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John Wall speculates about what may have turned off Kevin Durant

John Wall speculates about what may have turned off Kevin Durant

FAIRFAX, Va. -- Nothing is official yet when it comes to Kevin Durant in regards to where he'll play next season, but the Wizards are on the outside looking in while the forward surveys his options outside of the Oklahoma City Thunder. John Wall understands why the hottest free agent this summer likely won't come play in his hometown or meet with team officials to discuss.

"A lot of people will be devastated. But at the end of the day he never promised us anything," Wall said to CSNmidatlantic.com on Sunday during the final day of his camp at Fairfax High School, before departing for his offseason home in Los Angeles. "Every day, everybody said KD-to-DC, coming to our games wearing all the Kevin Durant stuff, he didn’t like it at that time because you should cheer for the team that you got. That might sway him."

Durant made no secret of his disdain for what he perceived as a disrespect to Wall, a three-time All-Star, and Bradley Beal. They'd won 44 and 46 games in 2014 and '15 and got the Wizards to the conference semifinals in consecutive seasons. If not for Wall's broken wrist a year ago, they were in good position to advance to the East finals. Though that's still not a championship, it represented incredible progress for a franchise that had been on a six-year postseason drought. 

Then came the 41-41 season, a players-only meeting for a team with an identity crisis, an injury rash that led to the firing of the longtime head athletic trainer and the firing of coach Randy Wittman. 

"It’s his heart and his decision if he wants to meet with us," Wall said. "If he feels like he can win a championship here, so be it. If not, he probably won’t come. The way this season went might play into it. ... I think it’s early (in the process). Everybody knew the teams he was going to meet with early on, Warriors, Spurs, but after that you got to figure it out. But if you don’t have a shot you have to move on."

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Dwight Howard improving, but status still unknown entering Wizards' season opener

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NBCSW

Dwight Howard improving, but status still unknown entering Wizards' season opener

Dwight Howard may play in the Wizards' regular-season opener on Thursday night against the Miami Heat, but the team will not know until the day of the game and likely won't announce the decision either way until head coach Scott Brooks addresses the media about two hours before tipoff.

Howard only has three practices under his belt but has made significant progress throughout this week after missing all five of the team's preseason games due to a strain in his piriformis muscle.

Head coach Scott Brooks said Howard has looked good in those three practices but has a lot of missed time to make up for.

"I think he's definitely winded at times, but that's part of it," Brooks said.

Brooks added that Howard is not getting the same lift when jumping that he's used to. Howard, 32, is used to playing above the rim and his vertical leap is an important part of his game.

The Wizards play their first two games at home, the second on Saturday against the Raptors. They then embark on a Western Conference road trip beginning with the Blazers on Monday.

Brooks said Howard will "definitely" make that trip with the team, which gives a good indication of how close he is to returning to game action. When Howard is ready to play will be left up to the team's medical staff.

If Howard does miss time, the Wizards are expected to rely on his backup Ian Mahinmi as the starting center. Jason Smith would then become the No. 2 center on the depth chart, though they could use forwards like Markieff Morris or Jeff Green at the five-spot.

Howard signed a two-year free-agent deal worth $11 million to join the Wizards in July.

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John Wall and Bradley Beal will depend on each other more than ever in year 7

John Wall and Bradley Beal will depend on each other more than ever in year 7

The Wizards will only go as far as John Wall and Bradley Beal take them. There's just no other way around it.

The chemistry between Wall and Beal has been the dominant topic for years surrounding this team, and the magnifying glass will only be pushed closer this season, despite all of the other additions the Wizards made this offseason.

It's all about the backcourt. 

Luckily, both Wizards All-Stars understand and embrace the pressure. 

"We're opposites, but we're the same in a way," Beal told NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller. "He's more loud and outspoken, I'm more chill and relaxed, but you put us together, it's peanut butter and jelly."

Have you noticed that peanut butter and jelly always seems to be the go-to "good combination" for people? At least Beal didn't say something weird like tuna and bananas, although to each his own if that's what you like.

Anyway, more importantly, Wall understands this sandwich dynamic just as much as Beal does. Especially when the topic of a championship comes up. 

"I couldn't get it without him, and he couldn't do it without me," Wall said.  "I think that's the bond we have built, and it's gotten so much better each year."

One of the biggest reasons for divorce that we see in pro sports is ego. So many players don't understand what Wall alluded to. No matter how good you are, you can't do it alone. You need your wingman.

There were certainly rumblings or worries that Wall and Beal had their issues chemistry-wise earlier in their careers, but we're seeing two young stars grow as each season passes. 

That doesn't mean there still won't be times where they don't click. That's natural.

Keep in mind though, this is the seventh season the two will play together. The NBA is known to chew up and spit out young, inexperienced teams. The grind is part of the journey. Wall and Beal have had playoff success and failures, but they went through it together.

Now comes the time where those learning experiences become something they grow from, and use it to fuel a push to their ultimate goal – a championship.

And maybe a better peanut butter and jelly sandwich. 

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