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Morning tip: How Wizards plan to develop another young player in Chris McCullough

Morning tip: How Wizards plan to develop another young player in Chris McCullough

The phone kept ringing, and even when Chris McCullough's agent told him that he had been traded to the Wizards the 6-10 big man didn't believe it.

"It definitely caught me off-guard. It was unexpected," said McCullough, who arrived after the Wizards practiced Thursday and joined them for their first post-All-Star Game at the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday. "I was sleeping when it happened. My phone just started ringing, ringing, ringing. I finally answered it. I got a text saying I was traded to the Wizards. I thought my agent was messing with me."

McCullough, who was acquired in a deal that also sent Brooklyn Nets teammate Bojan Bogdanovic to Washington, has spent most of his second NBA season with the Long Island Nets, playing for the D-League. He had to take a pair of two-hour flights to get to D.C. from Grand Rapids, Mich.

Before he tore his right anterior cruciate ligament in a game January 2015, five months before the NBA draft. The Nets still took him 29th overall in the first round. 

"People had projected him as a possible lottery pick," Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said. "He’s still coming back off of that injury. He’s 6-foot-10, runs the floor well, he can shoot the basketball, very athletic and he has some upside. We’re going to try to develop him. We’re going to try to work with him and how much he develops we’ll see. It’s really going to be up to him."

MORE WIZARDS: 5 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT CHRIS MCCULLOUGH

McCullough's NBA experience is limited because of the injury. He was able to recover in time during his rookie season to play in 24 games. He averaged 4.7 points and 2.8 rebounds when he averaged 15.1 minutes. This season, under a new coach, he only has played in 14 games and averaged just 5.1 minutes in 2.5 points and 1.2 rebounds before logging most of his action in the D-League.

"I’m going to try to do the little things, be the guy who hustles the most, diving on the floor for loose balls, anything to (help) my team win," McCullough said. "I like to run the floor, rebound. Hopefully John Wall throws me some (lobs). I’m ready for it."

Just turning 22, McCullough is the type of player the Wizards are willing to invest time in under coach Scott Brooks (see undrafted rookies Danuel House, Daniel Ochefu and Sheldon Mac). They were less likely to do it previously because then-coach Randy Wittman preferred proven veterans. 

Development is a major part of Brooks' lure.

"I did not know much about him. He has good size. Athletic, working on his outside shot," Brooks said. "He's a young, developing player. We don't know what he can be. But I know with myself and our staff, and how we approach all of our players, we're going to push him and demand that he keeps getting better and improving and see how far we can get him. It's not just a throw-in (for the trade). It's somebody we're going to see how good we can get him and we go from there."

McCullough sees himself developing into one of the league's most sought-after assets.

"Be a stretch four," he said. "I think I’m that now. ... I have no idea how good I’m going to be yet."

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Wizards' 2018-19 storyline No. 4: How will all the expiring contracts work out?

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USA Today

Wizards' 2018-19 storyline No. 4: How will all the expiring contracts work out?

With Wizards training camp set to begin next week, we at NBC Sports Washington are counting down the five biggest storylines for the team as they start a new season. Today, at No. 4, a look at the amount of expiring contracts on the roster and how those situations will work themselves out…

One way or another, what happens for the Wizards in the 2018-19 season will be determined in part by seven players operating in the final years of their contracts. That seven does not include Dwight Howard, who has a player option for the 2019-20 season worth just $5.6 million. If he’s lumped into that group, only the L.A. Clippers have more players entering walk years.

The Wizards players in their contract years include Markieff Morris, Kelly Oubre, Jr., Austin Rivers, Tomas Satoransky, Jeff Green, Jodie Meeks and Jason Smith. That will present a unique dynamic to the Wizards’ roster and it may affect guys differently.

Some may thrive, knowing how much money they stand to gain with a big year before free agency. Others may succumb to the pressure as they find their niche on a team with a lot of added depth at several positions.

Let’s start with Rivers. The challenge for him will be going through his contract year while taking a reduced role from what he was used to with the Clippers. Last season, he started in 59 games and averaged 33.7 minutes and 13.2 field goal attempts.

