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Morning tip: Wizards could be running out of time to turn around season

Morning tip: Wizards could be running out of time to turn around season

After the Denver Nuggets left Verizon Center the last time, Jared Dudley slammed the door shut in the locker room to hold a players-only meeting for the Wizards. 

His message at that time, to paraphrase: We've got to help each other because they aren't going to do it.

By "they," Dudley was referring to the coaching staff led by Randy Wittman, who was fired after a 41-41 season that was contentious early and often as the Wizards struggled just to get to .500.

The Wizards were 20-24 and hemorraghing points. They hadn't acquired Markieff Morris in a trade, and Dudley was the starting stretch power forward logging more minutes than he anticipated and unable to defend starters at his position one-on-one. 

RELATED: Film study: Defensive collapse in Magic loss

Today, the Wizards are 7-13 and coming off a demoralizing loss to the Orlando Magic on Tuesday, 124-116, after John Wall's career-high 52 points. A lot of the personnel has changed and problems are the same, but the attitudes towards the coaching staff appear to have shifted180 degrees.

Scott Brooks has his work cut out for him as he has mixed and matched his lineups repeatedly and has yet to find sustained success with a bench that's limited on both ends of the floor. His stars, Wall and Bradley Beal, are playing heavy minutes. So is his oldest player, Marcin Gortat, at 32. How much more bending can be done until something breaks?

“We have to be able to sustain the sense of urgency, possession by possession, we haven't been able to do that," Brooks said Monday. "Our guys need to come out better with the defensive disposition, of just being solid with understanding the principles of guarding your man, understanding the principles of contesting the shot, and also understanding the principles of blocking out. We've all learned that from the day we started playing, but we have to be able to do that consistently throughout the game to give us the best chance to win."

Offensively challenged teams such as the Magic have hurt them all season. The Philadelphia 76ers scored 109 in a win, minus Joel Embiid and with Jahlil Okafor playing on a minutes restriction. The five-win Brooklyn Nets dropped in 113 in a loss. The Miami Heat scored a season-high 114 in a victory. The New York Knicks scored 112, and 47 of those points were allowed in the fourth quarter alone. The Magic had 40 in the second quarter to blow Monday's game open. 

“The 40 points in the second quarter, it's unacceptable," Brooks said. "Offensively, 116 points on your home court, you should not lose that game, and we've done that a few times now.” 

After a stretch of games vs. the likes ot the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs twice, games like tonight's with the Nuggets should end up in the win colum if the Wizards hope to be in contention for a playoff seed.

That was everyone's feeling coming into the season, including Brooks. The quarter pole will be here with 21 games played following Thursday's game. 

MORE WIZARDS: Was John Wall right to call out his teammates?

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John Wall embracing role as assistant coach during injury rehab

John Wall embracing role as assistant coach during injury rehab

WASHINGTON -- John Wall has already made enough money during his basketball career to last a lifetime and his new supermax contract worth $170 million is just kicking in. When he is done playing in the NBA, he doesn't have to do anything at all if he doesn't want to.

But there is at least a small part of Wall that believes coaching could be in his future. He loves the game enough to not rule out the possibility.

This year will give him a taste of what being a coach is all about. While he rehabs his ruptured left Achilles, he will serve as an unofficial assistant to head coach Scott Brooks. Wall will be asked to break down film with players, advise on plays to run and help the team's young point guards in practice.

Wall isn't sure as of today whether he wants to coach when his playing days are over. But he may have an answer in just a few months.

"I think this year will tell me whether I can be a coach or not," Wall told NBC Sports Washington on the Wizards Talk podcast. 

"I think you have to have a lot of patience and you've gotta know how to interact with every player. Every player's attitudes and character and mood swings are totally different. I learned from when a coach tried to coach me when I was young and I wasn't the guy to coach."

Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard envisions Wall as an important part of the locker room, even when he isn't playing. Part of his role may include some tough conversations with players. As Sheppard says, Wall may be able to deliver some messages that resonate more from a peer than if they came from a coach. 

Wall knows he can help in that regard. He has long been a vocal presence for the Wizards and had to assume the role as a team leader at an early age. After coming in as the No. 1 overall pick, he was a franchise player from the time he was 19 years old.

Wall's personality may also lend itself to those duties. He is very honest, whether it be with teammates or the media. 

"I like to speak my mind," he said. "It's like my momma always told me, 'I'd rather you speak your mind and say what you want to say, but say it in a respectful manner and a respectful way.'"

Wall, in fact, has a detailed philosophy on being honest. He doesn't like to lie whether it's in a media setting, to teammates or in everyday life.

It's not quite a Jim Carrey in 'Liar, Liar' deal, but Wall sees no point in beating around the bush. If he has something to say to a teammate or the media, he will say it.

"I don't know how to not give you the truth," he said. "What I've learned is that when you lie, you've gotta remember that lie exactly the way you said it for the next 12 people you tell it to. So, why make it that tough?"

Wall is set to miss at least the first few months of the Wizards' 2019-20 season and he could be sidelined the entire year. He said he hopes to have a similar impact that Kristi Tolliver did with the Mystics this past season where she remained active as a veteran leader in the locker room despite not being able to help the team on the floor for weeks due to a knee injury.

Missing so much time due to injury is not the ideal situation for Wall, but he plans to make the most of it.

"It will make my game a lot smarter and better for when I come back," he said.


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After setbacks in rehab, John Wall is appreciating the little things in life

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After setbacks in rehab, John Wall is appreciating the little things in life

WASHINGTON -- John Wall has been all smiles in public when discussing his rehab from Achilles surgery. He has even remarked how smoothly this recovery has gone compared to others he's underwent in the past.

But his road back from a ruptured left Achilles has not been entirely free of obstacles. He revealed to NBC Sports Washington on the Wizards Talk podcast recently that he dealt with an infection that delayed him getting out of his walking boot.

That was already weeks after he first had surgery to remove bone spurs from his heel in January. He had a series of infections following that procedure, one of which helped doctors discover his Achilles had torn during a fall in his home.

Wall can admit now after the fact it was a difficult time for him.

"I've just put in a lot of hard work," he said. "For me to be where I'm at right now, with all the setbacks and infections and then finding out my Achilles was ruptured and then going through another infection, it was like 'man, when can I ever get past that point of just getting out of the boot and walking?'"

What made that last part particularly frustrating was where Wall makes his offseason home. He summers in Miami, a place notorious for its humidity.

"I was in Miami during the summertime in a boot. Like, man, I don't want to be in hot Miami in a boot, sweating," he said.

Nowadays, things are much better for Wall. He is doing on-court work at the Wizards' practice facility. He can shoot jumpers and do individual ball-handling and passing drills. He can jog and lift weights.

After months of waiting to just have his walking boot come off, Wall is very appreciative to simply be able to do anything on the basketball court.

"Just to do the ball-handling and be able to shoot and do the weight-lifting, that's a great aspect [of my progress]. It makes it easier for me because I'm in a great space where it's fun," he said. 

"I'm able to do what I'm able to do, even if I'm not playing at a high speed and running up and down, I'm able to shoot and do ball-handling. That's what I love to do."

Wall continues to make progress, now nine months removed from the Achilles surgery he had on Feb. 12. He is likely to be out at least three more months, and he could miss all of the 2019-20 season.

At some point, Wall may get restless, but he continues to preach patience towards his return. When asked by Chris Miller if he will start bothering the coaches soon to play, he said he's just happy to be back on the court in practice.