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Morning tip: Scott Brooks' methods are welcomed change for Wizards

Morning tip: Scott Brooks' methods are welcomed change for Wizards

The harmony at the practice court can not only be heard and seen, but it can be felt. The Wizards are vibing at a level like never before -- including their two playoff seasons when they advanced to the conference semifinals -- and Scott Brooks is the conductor who has them all in tune. 

Tonight they'll try to extend their home winning streak to 15 games vs. the N.Y. Knicks, who they've already beaten twice this season. 

The atmosphere at Verizon Center has done an 180-degree turn after a 2-8 start, now that the Wizards are 25-12 since then. The atmosphere behind the scenes has shifted, too, because no matter the spoken word, the body language doesn't lie. 

"The players have been around me for some time now. They're going to always get the same consistent approach whether we win a game or lose a game," said Brooks, who has his team fifth in the East and two games in the loss column from the No. 2 spot. "When we lose a game we're not going to change things up and just throw everything out the door because we feel that we have to. With our guys they understand that our system is in place. We want to tinker with it. We want to add to it. I'm not going to be so stubborn just to keep everything the same but we work every day. I've always done it. I have to be smart enough to realize on days like today, 35 to 40 minutes of good work is enough to get better. You just cant relax after a win. We don't. That's been a big part of our success recently."

Brooks, in his first season in Washington, said plenty. He wasn't referencing anything in the recent past, but among the biggest negatives with the previous coaching staff during a 41-41 season was the helter-skelter style. Then-coach Randy Wittman was constantly switching, or what he called "simplifying" defensive coverages, based on the latest results. 

Even though they had the same starting five players, the production was down across the board. Brooks kept Monday's workout short and sweet whereas three-hour practices were the norm for John Wall who needed surgeries to both knees because of the wear and tear. And Bradley Beal repeatedly had overuse stress reactions in his lower right leg. On top of all that, the roster was much older at the time and they likely were leaving their best pereformances on the practice court.

"He understands situations for us, if we need rest, if he needs to step on the gas for us," Wall said of Brooks' coaching style. "All the other coaches do a great of giving us the scouting report, giving us game plans. ... They're pushing us in our drills and not letting us take plays off and days off."

[RELATED: Wizards respond to Brooks' 4th-quarter adjustments]

Now the leader, Wall respected the Wizards' veterans but did grow agitated when some of them took off drills in practice while he gutted them out despite loose bodies and bone spurs in both knees 

Earlier in the season, Marcin Gortat, who clashed with Wittman at every turn, had this to say about Brooks' staff which includes lead assistant Tony Brown, Sidney Lowe, Maz Trakh, Chad Iske and Mike Terpstra, to CSNmidatlantic.com: "They have a different way of communication with us. They have more patience with us. They work with us as a single units. They take us on the side. Each coach is responsible for certain players and we communicate a lot. Our level of commnication is much better, much higher. ... Most important is they're not trying to change up every game. We stick to pretty much one coverage for most of the time. The schemes we have a pretty much the same which is great. We don't have to ask queustions. We know what we got to do in certain situations." 

The result: All of the Wizards starters are having standout seasons. In most cases, they're posting career-highs such as Gortat in rebounds (11.4) and field-goal shooting (59.2%); Wall in points (22.9), assists (10.3), steals (2.2) and field-goal accuracy (46.5%); Beal in points (21.8), Otto Porter in points (14.4), rebounds (6.6) and field-goal (53.5%) and three-point accuracy (46.8%) and Markieff Morris in rebounds (6.7) and three-point shooting (35.3%). 

Brooks has sat down with Wall and showed him where he's not made the right plays or lacked the effort needed on the defensive end. He has emphasized to Morris to give better efforts when closing out shooters at the arc and improving his long-range shot. He has altered the offense that's not as pick-and-roll heavy, taken his four-time All-Star Wall off the ball some, put Beal on the ball more,and  incorporated more flex action and motion to maximize everyone's skill set and a layer of unpredictability.

"We just don't want to be John-centric. We want to make sure everybody is involved," Brooks said. "When you have a great player like John you want to utilize his abilities to get to the bucket, create offense off of his speed and his toughness and his layup-making ability. But you have a lot of good players around him. You want to utilize them because the game of basketball everybody has to be involved otherwise you're going to have problems. You're going to have disinterested players on the defensive end but when you get everybody touching the ball offensively your defense, it's human nature, it spikes up."

In the first year of a five-year, $35 million deal, Brooks is the Wizards' top offseason acqusition. And based on the direction the team is headed, that pricetage continues to be a bargain. 