Now in Washington, Rivers has to play second fiddle to two All-Star guards in John Wall and Bradley Beal. The minutes and shot attempts will almost certainly go down in a year where he would understandably want all of his numbers to go up.

Green may also have a smaller role than what he was in Cleveland where he started 13 games and averaged 23.4 minutes. But this is his fourth straight year playing on an expiring contract and knows what he’s getting into. He should be fine.

Meeks and Smith are in an interesting spot because they are longtime NBA veterans who don’t have defined roles entering this season. They, of course, would like to put up good enough numbers to earn their next NBA contracts, but will have a tough time getting minutes.

Oubre and Satoransky are in unique spots because this is the first time in their careers they have played in contract years. Oubre, in particular, has a lot of money on the line as a former first round pick who is just 22 years old.

A big year for him could mean a lucrative contract next summer. He has seen how breakout seasons in walk years has helped Beal and Otto Porter, Jr. get paid and surely wants to follow that same career path. The Wizards would certainly welcome that type of emergence from Oubre, as he could drastically transform their ceiling as a team.

Satoransky, 26, is older than Oubre, but has intriguing potential based on his athleticism and versatility. The problem, however, is that recent history shows his minutes are anything but guaranteed.

Morris is in his own category among the Wizards’ expiring contracts because he’s 29 and probably facing his best opportunity for a long-term payday. Morris also has some money to recoup from taking a hometown discount from the Suns years ago, one that didn’t pay off as he hoped.

Howard, though technically under contract for 2019-20, is susceptible to the same factors as the others on expiring deals. If he puts up strong numbers and helps the Wizards succeed, he could opt out and cash in.

The Wizards are confident the expiring contracts will not be a detriment to their locker room. But in order for that to be the case, the players will need to compartmentalize and focus on the team’s goals rather than their own. For some, that might be easier said than done.

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5 things to know about Wizards training camp invitee Lavoy Allen

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USA TODAY Sports

5 things to know about Wizards training camp invitee Lavoy Allen

On Wednesday the Washington Wizards added a six-year NBA veteran Lavoy Allen to their list of training camp invitees. 

At 29, Allen comes to the Wizards after being picked up by the Capital City Go-Go in the G-league's expansion draft.

Here are five things to know about the newest Wizard:

1. Allen spent the last season in the G-league

Although he has spent six years in the NBA, he was not as fortunate during the 2017-18 season. Last year he was on the court with the Northern Arizona Suns and only played in 10 of the squad's 50 games.

Averaging 21 minutes of action, he scored nine points a game and grabbed just over six rebounds. 

The last NBA franchise he played on was the Indiana Pacers, who declined their team-option in 2017.

2. At 6-9, Allen Recorded 22 rebounds in an NBA game 

Allen's second year in the association was arguably the best of his career. Ascending as a rotational for the Philadelphia 76ers, Allen started a career-high 37 games during the 2012-13 season.

None of his starts were bigger for him than a February win over the Charlotte Bobcats when he brought down 22 rebounds, 11 of them on the offensive end. He also recorded 14 points on 7-for-16 shooting. 

3. He's the all-time leading rebounder in Temple history 

As one of the best Owls to ever suit up, Allen has etched his name in the Temple record books. With 1,147 boards there is not a single Owl that has more.

During his collegiate career Allen carried Temple to four NCAA Tournaments. He also holds the record for games started and rebounds in a single season at Temple.

4. Played in France for a season after being drafted by Philadelphia

Philadelphia was the team that took a chance on the talented forward/center. After getting selected 50th in the 2011 draft, Allen had to wait before he jumped onto an NBA court. Due to the lockout, Allen had to play in France for IG Strasbourg, until the labor dispute was over.

5. Wrote "Go Pacers" on the Cleveland Cavaliers' Quicken Loans Arena 

At first this seems like the ultimate sign of disrespect. Then you look at everyone else's scribble on the hardwood and it is less impressive.

Still not too many players have this as a headline during an NBA playoff game. Less than two months after this picture, he was out of job.

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