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Fans expect big things from Wizards

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Fans expect big things from Wizards

A crowd estimated at 2,100 filed into the Patriot Center at George Mason University Tuesday night, lured by games of roulette, the Wizards dance team and a free performance by rapper Wale.

In between, rookie Bradley Beal and the Wizards took part in their final scrimmage game at GMU, their training camp home for the past eight days.

The Wizards are hoping the arrival of Beal, taken third overall in the 2012 NBA draft, will help cultivate new fans and turn last years skeptics into this years believers.

We believe in RG3 and we believe in Bradley, said Darnell Roberts, 16, of Herndon, who attended Tuesday nights event with three of his friends. With him and John Wall we can build a team around them.

The Wizards finished with the second-worst record in the NBA last season 20-46 and are hoping the arrivals of Beal, Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza, Martell Webster and A.J. Price will lift them into playoff contention.

I think it is a playoff team, but I dont think they know that yet, said Robert Crews, 17, of D.C. They need to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

The Wizards first home preseason game is slated for Thursday night at the Verizon Center and Marcos Lopez, 18, of Arlington, said hes hoping the building has a better feeling than it did last year.

Last year was so negative, Lopez said. Every time Andray Blatche stepped on the court they booed him. Thats got to change.

Wizards guard Janerro Pargo agrees, saying its important the Wizards start learning how to win games, even preseason games.

I think its important to play every game you play, Pargo said.

Crews said hes hoping the infusion of Beal into an offense featuring John Wall could make that difference, but still believes the Wizards lack something.

What we need is a superstar, Crews said. A superstar thats going to last. The Lakers got Kobe Bryant, the Heats got Lebron James and Dwayne Wade. I think we need a superstar. If Bradley Beal can step up well be all right. But we need a leader. Maybe Okafor will be that for us.

Meshailay Thomas, 35, of Woodbridge, brought her three daughters Jorden, 12, Kair, 6, and Laila, 5 -- to Tuesday nights event just to give them the opportunity to see the Wizards up close and have some fun with team mascot G-Wiz.

I think this is a great event, she said. My husband, Karl, is a big Wizards fan, so Ill be getting him some tickets this season. I think itll be a good one. Well see.

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NBA, NBAPA agree to move up start of free agency by six hours

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NBA, NBAPA agree to move up start of free agency by six hours

The Woj bombs are gonna start dropping a little earlier this year. 

The NBA and the NBA Players Association announced Friday that the two parties have agreed to move up the start of free agency by six hours. Teams can now begin negotiating with free agents at 6 p.m. ET on June 30 instead of having to wait until 12:01 ET on July 1. 

The move ensures fans -- and eternally grateful media members -- don't have to stay up until midnight waiting for the madness that is NBA free agency to begin. As Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports put it, this is "quite possibly the best thing to happen with NBA free agency in years!" 

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What to know about the Washington Mystics season opener

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What to know about the Washington Mystics season opener

The Mystics reached their first WNBA Finals in franchise history in 2018 but were swept by the Seattle Storm in the championship series.

Elle Delle Donne -- who was recently named in WNBA.com's GM survey as the favorite to win league MVP -- is back for her third season in Washington.

Though she is out for the opener, Delle Donne believes the team is ready to make another run at the title thanks to the return of All-Star forward Emma Meesseman. 

Earlier Friday, the Mystics announced their final 12-woman roster for the 2019 season. Delle Donne and guard Kristi Toliver headline a team that includes nine returners from the 2018 team, as well as Meesseman, who played for the Mystics from 2013-17 but sat out in 2018 to focus on playing for the Belgian national team. The final roster spots went to WNBA rookies Kiara Leslie and Kim Mestdagh.

According to ESPN, the Mystics, Los Angeles Sparks and Las Vegas Aces are the favorites to win the championship this season.

The WNBA's 23rd season kicks of Friday night at 7:30 p.m. ET when the Atlanta Dream host the Dallas Wings.

MYSTICS VS. SUN HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Mystics vs. Connecticut Sun, Regular Season Game 1

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

Live Stream: You can live stream on WNBA's League Pass website by signing up for a free trial

NBC Sports Washington will be broadcasting 10 Mystics home games during the 2019 WNBA season. For the full regular season schedule, click here.

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