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Morning tip: Morris takes matchups 'personal' with likes of Kristaps Porzingis

Morning tip: Morris takes matchups 'personal' with likes of Kristaps Porzingis

The difference that Markieff Morris makes for the Wizards, despite a record that suggests it's not big enough, can be seen in how he handled Kristaps Porzingis in the 119-112 win over the New York Knicks. He unnerved him just as he did Paul Millsap in their first win of the season over the Atlanta Hawks. 

The Wizards (3-8) don't have any issues defending stretch fours anymore because of Morris. Regardless of what his stat line read -- eight points on 4-for-11 shooting and eight rebounds against New York -- he's a much better option than Kris Humphries or Jared Dudley from year ago. 

"We needed this win bad so we came out and played like we needed it," Morris said. "Just be physical. Take it personal. Every time I step on the court, I'm taking it personal. I'm just not going to let guys go out there and do what they want to do agaisnt me. We needed this win bad and we got it."

At 6-10, Morris has enough size to defend the position under the basket against more physical fours and agile enough to step away from the rim on smaller ones. He also can flash the occasional three-point shot to spread out the opponents' defense.

Millsap had been a thorn in the Wizards' side for years, but Morris held him to 5-for-14 shooting when they won for the first time. Porzingis had scored 35 points the previous night for the Knicks, but that wasn't happening. 

Morris prevented Porzingis from getting the ball where he wanted, fighting him off the block for position and turning to his right shoulder. 

"I'm just playing the scouting report," Morris said. "He's a great player. He has a lot of different dimensions in his game. Quite hoenstly I'm just taking it personal. It's not going to be an easy matchup (for him)."

The Wizards dealt a first-round draft pick in 2016 to the Phoenix Suns for Morris, and it has been one well-spent. They went from being at the bottom of the table in rebounding last season when they were 41-41 to sixth. With Morris entrenched all of this season, the Wizards are no longer getting pounded inside.

"Point-blank, period, guarding Millsap, guarding those guys, he can guard one-on-one without us having to white (double team), leaving wide-open shooters," point guard John Wall said of Morris' value that doesn't always register in a boxscore. "He does a great job of just being physical with guys. When he's not getting in foul trouble he does a great job of staying between them and the basket."

When the Wizards went south in Philadelphia, a 109-102 loss to the league's worst team Wednesdady, Morris picked up two fouls in the first 54 seconds. When they made a run from 24 down, it was with Morris stretching to the three-point line to spark the comeback that fell short. 

The one player in the locker room who keeps a constant edge and doesn't hide it, Morris wasn't pleased with how the game ended. The Knicks scored 47 points in the fourth quarter to give themselves a chance in a game they trailed by as much as 27.

"We gave up 47 in the fourth? That's unacceptable," Morris said. "We're a lot better than that."

[RELATED: Takeaways from Wizards' blowout win vs. Knicks]

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Wizards add veteran Lavoy Allen to group of training camp invites


Wizards add veteran Lavoy Allen to group of training camp invites

The Wizards will have six-year NBA veteran Lavoy Allen in to compete for a roster spot in their 2018-19 training camp, his agency announced on Wednesday. NBC Sports Washington has confirmed the deal.

Allen, 29, joins three other players who received training camp invites. They include Tiwian Kendley, Chris Chiozza and Chasson Randle.

Randle’s rights were sent to the Capital City Go-Go in a July trade. Chiozza and Kendley caught on with the Wizards first during the Las Vegas Summer League before getting spots in training camp.

Allen’s rights were acquired by the Go-Go in the G-League expansion draft last month. A 6-foot-9 forward, Allen has played for the Sixers and Pacers at the NBA level. He holds career averages of 4.8 points and 3.6 rebounds in 388 total games.

Allen will push for a final roster spot, though the Wizards have more depth than they did at this time last year. Barring something unforeseen, they have 14 guys under contract in addition to their two two-way players, Devin Robinson and Jordan McRae.

Though the Wizards can keep a 15th player, they don’t have to by league rules. Last year, they opted to leave roster spots open for most of the season.

Regardless of whether he makes the NBA roster, Allen could be a solid option for the Go-Go as they begin their inaugural season.


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Jimmy Butler wants out of Minnesota but the Wizards are not on his shortlist

USA Today Sports

Jimmy Butler wants out of Minnesota but the Wizards are not on his shortlist

Just days before NBA training camps are set to begin, All-NBA guard Jimmy Butler is trying to force his way out of Minnesota.

The four-time All-Star has requested a trade from the Timberwolves and, according to ESPN, has given them a list of three preferred teams: the Knicks, Nets and Clippers.

That list is extra-pertinent because Butler has a player option after this upcoming season, and he is reportedly willing to sign a contract extension with any of those three.

That does not mean the Wolves will honor his request, but any team other than those three that trades for him will be at risk of losing him after one year. That risk worked out well for the Thunder this past year in their trade for Paul George, but every situation is different.

Butler’s list tells us a few things about his priorities. For one, he wants to play in a major market. New York and L.A. are the top two markets in the NBA. To that point, it’s interesting he has omitted the Lakers.

For those wondering if the Wizards would be a fit, those factors would seemingly work against them retaining him beyond one season. Though D.C. is a big market, it’s not L.A. or New York. And Butler would not be the clear star in Washington with two All-Stars in John Wall and Bradley Beal already in place.

That is all beyond what the Wizards would have to give up for Butler. Though he’s not quite Kawhi Leonard, the return probably wouldn’t be far off. The Raptors had to give up DeMar DeRozan, a perennial All-NBA selection, among other pieces. The Thunder had to part with Victor Oladipo in their package for George and that has since proven to be a steep price.

Maybe the Wizards could offer Otto Porter, Jr. and/or some combination of draft picks and young, emerging players. But it would be a hefty price given the risk of him potentially leaving, and though Butler is very good, he’s not as young or as good as Leonard, for comparison.

To give up the farm in a trade, that player better make his new team significantly better. It’s questionable if Butler could do that for the Wizards.

The Wizards have done their due diligence in checking in on George, Leonard and others who have become available in recent years. It would not be surprising if they make a call for Butler, but as of now not enough adds up to make it a perfect match.