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Morning tip: Inside presence with Marcin Gortat keeps Wizards' options open

Morning tip: Inside presence with Marcin Gortat keeps Wizards' options open

The inside game has been missing with the Wizards for months, and it wasn't until recently that coach Scott Brooks made a concerted effort to get Marcin Gortat the early post touch in each half. 

Thursday, he shot 7-for-7 and finished with 16 points in a 106-103 win at the New York Knicks as John Wall fed him. Gortat aggressively went at Marshall Plumlee on that first possession, sank the turnaround jump shot and it was a smooth night. His seven field goals were the most he'd made since Feb. 10 vs. the Indiana Pacers.

"I'm looking probably at two, three, four shots a game," said Gortat about the games when he's not involved immediately in the offense. "Coach tried to get me going early. We all know if we have an inside game we definitely don’t have to worry about the outside game because John and Brad (Beal) are going to take care of that."

Wall and Beal combined for 49 points. Beal had the final five points to break open a score that was tied at 101 and 103 in the final minute.

Gortat has had tough sledding since the All-Star break. His last double-double came during an overtime win at the Portland Trail Blazers on March 11. It was just his fourth game scoring in double figures since March 3.

And despite being in sync with Wall, Gortat only grabbed three rebounds. The Knicks pounded them 20-9 on the offensive glass.

With Markieff Morris (foot) being out, the Wizards had to establish a post presence with somebody. Brooks went away from those early touches to Gortat because he wanted more movement in the offense, feeling that the Wizards became bogged down with isos and post-ups.

Morris and Gortat don't finish at a high percentage on those plays, but at times they have matchup advantages they'll need to exploit more. The game plan is likely to change often to cut down on predictabliity with seven-game playoff series on tap. 

Gortat played some of his best defensive basketball in a long time in the second half of a comeback win over the Charlotte Hornets earlier in the week. He'll have a few more games to right himself.

[RELATED: VIDEO: Beal hits big 3, high-fives Wizards fan in New York]

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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. 



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? 

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Carmelo Anthony traded to Hawks in three-team deal, but not likely to stay

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Carmelo Anthony traded to Hawks in three-team deal, but not likely to stay

The stage has been set for Carmelo Anthony to hit free agency, as the 10-time All-Star was traded to the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday in a three-team deal, one that will lead to a subsequent buyout of his contract. ESPN first reported the news and noted that the Rockets are the favorites to sign him.

The full deal sends Dennis Schroder from the Hawks to the Thunder in exchange for Anthony and a protected first-round pick, and sends Mike Muscala from Atlanta to Philly. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot will go to the Thunder from Philly and Justin Anderson will go from the Sixers to the Hawks.

That's a complicated deal, but it ultimately frees Anthony up to choose a new team. He was set to make $27.9 million from the Thunder next season, but the Hawks are footing the bill to let him walk.

Anthony's skills have declined now that he's 34 years old. Last season, he averaged 16.2 points on 40.4 percent shooting, way down from the 22.4 points he averaged the season before with the Knicks.

Still, Anthony could help a team looking for a scoring punch and the Rockets would like some more help in their quest to take down the Warriors. If he signs there, he will join friend Chris Paul and the 2017-18 MVP, James Harden. 

Houston has been the logical landing spot for Anthony ever since news broke that the Thunder were looking for a way out of his contract. If he doesn't go there, perhaps the Lakers would make sense. LeBron James is going to need a lot more help than the roster he currently has around him to make some noise in the crowded Western Conference.