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Morning tip: Kelly Oubre likely will spend time defending Kyrie Irving

Morning tip: Kelly Oubre likely will spend time defending Kyrie Irving

Whenever the Cleveland Cavaliers would be in need of a bucket vs. the Wizards, they'd run pick-and-rolls with Kyrie Irving and LeBron James to force switches that would get them both in favorable positions and in space for high-percentage looks. 

It would result in one of those two having Jared Dudley in front of them to beat.

But that was so 2015-16 season.

The Wizards (30-20) already have a 6-10, more athletic Markieff Morris there as the starter to give them a better chance. They also will have the 7-2 wingspan of Kelly Oubre, who has emerged in his second year, to give them a unique look when the two teams face off on Monday night at Verizon Center.

Oubre usually takes the floor late in the first quarter as the small forward while starter Otto Porter shifts to the "stretch" forwards. He'll also find hmself cross-matched against point guards by the fourth quarter. 

The latter is a strategy that Washington used in a 15-point win over the Boston Celtics when the NBA's leading scorer in the fourth, Isaiah Thomas, was held to one field goal. At 6-7, Oubre has the length and athleticism to bother guards and force them to finish tougher shots. And if he ends up switched onto the stronger James, he won't cede ground in the post. 

"Sometimes on defense, when they don't have their other main guys in. I'll not take a break but just get a little more rest," said John Wall, who'll assume an easier assignment while Oubre focuses on defending  the point guard. "We use it at times. But in the game I want to be on those guys. I'm one of those point guards that likes to go against the point guards to make it a matchup.  

"Not to say it's a one-on-one but at times we usually switch it up. A lot of good teams do that. That's why you've got defensive stoppers."

Irving scored a game-high 29 in a 104-95 win on Nov. 11 at Verizon Center. It's just one of six home losses.

They won't be able to shut down everyone, but the Wizards can't allow Irving and James to be effective simultaneously. If they can take away one of the Big Two, chances are Oubre will have something to do with it. 

RELATED: IAN MANHINMI EXCITED TO 'BE A PART OF THIS STORY'

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Jordan McRae feels more comfortable ahead of Year 2 in Washington

Jordan McRae feels more comfortable ahead of Year 2 in Washington

WASHINGTON -- Wizards guard Jordan McRae made his way around the parish hall of St. Francis Xavier in Southeast Washington slowly, stopping to greet kids one-by-one and bending his 6-foot-7 frame down to take pictures and shake hands. He handed out bags of school supplies to underprivileged youth that said 'work hard, play hard.' He told them each "good luck in school."

It was a day McRae got to do something he feels like he could have done more of last year. He was giving back to the D.C. community and helping out with a cause he believes in. Last season, when he played through the uncertainty of a two-way contract, he didn't have a real chance to lay down roots in the Washington area.

But now back for a second year with the Wizards, and with an NBA contract and a possible rotation spot to seize, McRae feels a new sense of comfort in D.C. Though he has been in town for a year, now it is home.

"Since being in the NBA, this is probably the best opportunity I've gotten," he told NBC Sports Washington.

"Last year, it was tough. It was different from what I've been through before, just the unknown. Not knowing was the hardest part."

McRae, 28, came to the Wizards last summer after rehabbing a shoulder injury and playing overseas. But he had two years of NBA experience under his belt, including a championship ring from the 2015-16 season with the Cavaliers.

At the time, a two-way contract made sense for McRae. He had to prove he was healthy and needed a team to take a flier on him. The Wizards did, but they couldn't offer McRae much of an opportunity to play. They were entering another year with high expectations and had loaded up on veteran players in the offseason.

Things, of course, didn't go as planned for the Wizards but McRae didn't exactly benefit from the turmoil and roster turnover. He spent much of his time in the G-League, appearing in more games with the Go-Go (31) than he did with the Wizards (27). 

That was partly because late in the season McRae was close to maxing out the 45 days his two-way contract allowed him to spend at the NBA level. The Wizards had financial incentive to keep him in the G-League and in the final weeks of the season, when the two-way clock was no longer an issue, he suffered an Achilles strain that ended his season a few days early.

McRae felt like he showed the Wizards what he is capable of in his relatively brief time on the floor, but is looking forward to a more extended opportunity this season. 

"I'm a person who can play multiple spots. I can be on the court with Brad [Beal] or without Brad," McRae said. 

"I'm just looking forward to it. The opportunity is there. This is what you work for all summer, this type of opportunity."

