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Martin making most of training camp experience

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Martin making most of training camp experience

Moments after the Wizards' Thursday night, split-squad scrimmage restarted following a mid-session break, Cartier Martin drained a 3-pointer from the wing. Another trip or two down the court later, the 6-foot-7 swingman splashed one in from the deep left corner. Moments later and back beyond the arc, another successful 3-ball splash.

Watching Martin knock down shots from long range is not a stunner, seeing as his 38.7 percentage from distance last season led the Wizards. The shocker is simply seeing the perennial late season signee with the team at this stage of the campaign.

"It feels good, it feels really good to start from the beginning, get a feel for the whole system from the beginning," said Martin during Monday's Media Day. "This is basically a dream come true for me."

The four-year veteran's NBA experience includes three total stints with the Wizards. As Washington looked to fill in an injury-depleted roster over the final weeks of last season, Martin averaged 9.3 points in 17 games. Needing perimeter help, Washington resigned the former Kansas State star this offseason.

Following Thursday's shooting display, Wizards coach Randy Wittman said of Martin, "It's always tough bringing someone in in March and getting them to fit in. He's comfortable obviously because he was with was us at the end of last year and he's doing a nice job."

Armed with a consistent touch from long range enhances the 27-year-old Texan's comfort level on the court.

"As a shooter, I'm always confident," Martin said after Thursday's practice. "Earlier, a couple hadn't been going down for me, but the main thing for me is to keep shooting and trust in my shot. These guys have confidence in me that I can shoot the ball, and I go out there and shoot it."

Part of the battle for small forward minutes behind presumed starter Trevor Ariza, Martin's versatility extends into the backcourt and with his ability to defend a variety of wing players. After years of living as a professional basketball-playing vagabond with stops in China, Turkey, two additional NBA cities and elsewhere, Martin used the knowledge that he had a place to call home to his advantage during the offseason.

"You know exactly what you need to work on once you know the program where you're going too. I talked with the coaches, I knew what they wanted me to work on, I worked on those things to get myself better and to be a better player for the Wizards."

Martin ticked off a laundry list of items he's been practicing, including "working off the dribble pick-and-rolls...Catching and shooting is one of the things I'm doing well right now. I'm working on one-dribble, two-dribble pull-ups, and just getting into my scene and finding open shots."

Wittman has repeatedly emphasized the competition for minutes in this camp and how the players will ultimately determine their lot in the team's rotation.

"Hey, I'm confident that they'll use me in the best way to be able to help us win games," Martin said. "So whatever they ask me, I'm a team player, I'm going to go out there and play my role."

At least this time, Martin will play the role, any role, from the start.

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

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USA Today Sports Images

Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

The 2018 NBA offseason in just three weeks has become one of the wildest summers in the league's history between LeBron James signing with the Lakers, and all the characters that followed him, to DeMarcus Cousins surprising everyone to sign with the Golden State Warriors, to Kawhi Leonard getting traded to the Raptors.

As crazy as it all has been, two teams in the Eastern Conference stand out for so far doing very little, either by choice or circumstance. The Celtics and Sixers, the two teams most see as the favorites in the East, appear at least so far to be running it back with the same group of players.

This appears to be the Celtics' intention. After overhauling their roster last summer, they clearly see an opportunity to take a step forward as-is. Boston was one win away from the NBA Finals and will return Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving from injury. With James gone to the West, they can improve significanly just by keeping it all together.

Boston re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes. Their biggest addition this summer so far has been their first round pick, Robert Williams.

The Sixers, unlike the Celtics, didn't appear to plan on doing it this way. They wanted James and missed out. They reportedly had interest in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, but both went elsewhere. There are no stars left to sign in free agency and the trade market may be drying up.

Philly made some minor moves like trades for Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala. They may also have a deal for Kyle Korver in the works. They also had two first round picks in Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet.

There's a chance the Sixers got better than people think, as many of the moves they made seem smart. But they didn't reel in a big fish and will probably come back for the 2018-19 season with a team very similar to the one that made the second round of the playoffs this spring.

The fact the Celtics and Sixers may stand pat is probably a good thing for the rest of the East. Both teams may improve naturally if they are healthier and if their young players continue to ascend. But neither made a game-changing addition, one that would solidify either as an unstoppable superteam in the conference. 

The West is overloaded with title contenders and All-NBA players. The East, meanwhile, is much more open and it may end up staying that way mainly because Boston and Philly have been quiet so far this summer.

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Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld has stayed relatively busy this summer crafting his new-look lineup for the 2018-19 season. 

One of the team's key additions, Dwight Howard, is set to be introduced as a member of the Wizards on Monday. 

NBC Sports Washington will air the introductory press conference live at 1 p.m. while also streaming it online.  

Ernie Grunfeld and head coach Scott Brooks are both expected to be in attendance. 

The 32-year-old big man is coming off a 2017-18 season with the Charlotte Hornets in which he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. 

Since leaving the Orlando Magic after eight seasons in 2011, Howard has played for four different teams in the last six years. 

Howard is an eight-time all-star and a three-time defensive player of the year. 

 

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John Wall's take on Dwight Howard 

Wizards make Dwight Howard free agent signing official 

By the numbers: Is new Wizards center Dwight Howard still in his NBA prime?