Wizards

Quick Links

Gortat starts to take matchups with elite centers personal

usatsi_9010833.jpg

Gortat starts to take matchups with elite centers personal

The chip that Marcin Gortat is carrying on his shoulder keeps growing. After Wednesday's victory vs. the Memphis Grizzlies, when he bested Marc Gasol, the Wizards' center was honest about his inspired play of late.

“I’m fighting for my respect," Gortat said after holding Gasol to 11 points on just nine shots. "(Other centers) are getting a lot of credit for a lot of things that they do and I don’t. I’m just trying to prove myself everyday. That’s it.”

Gortat had 12 points, a game-high 12 rebounds and three assists. In a 113-99 rout of the Sacramento Kings, Gortat ran circles around DeMarcus Cousins for season highs of 27 points and 16 rebounds. Cousins shot just 8 of 22. He had 18 points and six rebounds in a 109-101 win vs. the Charlotte Hornets, defending more on the perimeter on switches which pulled Gortat away from the rim more.

But go back even beyond that, Gortat did a number on the hottest center in the league in Andre Drummond on Nov. 21. He had a modest count of 14 points and eight rebounds but held Drummond, who averages 18 points and 16 rebounds, to eight points and 13 rebounds.

The big upset that gave the Cleveland Cavaliers their first loss at home? It was Gortat, despite knowing that his mother was hospitalized in Poland and he would soon have to take a hiatus, had 15 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.

The Wizards lost to the Dallas Mavericks without Gortat because they lacked the size to compete with Zaza Pachulia and Dirk Nowitzki on post-ups. They met again Dec. 12 and won in Dallas behind Gortat's 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Gasol lit up the Wizards for 24 points when Memphis won 112-95 last week on Dec. 14, but Gortat made sure it didn't happen again. 

What doesn't appear in the stats are how many shots he forces opponents to shoot over his extended arms. He timed Gasol perfectly, realizing the 7-footer likes to turn to the baseline to take fading jumpers. Gortat was on top of him and made the angle to make the shot almost impossible. 

He has defended intelligently one-on-one and also is there on help in his rotations. After being unsure of the new offense and missing Nene, Gortat is starting to look more like the version of himself that averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds with the Phoenix Suns.

Gortat's averages are now 13.4 points and 9.4 rebounds but he's remaining business-like realizing the Wizards haven't gotten themselves out of the hole.

"We aren’t getting excited. ... I don’t think we are at .500 yet. We've got to continue to play like that. We are taking it game by game and just playing hard and giving everything that we have.”

[RELATED: Wizards' offense plays to Sessions' strengths]

Quick Links

Bradley Beal's potential All-NBA scenario leads league sources toward trade route

Bradley Beal's potential All-NBA scenario leads league sources toward trade route

With an All-NBA nod, Bradley Beal and the Wizards would almost immediately find themselves at a crossroads.

The honor would make him eligible for the supermax contract, which could force the Wizards to move the two-time All-Star. The Wizards already handed one of those supermax deals to John Wall. If Beal signed a four-year, $193 million extension, the two guards would gobble up more than two-thirds of the team's salary cap space starting in 2021-22.

Everyone knows of Washington's immediate concern. Wall faces a year-long recovery after suffering a ruptured left Achilles heel in February. Even with a prompt return, the Wizards cannot realistically plan on having the five-time All-Star next season.

Based on the injury and Wall turning 30, Wall's level of effectiveness in 2020-21 remains unclear. Ideally, he looks the part for at least the final two years of the contract.

Hold out for Wall's healthy return and the clock may run out on the two years remaining on Beal's current contract with no guarantee the shooting guard re-signs. Therefore, with the Wizards retooling after a 32-50 season and regardless of the All-NBA result, the answer is clear according to numerous league sources: Trade Bradley Beal for assets and salary cap space.

So where would he go?

That might depend.

Can New Orleans convince the disgruntled big man to reverse course on his trade demands? We'll see if that happens, but the Pelicans' current A, B and C plan involves rolling out Davis, projected No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson and Jrue Holiday next season, according to sources.

How this drama plays out affects the entire NBA off-season. Every team would welcome Davis, but only a few have the realistic assets to acquire one the league's top players. Some franchises stockpiled draft picks and players on rookie contracts for this moment. If the Pelicans keep Davis, a 2020 free agent, those teams must turn elsewhere.

No, that doesn't mean Bradley Beal automatically.

