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Explosive Rockets to provide Wizards intriguing test


Explosive Rockets to provide Wizards intriguing test

LAS VEGAS -- Much of the intrigue surrounding the Las Vegas Summer League comes from seeing the hyped rookies or reliving NBA and college days gone by with a cavalcade of the vagabond names from yesteryear. Then there are the individual matchups. Against Houston on Saturday (10 pm ET), all the Wizards top players face tests against a Rockets squad loaded with five recent first round picks plus rising star Chandler Parsons.Start in the backcourt where Bradley Beal, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, squares off against former Connecticut star Jeremy Lamb. Beal, who tallied 22 points against Atlanta in the Wizards summer league opener, already faced a fellow first rounder in John Jenkins. Whereas the former Vanderbilt product is largely a one-dimensional threat, the 6-foot-5 Lamb brings length, scoring versatility and like Beal, plenty of offensive subtlety.Many considered the silky smooth Lamb the top shooting guard in the months leading up to the draft. However, a combination of UConns lackluster season, questions about Lambs passion and the rise of Beal, Dion Waiters and Austin Rivers bumped him outside of the top 10. Depending on the lineup, Chris Singleton and Jan Vesely could face any number of NBAplayers or toutedincoming options. The Rockets small forward choices include the leaping Parsons and the physically gifted Terrence Jones, a member of Kentuckys national title winning squad. Singleton and Parsons, named to the NBA All-Rookie second team last season, both started at small forward when the Rockets visited the Verizon Center in January. Parsons went for 8 and 8 that night and scored 16 points on Friday. Singleton, whoscored six points in that meeting, scored 17 of his 20 points in the second half against Atlanta.The 6-foot-9 Jones scored 17 points in Houstons 93-81 win over Toronto on Friday.
Arguably, the Rockets top performer in the previous win was Lithuanian Donatas Motiejunas, who is making his way to the NBA after being selected in the first round last season. The 7-footer with range sank 11 of 13 shots include both tries from beyond the arc for a team-best 25 points.Royce White, the Rockets other 2012 first rounder, and former Kansas star Marcus Morris are also part of a truly deep roster that will send waves of talented bodies at Singleton and Vesely.Shelvin Mack and Tomas Satoransky dont exactly get off scot-free. Houstons point guard tandem consists of Courtney Fortson, who played sparingly for the Rockets last season, and Ionas Scott Machado, the NCAA leader in assists this past season.

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Raptors GM Masai Ujiri on staying in Toronto: 'In my mind, I'm here'

Raptors GM Masai Ujiri on staying in Toronto: 'In my mind, I'm here'

Just a few weeks ago, the Masai Ujiri-to-D.C. movement was gaining steam quickly. Just moments after Ujiri and the Toronto Raptors began celebrating their NBA Championship, reports began to swirl that the Wizards were prepared to aggressively pursue the GM.

Sources told NBC Sports Washington that there could be the possibility of a sort of mega-deal that went beyond just giving him control of the Wizards. But Wizards owner Ted  Leonsis denied earlier this month that the team had reached out, saying that "we have never planned in any way to ask for permission to speak to him during our process."

And on Tuesday, Uriji seemed to make it official that he will stay in Toronto.

"I love it here, my family loves it here. My wife loves it here, which is very important. My kids are Canadians. You want to win more, for me," Ujiri said on Tuesday during his end-of-season press conference.

"Yeah, I can continue to address teams wanting me and all those things. That's a blessing in life," Ujiri said. "For me the blessing is being wanted here and finding a place that makes you happy, and finding challenges that really make you grow as a person. This place has made me grow as a person."

"I identify with this place and I love it. So in my mind, I'm here."

On paper, Ujiri and the Wizards looked to be a good match. Washington could offer him money and control, while also allowing him to work with his "Basketball without Borders" program in D.C.

As NBC Sports' Tom Haberstroh explained recently, the Raptors late-season championship run could have messed up the timing and situation that could have lured Ujiri to a new team.

The Wizards made it through the NBA Draft without a new GM, but as July and free agency approach, the search may continue to ramp up.

The answer is still out there, it just may not be Masai Ujiri anymore.


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Bradley Beal on Wizards draftee Rui Hachimura: 'He's a monster'

Bradley Beal on Wizards draftee Rui Hachimura: 'He's a monster'

The Wizards added two pieces during the 2019 NBA Draft that franchise expects to be vital pieces of their future in Gonzaga's Rui Hachimura at No. 9 and Tennessee's Admiral Schofield at No. 42

Before Monday night's 2018-19 NBA Awards ceremony, NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller caught up with the two faces of the franchise, Bradley Beal and John Wall, to see what they thought of the new additions to the squad.

Beal had high praise for Hachimura.

"I didn't know much," Beal said on what he knew about the Gonzaga product prior to the draft. "But from what I've seen watching the draft and things I've seen pre-draft and things like that, he's a monster."

The praise did not stop there. 

"He plays hard, extremely hard," Beal said. "Hopefully, he can have an impact right away." 

While an immediate impact would be beneficial for a Wizards team that could use Hachimura's scoring (he averaged 19.7 points per game at Gonzaga), Beal understands that Hachimura is still a very raw player. After all, he's only been playing basketball for eight years.

"But at the same time, we want him to grow," Beal said on Hachimura. "We know he hasn't been playing too long. But that's something we can build off of and mold him into the player we need him to be. He has tremendous upside, and I'm excited to get going. Hopefully, come September, October he's ready to go."

While Beal may not have known too much about Hachimura, he had followed the other Wizards draft pick, Admiral Schofield, for quite some time. 

"I love his game; I loved him in college," Beal said on Schofield. 

Beal joked about Schofield's body type, wondering whether basketball is the sport the Wizards second-round pick should be playing.

"He's got a football body. He's built like a tight end, wide receiver," Beal said. "I'm definitely happy that we have him, a fellow SEC guy. Him and [Jordan] McRae are going to hit it off. He can shoot, he's athletic, so I'm definitely excited to have him as well."

While Wall did not go into as much detail as Beal about the Wizards draft class, he was just as excited about the two new additions.

"I think it's good," Wall said. "We added some pieces [in the draft], [we'll] see what we do in free agency to add some guys to bring back or we're going to go after somebody new. I think we'll be fine."

According to head coach Scott Brooks, both Beal and Wall can identify talent very well

"The thing I love about John and Brad: they love the game," Brooks said last week. "You can call them up, there could be high school players, WNBA players, it could be college players, it could be European players, they know them."

"It's like, 'don't you guys have a life?'" Brooks joked.

Wall spent most of his time with NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller discussing his Achilles rehab, where he revealed he is going to begin jogging soon. That's a good sign for the Wizards, even though Wall s expected to miss the majority of the 2019-2020 season.

In Hachimura and Schofield, the Wizards got two pieces that are not expected to contribute right away, but also potentially have the ability to do so. Earning high praise from the two most important players on the Wizards' roster is a good start for both of the Wizards 2019 NBA Draft selections.