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Morning tip: Jason Smith's injury is a big deal for Wizards

Morning tip: Jason Smith's injury is a big deal for Wizards

Just as Jason Smith started to play his best basketball off the bench for the Wizards, making both of his shot attempts in a 122-108 win over the Detroit Pistons, he limped off the court after a collision. He's questionable going into today's game vs. the L.A. Clippers.

Smith appeared to bump knees but it turns out it was a right hamstring injury. That's better than the worst-case scenario from a 30-year-old who has had a history of knee injuries. The last one came in 2014. He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee to end his 2008-09 season before it began. 

Overall, the bench has played so much better and it goes beyond the 30 points they combined to score led by Marcus Thornton's 11 vs. Detroit. They're maintaining leads and even extending them. They're getting quality looks in the half-court and not heaving up prayers to beat the shot clock. That includes Smith on the pick-and-pop action.

“Unfortunately Jason tweaked his hamstring. Don't know how long that will be. We'll see how it feels," said coach Scott Brooks after Friday's game. "We'll wait to the next day to really see how he feels and we'll go from there but I think our bench is doing a good job. We're still missing Ian (Mahinmi) but I think Trey (Burke) is finding a nice little roll. Marcus has done a good job. Kelly (Oubre) is really growing up in front of our eyes and that's what you want your young players to do. By challenging him every day. We're going to keep doing that, you're going to see growth. There is going to be spikes and there is going to be a little dropoffs. We're going to try to eliminate those dropoffs as much as can and just keep him growing and becoming a better defensive player. I think his offense is going to get better.”

Mahinmi, Brooks indicated before Friday's game, hasn't practiced with the Wizards and they'll have to see him do that before he has any chance to return from tendinitis in his right knee. They didn't practice Saturday which means Mahinmi won't play Sunday. If they do not have Smith, who at 7-0 is a forward/center, that could force rookie Daniel Ochefu into the rotation unless Brooks opts to go with  more small llineups. Starting center Marcin Gortat already is playing a career-high 35.4 minutes per game. Kelly Oubre (concussion) is out, too.

Smith's mid-range shot has started come come along. He was 5-for-9 for a season-high 12 points and seven rebounds in Wedneday's 109-106 win over the Charlotte Hornets. 

[RELATED: ALL-STAR CONVERSATION INCLUDES WALL, BEAL]

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Frustration reportedly boils over in recent incidents at Wizards practice

Frustration reportedly boils over in recent incidents at Wizards practice

Following a report by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on Monday morning about the possibility that every member of the Wizards' roster, including stars John Wall and Bradley Beal, could be available in a potential trade with the right suitor, more followed Monday -- this time about frustration boiling over in practice.

Prior to the publication of Monday afternoon's reports, Bradley Beal addressed the day's earlier reports when speaking with the media.

“I mean, I’m not going to be naïve to it, you know,” Beal said. “I have a phone just like everybody else does. There were rumors weeks ago. Then, I didn’t buy into them. Now, I’m still not going to buy into them because if that’s my main priority and focus then I’m going to be messed up on the floor.”

As reports continued to swirl Monday, forward Kelly Oubre appeared to allude to the situation on Twitter.

A spokesperson for the Wizards declined to comment on the reports.

The Wizards return to the court to face the Clippers on Tuesday at Capital One Arena.

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John Wall and Bradley Beal trade rumors show Wizards are exploring all options

John Wall and Bradley Beal trade rumors show Wizards are exploring all options

The mounting losses and the hapless nature of those defeats has the 5-11 Washington Wizards entering new territory, a place the franchise has not been in years. The team's steadfast plan of building around John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr. may be nearing its end. 

The time has come to at least consider something drastic.

That means, at least according to ESPN, essentially everyone on the Wizards’ roster is available in trades. That includes both Wall and Beal, two All-Stars who are just 28 and 25, respectively.

This would be a departure from their recent stance of withholding Beal, in particular, in talks for available stars like Jimmy Butler. But sensing the current roster may have run its course, the Wizards are exploring their options.

There is added urgency in the money they have committed. The Wizards have the sixth-highest payroll in the NBA and are due to pay about $12.4 million in luxury tax, according to Spotrac.com.

The Wizards’ thoughts of trading either Wall or Beal are very preliminary, according to a person familiar with the situation. This being out there simply lets other teams know they will listen.

Despite the whirlwind of reports, any major deal would likely take a long time to orchestrate. The Wizards would likely take months to lay the groundwork, even if matters get worse on the court. 

When you have two players as good as Wall or Beal, a good return needs to be guaranteed in a trade. Plus, both players have demonstrated over the years they can put on a good face through times of turmoil.

It’s also worth pointing out that this does not mean a rebuild is imminent. They aren’t close to being there yet. 

With two All-Stars in their 20s, the Wizards would first try to retool around them. And if they do trade one, that doesn’t mean they are also trading the other. Reactionary moves are not in the Wizards' nature.

As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski notes, the Wizards would prefer to first trade others on the roster, but so far have not received enticing offers for Porter, Kelly Oubre Jr., Markieff Morris and the like. The ideal option would be to trade one of them and give the new-look roster time to adjust before next steps are taken. They have forward depth and could replace any of those three in the short-term.

Porter, though, has a sizable contract. He’s owed about $81 million over the next three seasons. Though he’s only 25 and one of the game’s best three-point shooters, that is a lot of money to take on for a player who has yet to make an All-Star team.

Morris, meanwhile, is struggling this season. Oubre is having a solid year, but is due to hit free agency after this season and won’t be cheap to re-sign.

Beal is by far the Wizards’ most attractive trade asset, given he’s a young All-Star and due $81 million the next three seasons, a relatively modest price given his ability and today’s market.

Wall, on the other hand, has a supermax extension worth $169 million that doesn’t kick in until next year. He is set to become one of the highest-paid players in the NBA and will be owed $40 million-plus per season into his 30s.

That doesn’t mean Wall couldn’t be traded, if the Wizards choose that route. Several teams in particular stand out as logical fits. There are the Lakers, who will need to give LeBron James some better teammates at some point to compete for his fourth championship ring.

Wall has the same agent as James and would add a second All-Star to the Lakers’ rebuild. If they pulled in a third star, like Kawhi Leonard or Anthony Davis, they would be in business.

Two other teams that make sense, if the Wizards decide to trade Wall, would be the Phoenix Suns and the Orlando Magic. Both have stacked top draft picks in recent years, but are in desperate need of a point guard.

Beal could conceivably field offers from half the league. An All-Star at his age and at his price is something most teams could use. He has zero character concerns and his game is compatible with anyone. He hits threes, is effective off-the-ball and plays defense.

The biggest question through all of this is how the Wizards’ front office would factor in. If they want to make wholesale changes, owner Ted Leonsis has to first determine who will be making those decisions. If shuffling the front office is at all an option he’s considering, that has to be weighed in the timing of any major moves.

The Wizards are a ways away from pulling the trigger on a major trade, but the seeds are being planted in case their situation gets even worse.

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