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Morning tip: Wizards remain committed to 2016


Morning tip: Wizards remain committed to 2016

Unless the Wizards are able to find a way to move up in tonight's NBA draft -- that would seem difficult given their lack of assets other than future picks and commitment to keeping Bradley Beal -- they probably won't make major waves this offseason.

A year ago, they surprised everyone by landing Paul Pierce in free agency and making another run to the Eastern Conference semifinals that probably would've continued had John Wall not broken his left wrist. They'd signed a host of players to short-term deals that allowed them to free themselves under the salary cap for the summer of 2016 when Kevin Durant comes available.

By all accounts, and CSNwashington.com has talked to several people with knowledge of their situation, they're what poker players call pot committed. Even if president Ernie Grunfeld can find a way to move up a few spots from Nos. 19 or 49 to get a player they covet tonight, it's not going to come at the expense of blowing up this blueprint. He likes the hand that they've dealt themselves.

This means taking on long-term salary as part of any deal, as has been reported here multiple times since the Feb. 19 deadline for the 2014-15 season, is a conversation-stopper. 

The East is wide open. The Atlanta Hawks probably won't be the dominant team that won a franchise-record 60 games. The Cleveland Cavaliers have LeBron James but are far from a lock as he gets older and their roster remains thin because of the bench.

But the Wizards are intent on not overreacting. Yes, they didn't get any deeper in the postseason than they did previously but two years in a row they've advanced. And this was a better team when the season ended despite having the same seeding (No. 5) and a similar record to the 2013-14 version. 

That success should make Washington an even more attractive destination for free agents, some of whom could be willing to take shorter money when the period opens July 1, to join a contender. That's what Pierce did and he walked away from the experience speaking glowingly about the organization and coach Randy Wittman (the opposite of what he said about spending one year with the Brooklyn Nets and then-coach Jason Kidd). 

If Pierce opts out of his contract, a decision he'll make official after the draft, thank him for his service and move on. He'll be 38 and plans on retiring after 2015-16 anyway. Pierce never was part of any long-term plans.

The core of Wall, Beal and Marcin Gortat is in place. Beal is under contract for next season but is eligible to negotiate an extension this summer. Otto Porter looks like he has found his rhythm as a pro.

In terms of personnel, this next roster probably will look a lot like the one that lost in Game 6 to the Hawks. Kevin Seraphin (unrestricted) already has said he won't return. Rasual Butler (unrestricted) seems likely to not return if the Wizards can fill the void he leaves through the draft. There's a good chance Drew Gooden (unrestricted) stays as there appears to be mutual interest in having him back. Garrett Temple told CSNwashington.com via text last week that he exercised his player option for Year 2. 

So expect rookies from the draft and 2-3 new faces. If they make the right choices, it could be enough to get the Wizards to the conference finals without impacting their 2016 plan. 

MORE: NBA Mock Draft 8.0: The final countdown

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Wizards' assistant Sidney Lowe leaves to join Dwane Casey's staff with Detroit Pistons

Associated Press

Wizards' assistant Sidney Lowe leaves to join Dwane Casey's staff with Detroit Pistons

The Washington Wizards have an opening on their coaching staff, as assistant Sidney Lowe has left the team to join the Detroit Pistons.

Lowe, according to ESPN, will be the top assistant on new Pistons coach Dwane Casey's staff. 

Lowe spent two seasons under head coach Scott Brooks in Washington. A D.C. native, Lowe starred at DeMatha High School before playing at NC State and then in the NBA.

Lowe was the head coach at his alma mater for five years from 2006 through 2011, but has otherwise been an NBA lifer. He served as head coach of the Timberwolves in 1993-94 and head coach of the Grizzlies from 2000 to 2002.

The Wizards have several coaching hires to make now. They have a new G-League team set to take the court in the fall and will need to hire a staff sometime this summer. 

With Lowe gone, they could choose to promote from within or go outside the organization.

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Little information out there about Wizards' second round pick Issuf Sanon

USA Today Sports Images

Little information out there about Wizards' second round pick Issuf Sanon

Wizards fans will know a lot more about 2018 second round pick Issuf Sanon once he takes the floor next month in the Las Vegas Summer League, but for now the 18-year-old point guard remains a bit of a mystery.

There are limited highlights on YouTube and stats available to evaluate him. Most who have an opinion on the player are operating on little information. 

For now, what we have are some video compilations and quotes from the team. Team president Ernie Grunfeld described Sanon on Thursday night and says he's a player who could someday play both guard positions at the NBA level.

"[He’s a] very talented point guard, combo guard who is very athletic and he has real good upside," Grunfeld said. "Very athletic [and] very talented. [He] makes plays, he has a nice shot and he’s playing very tough competition.”

Grunfeld mentioned Sanon's athleticism many times. The Wizards saw Sanon at the NBA's international combine and love his combination of size and speed. He is 6-foot-4 and 1/2 and noticeably faster than those he competes against in the Premier A Slovenian League. 

Grunfeld likened Sanon's size and speed to Tomas Satoransky, a point guard currently on the Wizards' roster.

"He's a good ball-hander, very competitive and a lot like Tomas. We drafted Tomas at an earlier age, he went overseas [and] he played at the highest level and it got him ready for the NBA.”," Grunfeld said.

The highlights available of Sanon show a guy who clearly stands out above his competition. He has a knack for getting to the rim and can finish in a variety of ways. There are also many clips of him blocking shots, sometimes in the post and often from behind on the fastbreak.

NBA.com has an interesting breakdown of Sanon's most recent season in the Slovenian league from an advanced stats perspective. They applauded his defense and the numbers suggest he puts that unique athleticism to use on the defensive end of the floor.

Had a remarkable year defensively for his age. Gets in a stance and competes to help make up for his lack of experience. Pressures the ball with quick hands, but lacks a degree of anticipation to stay in front of elite athletes. Still figuring out how to handle ball screens without overthinking things, but held his own anyways for the most part. Allowed only 0.471 points per Isolation possession [92nd percentile]. A bit foul prone, but forces turnovers at an impressive rate. Has a good work ethic defensively which should serve him well as he gains experience.

Sports Illustrated raved about Sanon's motor on the court and his hard-nosed approach, two things that would seem to bode well combined with his explosive athleticism:

Rangy, athletic combo guard who plays both ends of the floor. Puts pressure on the rim. Likes to get downhill and attack the basket. Shows flashes in transition. Lots of natural talent.

Sanon spoke with Wizards reporters soon after he was drafted on Thursday night and said Russell Westbrook is a guy he models his game after. He plays at a much lower level of professional basketball, but there are similarities with Westbrook in Sanon's size and knack for scoring at the rim.

The stats only tell so much of the story, as he was going up against lower competition. It is worth noting, however, that his shooting percentage was low pretty much across the board. In 22 games during the 2017-18 season, Sanon shot 29.3 percent from three and 40 percent from the free throw line.

The Wizards have realistic expectations for Sanon, knowing it could take years before he even plays in the NBA. Many second round picks never make it at all.

Grunfeld pointed to Satoransky's career path as a possible timeline for Sanon, meaning the Wizards may not bring him over until he's in his 20s. He won't be able to help at backup point guard right away, but someday perhaps he can put his athleticism to use and actually help the Wizards.


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