There could be an opening for McRae at back-up shooting guard. The Wizards didn't address that position specifically this offseason like they did a year ago by trading for Austin Rivers. McRae may be their best option behind Beal.

It also may be the ideal spot for McRae, whose best attribute is scoring. He led the G-League last season with 30.3 points per game and showed some flashes at the NBA level as well. He scored 20 points or more twice and dropped 15 points in eight minutes against the Cavs on Jan. 29 when the Wizards nearly stole a victory after the benches were emptied in a lopsided game.

McRae can get buckets quickly. He can also play some point guard, which should come in handy this season as the Wizards play without All-Star John Wall for at least several months. They are also resting hopes on Isaiah Thomas as one of their top two point guards and he only played 12 games last season.

The Wizards' roster is in transition and it may not yield many wins in the 2019-20 season. The Westgate sportsbook set their over/under at 28.5 wins. That is about 10 short of playoff contention, even in down years in the lesser Eastern Conference.

It could work out well for McRae, though, as he could get much more playing time. He is excited about that possibility and also the style shift they hope to undergo as dictated by managing partner Ted Leonsis and general manager Tommy Sheppard.

"We're gonna be young and obviously we have to change up our style," McRae said. "We want to be one of those teams where teams don't want to play, a team that you know they're diving for loose balls, playing hard and playing fast."

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Two-time Wizard, three-time NBA champion announces retirement after 15 seasons

Two-time Wizard, three-time NBA champion announces retirement after 15 seasons

Former Wizards' guard Shaun Livingston announced his retirement from the NBA after 15 seasons on Friday morning.  

The former Wizard shared the news via Twitter and Instagram posts. 

Livingston expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to play in the league. 

“After 15 years in the NBA, I’m excited, sad, fortunate and grateful all in one breath. Hard to put into a caption all of the emotions it takes to try and accomplish your dreams. I wasn’t supposed to be here. Anybody that has beat the odds understands the mental and emotional strain it takes to inspire yourself on an uphill war, let alone inspire others. “The injury” gave me a chance to find and prove to myself (and the world) that I wouldn’t be defined by my circumstances. With my time in the League what I will be most proud of is the fact that my character, values, and faith were tested, and I persevered.” 

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After 15 years in the NBA, I’m excited, sad, fortunate and grateful all in one breath. Hard to put into a caption all of the emotions it takes to try and accomplish your dreams. I wasn’t supposed to be here. Anybody that has beat the odds understands the mental and emotional strain it takes to inspire yourself on an uphill war, let alone inspire others. “The injury” gave me a chance to find and prove to myself (and the world) that I wouldn’t be defined by my circumstances. With my time in the League what I will be most proud of is the fact that my character, values and faith were tested, and I persevered. To my pops that told me to “go get the big ball” I THANK YOU. To my Grandpa that always showed me there was more to life than basketball I THANK YOU. To my Uncles that helped raise me like I was one of their own, THANK YOU. To my wife and kids...the future IS BRIGHTER than our past, and I couldn’t see myself taking on this chapter without you. To all of my teammates, coaches, TRAINERS, staff, my journey is a collection of experiences, and those of you that helped me along the way, THANK YOU! To all the fans and anybody else that inspired me, supported me, cheered for me, or even said good words about me, THANK YOU. “The greatest gift we can give is service to others” #Raiseaglass 🍷

A post shared by Shaun Livingston (@sdot1414) on

Livingston entered the league right out of high school. He was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2004 NBA draft by the Los Angeles Clippers. 

In 2007, as a member of the Clippers, he suffered a horrific knee injury, one of the most grotesque in NBA history. He returned a year and a half later, as a member of the Miami Heat but played in just four games.

He played for the Wizards on two separate occasions.

The first was in 2010 when he joined the Wizards in February and played in 26 games, starting 18. He signed a two-year deal with the Charlotte Bobcats that offseason, playing in 72 games in 2010-11 before being traded that offseason to the Milwaukee Bucks. A year later, he was traded to the Houston Rockets, but was waived before the start of the 2012-2013 season.

The second time was in November 2012, when the Wizards signed Livingston again, playing in 17 games and starting four before being waived in December of that year.

Livingston made five straight NBA Finals appearances and won three championships with the Warriors (2014-2019). 

Over 833 career games, Livingston averaged 6.3 points, 3 assists, and 2.4 rebounds per game.  

Wizards star, Bradley Beal shared his support for Livingston commenting “S Dot! It was a pleasure my guy!” 

Congratulations to Livingston on a successful career and good luck on his future endeavors! 

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