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How trade deadline decisions hint at Wizards' future Otto Porter plans

How trade deadline decisions hint at Wizards' future Otto Porter plans

The calls about Otto Porter came early and often during the trade deadline that passed earlier today, but they went unanswered by Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld. He plans on keeping the soon-to-be restricted free agent now that he has blossomed into an elite shooter who is a perfect fit for one the NBA’s best starting fives.

“We love Otto,” Grunfeld told CSNmidatlantic.com, before the Wizards departed for Fridays' game at the Philadelphia 76ers. “We love the way that he’s developed and how he’s come along. I think Otto fits in very well with what we’re trying to do. I said he’s part of our core and we want to keep him here.”

Porter didn’t enter his fourth NBA season as this hot of a commodity. But in his first season under coach Scott Brooks he has elevated every aspect of his game, averaging career-highs of 14.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, 53.4% overall shooting and an NBA-high 46.5% three-point shooting.

With John Wall and Bradley Beal having All-Star-caliber seasons, and Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat playing their best basketball since coming to D.C., Porter has stepped right in. He’s no longer the shy, shoulder-shrugging Mr. Nice Guy that he was when the Wizards drafted him No. 3 overall in 2013.

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Though he’s still a nice guy, he has more edge to his game and certainly a confidence that was absent in most of his first two seasons. Last season, Porter’s first as the starting small forward, he came on strong late after lingering in the low 30s on his shot from three.

Now it’s a well-oiled machine. When defense overcommit to Wall and Beal, Porter makes them pay. As a result of his explosion, so will the Wizards to keep him. Porter's emergence created an unexpected expense.

The move made by the Wizards to trade Andrew Nicholson’s $26 million salary, in addition to sacrificing a lottery-protected first-round pick to the Brooklyn Nets for Bojan Bogdanovic, was to create more cap room. They anticipate needing it to retain Porter, who earns $5.9 million this season.

The Wizards must make him a qualifying offer of 125% of that salary to retain the first right of refusal by making Porter restricted. Not making a qualifying offer would allow him to become unrestricted.

“He and John, Bradley, Keef and Marcin and all the rest of our players complement each other very well,” Grunfeld said. “We hope to have him here for a long time.”

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Wizards' Beal reacts to arrest of CNN reporter covering unrest in Minneapolis

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Wizards' Beal reacts to arrest of CNN reporter covering unrest in Minneapolis

Bradley Beal took to Twitter on Friday to express concern over the arrest of CNN's Oscar Jimenez while covering the unrest in Minneapolis on Thursday night. 

"We arresting reporters and not the cop? Okay," Beal wrote.

Jimenez and his crew were detained while covering the response to the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody after a police officer kept his knee on his neck for several minutes. His death has sparked massive unrest in Minneapolis. Beal is one of many athletes to speak out about the death - on a conference call earlier this week, Ravens' Ronnie Stanley told reporters of Floyd's death: 

“It’s something that obviously it’s pretty easy to see what’s happening. Hopefully justice prevails in this case. It’s really sad to see. I really feel bad for him, his family and his loved ones. I’m keeping them in my prayers.”

A number of other NBA players have also spoken out. LeBron James posted a photo of himself wearing an "I Can't Breathe" shirt, which he and a number of other players wore in response to Eric Garner's death in New York in 2014. "Still," he wrote in the Instagram caption.

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STILL!!!! 🤬😢😤

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Earlier this week, Beal also tweeted this about Floyd's death:

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2020 NBA Draft: Could big-man Vernon Carey Jr. drop to the Wizards in the second round?

2020 NBA Draft: Could big-man Vernon Carey Jr. drop to the Wizards in the second round?

The Washington Wizards are likely to have a lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2020 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Vernon Carey Jr. 

Team: Duke
Position: PF/C
Age: 19
Height: 6-10
Weight: 270
Wingspan: 7-0

2019/20 stats: 31 G, 24.9mpg, 17.8 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.7 spg, 1.6 bpg, 57.7 FG% (6.4/11.1), 38.1 3PT% (0.3/0.7), 67.0 FT%

Player comparison: DeMarcus Cousins, Domantas Sabonis

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 27th, Sports Illustrated 27th, Ringer 45th, NBADraft.net 13th, Bleacher Report N/A

5 things to know:

*At Duke, Vernon Carey Jr. was a bruiser, a typical big-man in every sense that he would simply impose his will on any opponent in the way. He's extremely strong and built like a tight end in the NFL, with his athleticism and burst making him fit the mold for a quick-paced team. That combination allows him to thrive with a bevy of post moves in his arsenal.

*Many analysts are split on where Carey projects in the draft order. One mock has him as a lottery pick as high as 13th, others don't even have the 6-foot-10 big-man as a first-round prospect. This is partly due to his sometimes poor decision-making and lack of developing a perimeter game. There is no denying his athleticism or raw talent though, just his best assets are not as valuable as they once were in the NBA.

*It seemed Carey knew that he needed to show flashes of a 3-point game to fit into today's NBA. He only attempted 21 3-pointers, mostly due to Coach K's system, and fared decently well. What he did show was a reliable jumper and good form that could translate as he gets more repetitions. 

*No matter where selected, Carey is one of the top rebounders of his class. He's at or above the level of James Wiseman, who many NBA executives say should be the No. 1 pick. Carey understands positioning well and prioritizes it on every possession. Last season he averaged 14.1 rebounds per 40 minutes, one of the best in Division I. He's a fine blocker, but most are against smaller guards and wings, and he doesn't have the same reach against other bigs. 

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*Athleticism runs in the family. His father, Vernon Carey Sr. was an offensive lineman for the Miami Dolphins from 2004-11 and was drafted 19th in the 2004 NFL Draft. 

Fit with Wizards: One of the major holes in the Wizards rotation on both ends of the floor is their interior post-game. Several elements of Carey's game are exactly what the Wizards are looking for to fill some voids. 

Carey would be able to boost the team's presence on the boards and be able to adequately defend other bigs. Even as a late first-round, early second-round prospect, Carey could find himself competing for a starting role with Thomas Bryant at the center spot. He can hold his own on the offensive end of the court and even has a more polished jumper than Bryant. 

Athletically, Carey would be one of the few centers in the draft that is more than capable of fitting into Scott Brooks' up-tempo style. He's nimble and has the durability to move up and down the floor. Often he was the first on the other end of the court in transition opportunities.

Over time, Washington will need him to continue to build on his range, but the fundamentals are there to show he won't reside in the post every possession.

There are some concerns as he defends. Outside, he can cover stretch-fours and other players of similar size. However, sometimes he overcommits on fakes or rotates over on a cutting player. He won't exactly shut down the best centers in the league. 

Drafting Carey with the Wizards' first-round pick would be a bit of a stretch, but the Wizards' second-rounder could be in play. While the order is not entirely set, Washington will likely have one of the first 10 picks of the second round. Depending on how teams view Carey, there is a possibility the center would be available. 

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