starts.

The most obvious move for the Wizards is to amnesty Blatche and eat the final three years and roughly 24 million on his remaining contract. It would be an expensive move, but for the development and growth of this young team that has playoff aspirations for next season, it's well worth it to let Blatche go via the amnesty clause.

Could the Wizards actually be able to trade the 6'-11" power forward this summer? That's the faint hope the Wizards are holding out for, but that's a long shot at best because Blatche's stock has never been lower after a disappointing season in which he missed more than 20 games because he was too out of shape and averaged only 8 points a game.

Blatche, who has struggled his entire career with his weight, was basically deactivated for his lack of conditioning for the final one-third of last season. It was another issue to add to the laundry list of problems that Blatche has had on and off the court in his eight-year career.

Blatche has been plagued by over promising and underproducing on the court, particularly his last two seasons in Washington. The Wizards know that if they want to turn the corner and stop being lottery bound, they can't have him on the team. The Wizards realize they are much better off not having Blatche on the roster. They just have to figure out how to make that happen and it has to be sooner rather than later.

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James Harden, Rockets offer ultimate test for Trevor Ariza, Wizards' three-point defense

James Harden, Rockets offer ultimate test for Trevor Ariza, Wizards' three-point defense

Much of the reasoning for why the Wizards traded for veteran forward Trevor Ariza this past weekend was to plug the holes in their three-point defense. After 31 games this season, Washington ranks 26th among NBA teams in three-pointers allowed per game and 27th in opponents three-point percentage.

On Wednesday, the Wizards will receive the ultimate test for their revamped perimeter defense in the Houston Rockets. Tip-off is at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

The Rockets are not simply a good three-point shooting team in the context of this era, they rival some of the best outside shooting teams of all-time. Their 14 threes made per game are top in the NBA and are tied for the third-most in league history. 

The top two teams ever in made threes were also the Rockets. They set the all-time record in 2016-17 with 14.4, then beat their own mark last season with 15.3 threes per game.

It's a similar story for threes attempted. Houston leads the league with 41.1 three-point shots per game. That would rank second all-time behind only last season's Rockets (42.3/g) and ahead of the third-most ever (40.3) set by Houston the year before.

The difference this season has been their percentage. After ranking 13th in the NBA last year at 36.2 percent, this time they are shooting just 33.9 percent, good for 24th. Still, no team takes or makes more threes, and the Wizards will be charged with stopping them.

The Wizards know the Rockets' three-point shooting prowess well. Houston has made at least 12 threes in the last seven meetings between the teams. Four times in that span, they have hit 15 threes or more. No team has done that more often against the Wizards since the start of the 2015-16 season. Considering they play each other only twice a year as members of different conferences, that is telling.

Ariza is also familiar with what the Rockets are capable of. After leaving Washington in free agency in the summer of 2014, he signed with Houston and spent four seasons there before joining the Suns this past summer. He was a key cog in the Rockets' 65-win team last season, as they fell one win short of the NBA Finals.

The Wizards and Rockets also saw each other less than a month ago in Washington. The Wizards pulled off a 135-131 victory in overtime, one of their best wins of the season, even with Houston off to a disappointing start. 

Chris Paul didn't play in that game, but James Harden dropped 54 points and Eric Gordon and Clint Capela were a handful. John Wall had 36 points and 11 assists and Bradley Beal put in 32 points, as well as some timely defense down the stretch on Harden. He helped force several of Harden's 11 turnovers.

Now comes the rematch, this time with the Rockets fresh off four straight wins and with Paul set to play. It won't be easy beating Houston twice in one season, something they haven't done as a franchise since 1988-89. Perhaps Ariza can help make the difference.

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Dwight Howard shares his first health update since back surgery

Dwight Howard shares his first health update since back surgery

Three weeks removed from back surgery to take care of his nagging gluteal injury, Dwight Howard rejoined the Washington Wizards for their Tuesday night contest with the Atlanta Hawks inside State Farm Arena. 

"Physically, I'm a lot better than I was before the surgery," Howard told NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller. "The nine games I played, I basically played on one leg. So, you know, I'm just happy that that's out the way and I can rehab and get ready for the second half of the season."

During those nine games, the 33-year-old averaged 12.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, while shooting over 62% from the floor. 

Howard is no stranger to back surgery. In 2012, the then Orlando Magic center underwent a procedure to repair a herniated disk which ended his season and took him out of Summer Olympics (London) participation. 

The veteran now deals with a slow recovery process before returning to basketball activities. 

Right now, the only I can do for rehab is just walk. Anybody who has had back surgery, they understand that. You know, for the first month and a half, you can't lift weights. You can't run. You can't do anything but basically walk. 

Howard plans to remain in Atlanta for rehab. Three weeks ago, Washington said it would re-evaluate Howard after two or three months. 

"Every day I try to sit down, and you know, spend at least an hour visualizing, you know, getting healthy, but also returning to the court."

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