"As good as Bradley Beal is, he isn't Anthony Davis," one GM told NBC Sports Washington. "Beal isn't an alternative to Davis, but to free agency."

Beal has $56 million coming his way over the final two years of his current contract. Signing any of the 2019 free agent headliners would cost much more in terms of dollars and salary cap space.

76ers guard Jimmy Butler, a relative peer of Beal albeit four years older, is in line for a max contract of 5-year, $190 million with Philadelphia or 4-year, $141 with another team.

If there's a trade involving Beal this off-season, logic suggests, from the Wizards perspective, it occurs before or during the June 20 NBA Draft.

Beal's trade value on the current contract will likely never be higher. Since 2019 draft picks would probably be part of any deal, and the new general manager will want to make those selections.

A look at the landscape:

Lakers -- All the Davis trade buzz last season focused on Los Angeles since his camp made it clear that's where he wanted to land. The potential also worked since the Lakers asset class held great appeal. That is until the group largely plateaued during a dysfunctional season, the first Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma or Josh Hart played with LeBron James.

One general manager suggested not to diminish the upside on those players, contending the Lakers still have the best trade assets. "That's what they look like in that environment -- and playing with that guy," the GM told NBC Sports Washington.

If there's a deal with the Lakers, most sources would want Ball involved regardless of any parent distractions from his attention-seeking father, Lavar. "People just don't grasp how good he is," a source said.

Los Angeles owns the fourth pick in the 2019 Draft. One source views Ingram, Kuzma and four for Beal as fair value assuming Ingram, the No. 2 overall pick in 2016, is cleared medically following a blood clot scare that ended his season prematurely.

Knicks -- New York likely would want to wait for Kevin Durant to sign in free agency as the long-running rumors suggest. Then the question is who gets the second max slot.

Kyrie Irving? Certainly possible. We know the Celtics are out. One source said don't sleep on the Nets getting involved.

Kemba Walker is a New York native. The All-NBA candidate is also someone the Hornets might do whatever it costs to keep.

There's also Beal, who would make a great fit next to a fellow perimeter threat in Durant.

The Knicks' assets include the third pick in 2019, which is a projected tier above the fourth slot since it means landing no less than Duke guard RJ Barrett. New York also has impressive rookie center Mitchell Robinson, point guard Dennis Smith and an unprotected first-round pick from Dallas that projects to convey in 2021.

If the Knicks decline to part with Robinson and three, the Wizards would have to consider Barrett, the top recruit in the 2018 class and Duke's leading scorer, a future All-Star. They might.

Celtics -- The bond between Beal and Jayson Tatum began growing up in St. Louis. They could be connected again if Washington and Boston talk trade.

The Celtics own three first-round selections -- 14, 20, 22 -- in next month's draft along with two former top 5 picks on rookie deals: Tatum and Jaylon Brown.

"Tatum's stock took a hit this season," an Eastern Conference scout said. Others made similar claims during the season as the playmaking forward appeared lost at times playing with Irving. Regardless, Tatum is a talented 21-year-old who went head-to-head against LeBron James in the 2018 Eastern Conference Final.

"Tatum and 22 for Beal? Brown and 20? That's something to consider," the scout said.

The Wizards have plenty to consider over the next few weeks including whether to trade Bradley Beal.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS:

 

Quick Links

Elena Delle Donne the favorite to win WNBA MVP, according to league GMs

elena-delle-donne-national-anthem-mystics-usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

Elena Delle Donne the favorite to win WNBA MVP, according to league GMs

Washington Mystics forward Elena Delle Donne is one of the best players in the WNBA, and thus is always in the discussion for MVP honors. 

And heading into the 2019 season, league GMs give her the best chance of anyone to actually hoist the trophy when it's all said and done. 

In a WNBA.com survey of general managers, 42 percent picked Delle Donne to win MVP in 2019. Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury had the second-most votes at 25 percent, followed by A’ja Wilson of Las Vegas Aces at 17 percent then Las Vegas' Liz Cambage and Jonquel Jones of the Connecticut Sun at eight percent. 

Delle Donne won her first and only WNBA MVP award in 2015 as a member of the Chicago Sky when she averaged a career-high 23.4 points per game. And with the Mystics set to make another run at the WNBA title (58 percent of GMs predicted Washington to have the most regular season wins in the Eastern Conference), she has a great opportunity to get her second this season. 

MORE MYSTICS NEWS: