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Morning tip: Kris Humphries loses edge to chase rebounds


Morning tip: Kris Humphries loses edge to chase rebounds

The returns have been diminishing with Kris Humphries, even though he's now a starter with the Wizards as he struggles to reprogram his way of thinking. What he's best at -- rebounding -- has been largely absent heading into tonight's game vs. the San Antonio Spurs (CSN, CSNmidatlantic.com and NBC Sports Live Extra, 6:30 p.m. ET). 

"He needs to crash the boards," coach Randy Wittman said after Tuesday's practice. "There's no in-between. The four (power forward) and five (center) can crash the boards no matter where they're at."

After three games, Humphries has a total of 12 rebounds for a 4.0 average. The result has been after playing 26 minutes in the opener, he has been limited to 14 and 15 minutes in each of the last two games. In his first season with the Wizards a year ago when coming off the bench, Humphries averaged 6.5 rebounds.

The reason: In the newly arranged offense, designed by Wittman to increase pace and incorporating a "stretch" power forward, Humphries is staying on the perimeter to shoot threes. Since turning pro in 2004, Humphries has never played around the arc. He's 2-for-5 on three-pointers this season. That equals the makes he had from long range in his career.

"Didn't feel good (Saturday) night," Humphries said of being out of sync in a 117-110 home-opening loss to the New York Knicks. "We lost, that's the first thing. The flow. I think sometimes I get caught on the perimeter watching. Got to get in there and mix it up.

"If you're on the perimeter and you're not used to being out there, you're used to being in there and mixing it up with people, gives you energy and stuff like that. ... You got to get yourself going."

Drew Gooden has come off the bench and took a large share of the minutes. He hasn't shied away from getting in the trenches to do the dirty work. He had a double-double with 11 rebounds in Saturday's loss. He has outrebounded Humphries, too (19-12).

"We worked on a lot of times in the game, I was the last guy down at the top of key and I didn't feel comfortable going to the (offensive) boards from there," Humphries said of what he has been the emphasis with him at practice the last few days. "Being the last guy and not feeling we're going to get back, but today we really made an emphasis of one through three (point guard, shooting guard, small forward) getting back on defense and four and five going to the glass. See if that helps a little bit.

"I'll feel more comfortable if someone drives. I kind of feel like I'm out of the play (otherwise), being able to go in there, try to track a rebound or something like that."

Told of Humphries' comments that he feels a need to rush back on defense and play safety valve, Wittman said that's a mental block that he has to overcome.

"He don't need to be. That's my concern," Wittman said. "He's out on the perimeter a lot more but that's sometimes the easiest time to get an offensive rebound. We can't lose sight of that fact. You don't get hit. People don't try to block you out. Drew has done a good job of that. It's easy to sit there and watch it rather than go attack it from that position. He's got to keep that in mind."


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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.