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Maturing Oubre ready for second NBA Summer League

Maturing Oubre ready for second NBA Summer League

One year ago, Kelly Oubre Jr. arrived in Washington with teenage bravado and raw athletic skills. The Wizards' first round pick flashed brightly at times on the basketball court, but often looked inconsistent during a sparsely played rookie season.

Soon, we'll get a look to see if his basketball skill set went next-level. Oubre was among those participating at Verizon Center Tuesday as Washington opened a three-day practice session before heading to Las Vegas for the NBA Summer League.

Off the court, the small forward already stretched his game thanks to adulthood realities.

"I would say I'm more mature," the now 20-year-old said. "I think taxes and bills will do that to you, especially at our tax bracket."

Based on the composition of Washington's main roster, the Wizards are relying on Oubre's growth between the lines as well. The evolving and unofficial depth chart slots the 2015 first round pick behind starter Otto Porter.

The NBA season, that's down the line. On deck, Oubre gets his second crack at the NBA Summer League.

"Since this is my second go-round, I'm a little bit more even keeled," Oubre said after Tuesday's practice. "I wouldn't say I know what to expect, but I kind of have a grasp. I'm not getting to high; I'm not getting to low. I'm more so motivated -- really motivated this offseason pretty hard. I'm excited to get out there and compete against other bodies."

Since Washington's season ended in April, Oubre has primarily worked out in the Los Angeles area with his personal trainer, Drew Hanlen, who also counts Bradley Beal as a client.

"I've been in the trenches. I've been working out," Oubre said.

Under coach Randy Wittman, Oubre was often out of the lineup despite being one of the few Wizards not to suffer an injury. He averaged 11 minutes in 63 games.

The summer league practices provide an opportunity to work with Washington's new coaching staff, led by head coach Scott Brooks.

Asked if he expects to play more in year two, Oubre excitedly blurted, "100 percent," before catching himself. "Hopefully," he finished.

"I'm just trying to listen to the coaches, learn the game, things that I don't know so that when it comes to the season against bigger bodies, I'm one step ahead and not one step slower like I was last year. It's big for me."


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Trading Jodie Meeks gives Washington Wizards much-needed salary cap relief

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Trading Jodie Meeks gives Washington Wizards much-needed salary cap relief

With a luxury tax bill of approximately $19 million on the way, the Washington Wizards gave themselves some salary relief on Monday by trading veteran guard Jodie Meeks to the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Wizards attached a future second round pick and cash to the deal and in exchange received a future second round pick of their own, NBC Sports Washington has confirmed. ESPN first reported the news.

Though Meeks, 31, was due to make $3.45 million this season, his departure saves the Wizards about $7 million because of projected tax penalties. That's a lot of savings in a deal that got rid of a player who had become expendable.

Meeks had fallen out of favor with the Wizards for a variety of reasons. He was due to serve a 19-game suspension to begin the season due to performance-enhancing drugs. The ban was announced the day before their first round playoff series against the Raptors was set to begin in April.

Meeks also underperformed last season in the first year of his contract with the Wizards and requested a trade in February. This summer, Meeks exercised his player option to remain with the team.

The Wizards were not likely to count on Meeks much at all this season because they traded for Austin Rivers in June to add depth at the shooting guard position. Meeks' role was made clear by the fact he did not appear in any of the Wizards' four preseason games against NBA opponents.

Meeks' tenure in Washington was a significant disappointment. The Wizards signed him last summer in hopes he could shore up the shooting guard spot on their bench. 

Though he stayed healthy for the first time in years, he never earned the trust of his coaching staff. The Wizards opted to rely more heavily on starter Bradley Beal, who logged the fourth-most minutes of any NBA player last season.

Now, they are moving on.

Meeks leaving the organization should have little effect on the Wizards, though it does leave them with a hole on their roster that needs to be filled. They currently have 13 players, one below the league minimum. The Wizards now have 14 days to add a 14th player.

They could sign a free agent, convert one of their players on two-way contracts (Devin Robinson and Jordan McRae) or make a trade. The Meeks deal gives them a $3.45 million trade exception.


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Dwight Howard practices for first time with Wizards, raising likelihood he plays in opener

Dwight Howard practices for first time with Wizards, raising likelihood he plays in opener

On Monday, for the first time since 2018-19 training camp began, the Wizards were complete.

Dwight Howard, who missed three weeks due to a strained piriformis muscle, participated in his first full practice with his new team. The 32-year-old signed a free agent deal with the Wizards in July, but had yet to take the court due to the injury, which began bothering him shortly before camp began on Sept. 25.

Howard had a setback on Oct. 6 and saw a specialist in New York. He received a pain injection on Tuesday and on Saturday began shooting again.

After clearing that hurdle, he was ready to be a full-go with his new teammates.

"It felt pretty good. I really gotta catch my wind and learn some of the offense. But other than that, it felt pretty good," Howard said of Day 1.

Howard practicing on Monday gives him two more days to work with before the Wizards open their season on Thursday at home against the Miami Heat. Both he and head coach Scott Brooks say it's too early to tell if he will be available.

"We'll see how it feels. I will do everything I can to make myself available for all 82 games," Howard said.

Howard not only has to play himself into game shape, he has to develop chemistry and timing with his new teammates. He missed all five of their preseason games.

If Howard can play, that would certainly be a positive turn of events for the Wizards. As of the end of last week, it seemed highly unlikely he would be ready when the regular season began.

But Howard turned a corner and now appears to be coming along quicker than once expected. 

"It was probably our best practice of training camp," Brooks said Monday after finally getting Howard into the mix.

"He has a natural feel. His IQ was pretty high, I was impressed with that. He picked things up."

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