[RELATED: With Mahinmi on mend, Wizards aren't in a rush with trade deadline approaching]

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Elena Delle Donne the favorite to win WNBA MVP, according to league GMs

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Elena Delle Donne the favorite to win WNBA MVP, according to league GMs

Washington Mystics forward Elena Delle Donne is one of the best players in the WNBA, and thus is always in the discussion for MVP honors. 

And heading into the 2019 season, league GMs give her the best chance of anyone to actually hoist the trophy when it's all said and done. 

In a WNBA.com survey of general managers, 42 percent picked Delle Donne to win MVP in 2019. Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury had the second-most votes at 25 percent, followed by A’ja Wilson of Las Vegas Aces at 17 percent then Las Vegas' Liz Cambage and Jonquel Jones of the Connecticut Sun at eight percent. 

Delle Donne won her first and only WNBA MVP award in 2015 as a member of the Chicago Sky when she averaged a career-high 23.4 points per game. And with the Mystics set to make another run at the WNBA title (58 percent of GMs predicted Washington to have the most regular season wins in the Eastern Conference), she has a great opportunity to get her second this season. 


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Explained: What is an NBA supermax contract and how does it work?

Explained: What is an NBA supermax contract and how does it work?

As All-NBA teams are announced and franchises have to make decisions about contract extensions, fans will see the term "supermax contract" thrown around a lot. 

Here's a quick primer with everything you need to know about the NBA's most lucrative player deals. 

What is a supermax contract?

Officially known as the "Designated Veteran Player Extension," this rule allows teams to re-sign qualified players to maximum five-year contracts worth up to 35 percent of the salary cap with eight percent escalation in each subsequent year.

The length of the supermax deal depends on the player's years of NBA experience and years remaining on his current contract. 

  • A qualified player who has completed seven or eight years of service and has two years left on his contract is eligible for a four-year supermax (keeping the player with the same team for a total of six seasons)
  • A qualified player who has completed seven or eight years of service and has one year left on his contract is eligible for a five-year supermax (keeping the player with the same team for a total of six seasons)
  • A qualified free agent who has completed eight or nine years of service is eligible for a five-year supermax 

Furthermore, teams cannot trade a supermax player for the first year after he signs the contract.  

How much is a supermax contract worth?

Valued up to 35 percent of the salary cap in the initial year and subject to eight percent escalation in each subsequent year, these deals are mammoth money.

For example, the Wizards signed John Wall to a four-year supermax in the summer of 2017 when he had two years left on his contract. The supermax money begins in 2019-20 and pays Wall $38.15 million that year. With annual escalations, his supermax is worth $170.912 million over the four-year lifetime of the deal. 

According to a report by Yahoo's Chris Haynes, Damian Lillard—who has two years remaining on his current deal with the Trail Blazers and is expected to be named to an All-NBA team—will be offered a four-year supermax extension worth roughly $191 million this summer. 

Who is eligible to sign a supermax contract?

Very few players qualify for a supermax contract. First, only a player that has (or will have) completed eight years of NBA service by the end of his current contract is eligible to sign a supermax deal, which can only be offered by the team that drafted him or traded for his rookie contract. 

Then, a player must meet one of the following three criteria.

  • Be named to an All-NBA team in the most recent season or both seasons before it
  • OR, be named NBA Defensive Player of the Year in the most recent season or both seasons before it
  • OR, be named NBA MVP in any of the three previous seasons

Which players have received supermax contracts?

  • Stephen Curry - Golden State Warriors
  • James Harden - Houston Rockets
  • Russell Westbrook - Oklahoma City Thunder
  • John Wall - Washington Wizards

Who could receive a supermax contract this summer?

Anthony Davis is already eligible for a supermax offer from the Pelicans. And depending on the All-NBA, DPOY and MVP selections, the following players also could receive supermax offers:

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo - Milwaukee Bucks
  • Damian Lillard - Portland Trail Blazers
  • Klay Thompson - Golden State Warriors
  • Kemba Walker - Charlotte Hornets
  • Andre Drummond - Detroit Pistons
  • Bradley Beal - Washington Wizards 

What are the drawbacks to supermax deals?

The supermax contract was designed to help teams retain their players by allowing them to offer significantly more money than the competition; however, teams that offer such contracts are squeezing themselves in terms of salary cap room to fill out their rosters. 

No franchise can carry more than two supermax players at 35 percent of the cap each. Functionally, though, it's difficult for a team to have more than one.

Two supermax players would account for 70 percent of a team's salary in any given year, leaving the club virtually unable to sign a competitive supporting cast.