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His own future uncertain, Butler sees bright one for Wizards

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His own future uncertain, Butler sees bright one for Wizards

Rasual Butler needed a new work home last offseason. Having faced the Wizards during the 2014 NBA playoffs, the veteran swingman with a gritty game and professional demeanor felt Washington made for a good fit. Nobody could have imagined how good.

The Wizards raced out to a 22-8 record through Dec. 29. John Wall's playmaking prowess and the team's interior muscle with Nene and Marcin Gortat led the way, as expected. Butler turning into a 3-point shooting monster and crunch-time option after making the roster during the training camp, nobody projected such a scenario.

Whether Butler will be part of the roster next season is among the questions the organization and player will contemplate over the next few months.

"This is a promising team. If John was healthy, I'm sure we would be still playing," Butler said during his time with the media on Monday's breakdown day. "This is a great group of guys, a great coaching staff, a great organization. I absolutely would love to return."

Butler, who turns 36 Saturday, entered training camp without guarantees or a roster spot. Making the 15-man roster seemed daunting. Finding playing time seemed improbable. Yet Butler sensed his offensive potential if given a chance.

"Playing against them the season before when I was with the Pacers, you could see just how tough this team was," Butler said of the Wizards. "They had a really young core ...That was intriguing, playing with someone like John Wall, Bradley Beal. Those guys would get so much attention. Even Nene and Gortat, bigs who can really pass the ball. I thought like I would be a really good fit here.

"I think for the better half of the beginning of the season, that was the case."

The initial training camp depth chart showed Paul Pierce and Otto Porter ahead of Butler at small forward, Beal, Glen Rice Jr. and Garrett Temple in front of him at wing guard. Martell Webster's offseason back surgery led the team to consider adding more perimeter depth. Then Beal suffered a wrist injury during the preseason, leading to more starting work for Temple. Then Rice fell out of favor with the coaching staff before his eventual release. Porter didn't produce consistently. 

Butler filled the void. He shot an absurd 55.2 percent (16 of 29) on 3-pointers during 10 games in November. His minutes picked up in December while his production remained robust. Butler averaged 11.6 points and 26 minutes while sinking 47 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. 

As the season progressed, Butler's numbers regressed toward the mean. He shot 28.4 percent from deep after the All-Star break. His minutes dipped accordingly, though Butler remained in the rotation throughout the regular season. He ended up playing averaging 7.7 points in 75 games, his best numbers since the 2009-10 season.

"I've been blessed. I'm extremely excited about my journey, having the opportunity to be part of the Wizards organization, being part of the success this year. Really being able to contribute," he said.

Even though Washington's season ended in the exact same spot - losing in six games in the Eastern Conference semifinals -, the general sense is that indeed this team advanced from the previous season. 

There is no guarantee Butler will be around for the next step. He is among the team's four free agents. At his age, it's unlikely the Wizards make retaining him a main priority as they ponder big picture moves with a conference and NBA title in mind. If Pierce returns and with Beal and Porter around, most of the wing minutes will be gobbled up by that trio.

Then again, who would have imagined Butler's impact on the 2014-15 season.

"A lot of things change over free agency, "Butler said. "Not really sure the direction the team is going to go in. Only thing I can control is how I prepare myself to be ready."

MORE WIZARDS: NBA Draft: Spotty recent history with 19th pick

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Wizards' first pre-draft workout to feature Diallo of Kentucky, local star from UMBC

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards' first pre-draft workout to feature Diallo of Kentucky, local star from UMBC

The Washington Wizards will hold their first pre-draft workout on Tuesday at Capital One Arena and the group of six players features some familiar names. 

Included in the mix is guard Jairus Lyles, who starred for the Unversity of Maryland-Baltimore County and helped lead them as a 16-seed over top-ranked Virginia in the NCAA Tournament. It was the first 16-over-a-1 upset in the tournament's history.

Here are the six players with some notes on each one...

Chris Chiozza, guard, Florida (6-0, 175)

Chiozza played four years at Florida and finished as the school's all-time assists leader. He averaged 11.1 points, 6.1 assists and 1.9 steals per game as a senior.

Hamidou Diallo, guard, Kentucky (6-5, 198)

Diallo redshirted in 2016-17 and played one season for the Wildcats. He averaged 10.0 points and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 45.8 percent from the field. Diallo measured 6-foot-6 with shoes at the combine and boasts a 7-foot wingspan.

Tiwian Kendley, guard, Morgan State (6-5, 190)

Kendly was a big-time scorer at Morgan St., averaging 21.0 points as a redshirt junior and 26.1 points as a senior. He took a lot of shots, however, averaging 18.2 field goal attempts on 45.3 percent from the field this past season. Kendley starred at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Maryland before joining the college ranks, first at Lamar Community College.

Jairus Lyles, guard, UMBC (6-2, 175)

Lyles was the leading scorer for the Retrievers this past season as they became the biggest underdog Cinderella in NCAA history. He averaged 20.2 points and shot 39.0 percent from three on 6.1 attempts. Lyles began his college career at VCU and played high school ball at nearby DeMatha.

Doral Moore, center, Wake Forest (7-1, 280)

A three-year player at Wake Forest, Moore had a breakout season as a junior with averages of 11.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. Moore played with Sixers star Ben Simmons in high school.

Ray Spalding, forward, Louisville (6-10, 215)

Spalding played three years at Louisville and averaged 12.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.5 steals per game as a junior. He posted a 7-5 wingspan at the NBA Combine. Spalding played with Jazz star Donovan Mitchell in college. 

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Mike Scott

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Mike Scott

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Mike Scott's season...

Player: Mike Scott

Position: Power forward

Age: 29

2017-18 salary: $1.7 million

2017-18 stats: 76 G, 18.5 mpg, 8.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.1 bpg, 52.7 FG%, 40.5 3P%, 65.8 FT%, 59.0 eFG%, 109 ORtg, 111 DRtg

Best game: 12/9 at Clippers - 22 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 9-for-11 FG, 3-for-4 3PT, 28 minutes

Season review: The 2017-18 Wizards season was full of unpredictability and the most positive surprise had to be the comeback of Mike Scott.

The Wizards signed Scott to a veteran minimum contract last offseason after a workout at Capital One Arena. This came just months after he had felony drug charges dropped in the state of Georgia, he lost 25 pounds and rehabbed a leg injury. That spring he had wondered, and justifiably, if his NBA career was over.

Scott overcame all of those odds to not only return to the NBA, but re-establish himself as a productive player off the bench. No one was more consistent start-to-finish in the Wizards' second unit than Scott was.

Scott earned a significant role in head coach Scott Brooks' rotation out of the preseason and stayed there. He reached double-figures in 31 of his 76 games, second only to Kelly Oubre, Jr. on the Wizards. 

Scott's primary value was on offense. He scored inside and out and got his points with remarkable efficiency. He led the Wizards and was tied for 11th in the NBA in effective field-goal percentage. He was second on Washington in field goal percentage and third in three-point percentage. 

Scott closed the season strong, reaching double-figures in scoring in seven of the last nine regular season games. He carried that over into the playoffs with 46 points through their first three games against the Raptors. 

Now comes the question of how much money Scott earned himself with his comeback year and whether the Wizards can afford keeping him. Since they are in the luxury tax, they will have little money to spend this summer. 

The way to keep Scott would be to use the remainder of their taxpayer mid-level exception, but that figures to be only about $1.9 million, not much more than what Scott made in 2017-18. Given how well he played this season, it would not be surprising if he earns much more than that.

Potential to improve: Free throw shooting, forcing turnovers, ability to guard bigs

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

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