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Gortat could get rematch with Sixers rookie Okafor on Friday

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Gortat could get rematch with Sixers rookie Okafor on Friday

The Wizards beat the 76ers 129-95 in their first preseason game of year. Rookie big man Jahlil Okafor was one of the only bright spots for Philadelphia, a fact not lost on Wizards center Marcin Gortat.

Okafor shot 6 of 10 from the floor -- hitting his first four attempts -- for 12 points while being guarded by the Polish Machine. He also finished with two rebounds, two blocks and a steal. 

After the game, Gortat didn't go easy on the rookie. 

"I think he's a talented kid," Gortat said. "I see a little version of Al Jefferson. Slow, but strong methodical big man with a ready, pretty nice game in the post. He hit a couple of tough shots."

"One thing is [for] sure: He's on my list right now. The next four games I'm coming, I'm coming. I hope he's going to read that. I'm coming. I'm coming for him."

Word didn't take long to get back to Okafor, who gave a bemused, even flattered response. 

“Honestly, I thought it was funny, also like a sign of respect,” Okafor told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “This is a guy that has been in the league for a while. I’m a 19-year-old, who is out here trying to make his way into the NBA, trying to make my presence felt.

“For him to say I’m on his list, thanks. I’m not afraid or anything like that. It’s a sign of respect, kind of a good feeling.”

Since performing admirably against Gortat, Okafor hasn't found as much success. He went 4 for 12 from the floor against the Cavaliers in preseason, then 1 for 6 against the Nets. A bout of knee soreness caused him to miss the Sixers' loss to the Knicks Monday as well as practice Tuesday. 

The rookie insists he's not injured, but John Finger of CSNPhilly.com reports that he'll be under a minutes restriction if he plays at all on Friday against the Wizards. 

Gortat had better hope Okafor's knee is 100 percent by Friday, otherwise these two bigs won't meet again until February 5, 2016. 

Update: No such luck for this rematch.

MORE WIZARDS: Wittman says Wizards will err on side of caution with Jared Dudley

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

The 2018 NBA offseason in just three weeks has become one of the wildest summers in the league's history between LeBron James signing with the Lakers, and all the characters that followed him, to DeMarcus Cousins surprising everyone to sign with the Golden State Warriors, to Kawhi Leonard getting traded to the Raptors.

As crazy as it all has been, two teams in the Eastern Conference stand out for so far doing very little, either by choice or circumstance. The Celtics and Sixers, the two teams most see as the favorites in the East, appear at least so far to be running it back with the same group of players.

This appears to be the Celtics' intention. After overhauling their roster last summer, they clearly see an opportunity to take a step forward as-is. Boston was one win away from the NBA Finals and will return Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving from injury. With James gone to the West, they can improve significanly just by keeping it all together.

Boston re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes. Their biggest addition this summer so far has been their first round pick, Robert Williams.

The Sixers, unlike the Celtics, didn't appear to plan on doing it this way. They wanted James and missed out. They reportedly had interest in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, but both went elsewhere. There are no stars left to sign in free agency and the trade market may be drying up.

Philly made some minor moves like trades for Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala. They may also have a deal for Kyle Korver in the works. They also had two first round picks in Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet.

There's a chance the Sixers got better than people think, as many of the moves they made seem smart. But they didn't reel in a big fish and will probably come back for the 2018-19 season with a team very similar to the one that made the second round of the playoffs this spring.

The fact the Celtics and Sixers may stand pat is probably a good thing for the rest of the East. Both teams may improve naturally if they are healthier and if their young players continue to ascend. But neither made a game-changing addition, one that would solidify either as an unstoppable superteam in the conference. 

The West is overloaded with title contenders and All-NBA players. The East, meanwhile, is much more open and it may end up staying that way mainly because Boston and Philly have been quiet so far this summer.

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Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld has stayed relatively busy this summer crafting his new-look lineup for the 2018-19 season. 

One of the team's key additions, Dwight Howard, is set to be introduced as a member of the Wizards on Monday. 

NBC Sports Washington will air the introductory press conference live at 1 p.m. while also streaming it online.  

Ernie Grunfeld and head coach Scott Brooks are both expected to be in attendance. 

The 32-year-old big man is coming off a 2017-18 season with the Charlotte Hornets in which he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. 

Since leaving the Orlando Magic after eight seasons in 2011, Howard has played for four different teams in the last six years. 

Howard is an eight-time all-star and a three-time defensive player of the year. 

 

RELATED LINKS: 

John Wall's take on Dwight Howard 

Wizards make Dwight Howard free agent signing official 

By the numbers: Is new Wizards center Dwight Howard still in his NBA prime?