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Morning tip: Wizards miss chance at more rest for Wall

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Morning tip: Wizards miss chance at more rest for Wall

With 2:17 left in the game with the Portland Trail Blazers, and the Wizards trailing by 17, John Wall finally exited. He'd played 36 minutes two days after a season-high 44.

Not a big deal to many, but considering that the game had long been lost and that Wall has been playing with multiple ailments since the fourth game of the season and is the one player they can't afford to lose, what do the Wizards gain?

Wall had shot 4 of 17 and missed four consecutive mid-range jumpers early in the third quarter. He didn't have the touch. His legs didn't have the same spring. He had nine points, his first game failing to reach double-digits since. Dec. 14.

"I was frustrated. I had the looks that I had ... I wasn't making them. I felt like I was letting my team down," Wall said. "I wouldn't put it on my legs. I had a day off to rest (on Sunday). I just didn't make shots."

A player, especially a proud one like Wall who always feels he has something to prove, isn't going to sit himself down early. But the Wizards (19-21) probably should be more diligent in saving him, focusing on the long game and throwing in the white flag sooner.

They need Wall as fresh as possible with winnable games left in this homestand vs. the Miami Heat tonight, Utah Jazz and Boston Celtics. Win all three, after losing the first two, and they'll be over .500 for the first time in two months.

But coach Randy Wittman is a bit old school. There's always a chance that a team can come back and win if they find a spark but it wasn't happening with Wall in that game Monday. The Blazers led by 24. Such a deficit isn't insurmountable but the Wizards trailed 94-76 entering the fourth quarter. 

"He's played 40 before," Wittman said when asked about Wall's minutes. "We had an off day."

While that's true, the more rest Wall can be given it'll only help. Bradley Beal, coming off a stress reaction in his lower right leg, played six of his 24 minutes in the fourth. Marcin Gortat, recently returned from a left knee infection, logged 11 minutes in the fourth.

It can be argued that Beal, who may or may not have been joking when he said Wittman would "forget" that he's on a minutes restriction and overuse him, and Gortat needed the work to be fine-tune their conditioning after their layoffs. Wall, however, has had no off-time. He has carried the load on both ends without Beal for 16 games so when routs like this happen -- and they will happen to all 30 NBA teams -- this is where the Wizards can be more clever in manufacturing more down time for him.

Rookie Kelly Oubre only played three minutes in the fourth. Jarell Eddie and DeJuan Blair were on the floor two minutes. All three could've used more burn just because time will be hard for them to come by when the roster replenishes with the returns of Drew Gooden, Otto Porter, Alan Anderson and Kris Humphries -- none of whom will be available when the Wizards play the Heat tonight.

MORE WIZARDS: PLAYERS ALREADY RULED OUT FOR MATCHUP WITH MIAMI

Maybe they all would be sharper for Miami as a result. And what if, by a long shot, that unit actually found magic in a bottle and cut into the lead with Portland? It happens. Plus it sends a subtle message to the starters who didn't get the job done.

The Blazers wouldn't have had much information about those little-used reserves on the scouting report and may have been unprepared for the change-up. If the score gets the Wizards back in striking distance, then maybe it's worthwhile going back to Wall to steal one. 

Wall was given off from practice Tuesday. He won't do much of anything at morning shootaround before the game with Miami. Saving him six or seven minutes here or there won't seem like much, but over an 82-game season it adds up. The nature of coaching is to be concerned about the moment and not what-ifs down the road.

The franchise player -- or players if Beal is re-signs this summer -- no matter how much he may object like a fighter who is being told by the chief second that he's stopping the fight, must be protected. And oftentimes, it's from himself.

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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. 

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