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Hollins likely starter at center, Dudley could sub when Wizards go small


Hollins likely starter at center, Dudley could sub when Wizards go small

Because of the opponent and out of necessity, the Wizards likely will resort to more small lineups than usual tonight against the Phoenix Suns though 7-footer Ryan Hollins, who joined them earlier in the week, expects to get his first start (CSN, CSNmidatlantic.com and NBC Sports Live Extra, 6:30 p.m.).

Hollins was signed Monday after the Wizards (7-9) waived Martell Webster. Nene (left calf) is out, Drew Gooden (left calf) didn't shoot around with them this morning and starting center Marcin Gortat (personal leave) returned to Poland to be with his hospitalized mother after Wednesday's loss to the L.A. Lakers. Kris Humphries (ankle) didn't shoot around this morning and is questionable to play. 

"I've been everywhere in this league from a starter to a guy off the bench to first man, last man, five minutes, two minutes," said Hollins, who played 11 minutes but didn't score against the Lakers. "That last game was good because I've been working my butt off. There's no way you can simulate game minutes."

Hollins is familiar with John Wall, who spends offseasons in the Los Angeles area. That's where Hollins is from.

"In the NBA we all essentially run the same sets and it's just learning the concepts," Hollins said. "Once you learn your concepts, you learn your teammates you get chemistry. It's easy. Me and John, we play together just about every summer in the offseason. I'm really familiar with his game already. ... Ten years in, you can pick up plays pretty quick."

The Wizards, however, will be facing a team in Phoenix (8-11) that has been problematic in the past because of guard play and their high volume of pick-and-rolls. Starting center Tyson Chandler (hamstring) is out and Alex Len is expected to get the start. Markieff Morris (knee) went through shootaround but is questionable. 

That's where Jared Dudley, who played the five spot in a 97-85 win on Tuesday at the Cleveland Cavaliers, comes in. The Suns could go small even more often.

"I expect to play everything," said Dudley, who has played a season-high 32 minutes in the last two games. "To be able to play 40-plus (minutes), we only got three bigs so for me, a lot of guards, a lot of pick-and-rolls, my value being up in the picks. ... We're all going to play depending on how well you play you can play more. If those guys get into foul trouble I might not have no choice. It could be one of those games where you play 45. You just don't know. The good thing is they're small, too."

The Wizards successfully went to a lineup of Wall, Bradley Beal, Garrett Temple, Otto Porter and Dudley twice in that game. The first time, it was for 2:34 of the second quarter when they expanded a three-point lead to 10. The next time came in the fourth quarter, with LeBron James on the floor, and coach Randy Wittman stuck with it for nine minutes because of foul trouble to Gortat. The Wizards stretched a 14-point lead to 19.

Porter is the tallest of the bunch at 6-8, but they have a lot of length with Temple at 6-6 and Dudley 6-7. They also can call on rookie Kelly Oubre, who is 6-7 and has a 7-2 wingspan. When they swallowed up Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson in Cleveland, they fronted the post and doubled from the weak side on the entry pass. If the ball went back out to the perimeter, they're athletic and long enough to recover to the shooters. It caused havoc, missed shots and allowed them to get out in transition.

"This is a perfect game if you're going to be hurt," Dudley said.

MORE WIZARDS: Wizards scramble to plug gaps to challenge Suns

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: John Wall goes 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, celebrity softball and the Summer League


Wizards Tipoff podcast: John Wall goes 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, celebrity softball and the Summer League

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, John Wall went 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, the celebrity softball game and the Summer League.

Chase Hughes and Chris Miller broke down the parallels between Wall and Harper and why Wall has chosen to stay loyal to Washington in his own contract decisions. Plus, can the Wizards really tone down the talking this season?

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Kawhi Leonard going to the Raptors may actually be good news for the Wizards and the East

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Kawhi Leonard going to the Raptors may actually be good news for the Wizards and the East

Through nearly three weeks of NBA free agency and almost a month of trades, the Eastern Conference had remained eerily quiet. The Wizards had arguably been the most aggressive team in the East, as all the biggest moves had occurred in the West and, most notably, LeBron James changed coasts.

That all changed on Wednesday as the Toronto Raptors pulled off a trade with the San Antonio Spurs to land Kawhi Leonard, a two-time defensive player of the year. The full deal includes All-NBA guard DeMar DeRozan going to San Antonio along with big man Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first round pick. The Raptors also get guard Danny Green, according to ESPN.

Here are some takeaways from the trade...

This is good, potentially great news for the Wizards

The worst-case scenario for the Wizards and most of the East would have been if Leonard got dealt to either the Sixers or Celtics, as the potential would have been there for a dominant team. The Sixers, in particular, could have conceivably traded for Leonard without giving up much in the way of pieces that can help them now. They would have teamed Leonard with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid and would probably be the favorites to reach the NBA Finals. Instead, the Sixers struck out and now face the prospect of taking a pretty big L on this offseason, given all the guys they were tied to going into it.

Leonard and the Raptors will be good and they may even be better than they were last season. Though the Raptors won 59 games in the regular season, they disappointed in the playoffs. Leonard could change that, but he won't have the help to make them an unstoppable force. Kyle Lowry is good, but he's an aging player and they don't have a third star, at least not yet. They have a lot of recent first round picks that could, in theory, make the leap.

This deal is good for the Wizards and could become great if Leonard leaves in free agency next summer. If he does, the Raptors will be in deep trouble.

What will the Lakers do?

When James signed with the Lakers, most assumed they would then add at least one star to run with him. But now that Leonard is going to Toronto, it's very possible they don't add one at all. James might actually have to play with Lonzo Ball in addition to Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee. Sure, they can sign Leonard next summer or find another star then, but this is shaping up as of now to be a lost year for James.

As consistitued, they aren't winning anything of substance. It's just so surprising James would be cool with this level of talent around him considering what he could have done this season if he signed with Philly or some other team.

People are looking at the wrong contract

Much of the instant reaction to the Leonard trade was praise for the Raptors in ridding themselves of DeRozan's deal. That's a headscratcher. DeRozan is set to make over $27 million in the next three years, the third being a player option, but he's an All-NBA player who turns 29 next month. In the context of NBA contracts, that isn't too bad.

Lowry's contract, on the other hand, is borderline awful. He's 32 with his numbers heading in the wrong direction and he's due to make $31 million next season and $33.3 million the year after. It's not like the Raptors freed themselves of their worst deal.

Masai is making moves

This is a risk for the Raptors and you have to respect it. Their general manager, Masai Ujiri, had seen enough of the DeRozan-Lowry duo falling short in the playoffs. He fired head coach Dwane Casey and pulled off a trade for Leonard, who at his best is one of the premier players in the NBA.

There is considerable risk in this move with Leonard having missed 73 games last season with a quadriceps injury and given the fact he can opt to test free agency next summer. If he really does want to join the Lakers, he could leave the Raptors empty-handed.

But it's a risk that is probably worth taking. Everyone assumed the same future for Paul George and he ended up staying in Oklahoma City. It's not a guarantee Leonard leaves and now the Raptors have a year to convince him to stay. Ujiri should get praise for this deal because it's bold and he did one of the hardest things a GM can do in finding a top-5 talent for his team.

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