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Morning tip: What's Wizards' single biggest need?


Morning tip: What's Wizards' single biggest need?

To say there's one answer to what ails the Wizards, who are 10-14 entering Saturday's game with the Charlotte Hornets, is incorrect. It's never that simple.

Health is a major issue, but before they started down this path they Bradley Beal (leg) and Nene (calf) on the court.

The trade market will heat up and most names publicly linked with the Wizards will be misdirection. Who knows who will be available, so instead of specific names this is about the single greatest need. 

I've come up with three. Correcting them all by season's end will not happen. But a combination of getting some players back and making a move by the February trade deadline can possibly solve two of them.

Keep in mind that the Wizards only have 14 of the maximum 15 guaranteed contracts. Ryan Hollins is non-guaranteed until Jan. 10, so he can be released at any time between now and then without penalty under the cap to open a roster spot. Plus, they have a Traded Player Exception granted by the league for Martell Webster who was waived because of right hip surgery:

Perimeter defender: Just look at how opponents shoot from distance. The Wizards are last in field-goal accuracy allowed from 25-29 feet (42.4%). By comparison, the New York Knicks allow 24% which is best in the NBA. The Hornets are third at 28.3%. Two years ago, when the Wizards had Trevor Ariza as their best perimeter defender, they were third best allowing just 32.2%. Last year with Paul Pierce, they were middle of the pack at 33.7%.

Size inside: If center Marcin Gortat isn't on, or gets into foul trouble or has to leave for a personal matter like he did when he missed three games, who can be relied on? Hollins made a couple of starts in his absence but now is out of the rotation. DeJuan Blair is getting the call for the moment but he's undersized at 6-7 and his lateral movement isn't as good. Even when Nene returns, he'll probably miss time again based on his history.

Stretch four: This is a problem area because Kris Humphries, who has started most of the games as the power forward, isn't a three-point shooter though he can make one occasionally. And when he has to defend true stretch players like C.J. Miles of the Indiana Pacers he's even more out of sorts. Drew Gooden (calf) probably works best here but he hasn't been healthy all season so Jared Dudley, who is 6-7, gets the call. Dudley isn't athletic and recovering off of help defense to contest at the arc is problematic for him, too. So a player with Gooden's size and Dudley's IQ would work best but that's a tall order.

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

The 2018 NBA offseason in just three weeks has become one of the wildest summers in the league's history between LeBron James signing with the Lakers, and all the characters that followed him, to DeMarcus Cousins surprising everyone to sign with the Golden State Warriors, to Kawhi Leonard getting traded to the Raptors.

As crazy as it all has been, two teams in the Eastern Conference stand out for so far doing very little, either by choice or circumstance. The Celtics and Sixers, the two teams most see as the favorites in the East, appear at least so far to be running it back with the same group of players.

This appears to be the Celtics' intention. After overhauling their roster last summer, they clearly see an opportunity to take a step forward as-is. Boston was one win away from the NBA Finals and will return Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving from injury. With James gone to the West, they can improve significanly just by keeping it all together.

Boston re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes. Their biggest addition this summer so far has been their first round pick, Robert Williams.

The Sixers, unlike the Celtics, didn't appear to plan on doing it this way. They wanted James and missed out. They reportedly had interest in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, but both went elsewhere. There are no stars left to sign in free agency and the trade market may be drying up.

Philly made some minor moves like trades for Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala. They may also have a deal for Kyle Korver in the works. They also had two first round picks in Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet.

There's a chance the Sixers got better than people think, as many of the moves they made seem smart. But they didn't reel in a big fish and will probably come back for the 2018-19 season with a team very similar to the one that made the second round of the playoffs this spring.

The fact the Celtics and Sixers may stand pat is probably a good thing for the rest of the East. Both teams may improve naturally if they are healthier and if their young players continue to ascend. But neither made a game-changing addition, one that would solidify either as an unstoppable superteam in the conference. 

The West is overloaded with title contenders and All-NBA players. The East, meanwhile, is much more open and it may end up staying that way mainly because Boston and Philly have been quiet so far this summer.

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Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld has stayed relatively busy this summer crafting his new-look lineup for the 2018-19 season. 

One of the team's key additions, Dwight Howard, is set to be introduced as a member of the Wizards on Monday. 

NBC Sports Washington will air the introductory press conference live at 1 p.m. while also streaming it online.  

Ernie Grunfeld and head coach Scott Brooks are both expected to be in attendance. 

The 32-year-old big man is coming off a 2017-18 season with the Charlotte Hornets in which he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. 

Since leaving the Orlando Magic after eight seasons in 2011, Howard has played for four different teams in the last six years. 

Howard is an eight-time all-star and a three-time defensive player of the year. 



John Wall's take on Dwight Howard 

Wizards make Dwight Howard free agent signing official 

By the numbers: Is new Wizards center Dwight Howard still in his NBA prime?