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Nats ask Strasburg to end losing streak

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Nats ask Strasburg to end losing streak

There will be plenty of side drama to tonight's game, with everyone wondering whether there will be any recourse for the Nationals ratting out Rays reliever Joel Peralta's pine tar-laden glove, not to mention Joe Maddon's less-than-complimentary feelings about Davey Johnson.

But of far more importance to the Nationals is the need for a win. They've lost four straight, and the last thing they want to do is extend the streak to five. Fortunately, Stephen Strasburg is on the mound tonight. The Nats have given their ace the ball three times this season while they're stuck in a losing streak of at least three games. Strasburg has won all three games: May 10 at the Pirates, May 20 against the Orioles, June 2 against the Braves.

Strasburg was supposed to be opposed tonight by Jeremy Hellickson, but the budding Rays right-hander was placed on the DL with a shoulder injury. So instead it'll be righty Chris Archer making his big-league debut.

Plenty of updates to come on the Nats Insider live game thread...

TAMPA BAY RAYS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 187
Weather: Mostly clear, 93 degrees, Wind 5 mph out to CF

NATIONALS (38-27)
LF Steve Lombardozzi
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
RF Michael Morse
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Jesus Flores
RHP Stephen Strasburg

RAYS (38-29)
Lineup TBA
RHP Chris Archer

UMPIRES
HP Jeff Nelson, 1B Cory Blaser, 2B Chris Guccione, 3B Tim Tschida (cc)

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Expect Wizards trade rumor reboot with upcoming arrival of LeBron James, Lakers

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USA Today Sports

Expect Wizards trade rumor reboot with upcoming arrival of LeBron James, Lakers

LeBron James is coming to town. Normally the focus remains with the four-time MVP whenever he makes an appearance. Those looking beyond Sunday’s Lakers-Wizards meeting in Washington might split their concentration. Think trade.

The Wizards (11-17) are still trying for a foothold after early-season wobbles. Now 9-8 since a 2-9 start, they enter Friday’s game at Brooklyn having lost three in a row. The notion of adding help or breaking up the band exists. There are also salary cap concerns going forward.

Possible trade partners vary, but the Lakers may target All-Star level help to pair with James. The rumor mill is aware of those factors and constantly churning out ideas typically involving John Wall or Bradley Beal. All will take the court together this weekend.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith offered his own Washington-centric take to NBC Sports Washington following Wednesday’s Celtics-Wizards overtime thriller.

 “You have to trade Bradley Beal,” Smith said.

“The reason why you have to trade Bradley Beal is he’s three years younger (than Wall), he’s got two years less left on his contract, and if you scour the league every executive will tell you he’s the higher commodity because John Wall’s game is predicated on athleticism and speed and conditioning. Usually, father time says that dissipates, which means you’re going to lower in value.”

Wall’s four-year, $170 million contract extension begins next season. Beal, 25, signed a five-year, $128 million contract in 2016. Otto Porter is the highest paid player on the roster this season ($26.011 million). His deal includes a player option for the 2020-21 season.

Those salary numbers combined with production shines a light on Beal.

“He’s a shooter in a game where shooting is incredibly important in this day and age,” Smith said of Beal. “His value will only elevate. The fact is with Wall the perception is there’s a bad contract. In Porter, the perception is there’s a bad contract. In Beal, no one has called it a bad contract.

“So when you look at it from that perspective, he’s the guy that you may need to move in order to acquire the attributes that you need in order to make this team better down the line or at least get enough cap space so you can somewhat start over because you’re not going to get anybody to take John Wall’s contract right now.”

The Lakers may seek immediate help with the West wide open beyond the dominate Warriors. They also may not want to add long-term money or trade potential player assets including Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball or Josh Hart. Los Angeles is expected to make plays for headliners Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson or Kawhi Leonard this summer.

As for the Wizards, reports of potential deals does not mean the team is actively shopping Wall and Beal or even considering such moves. Washington, Boston, and Philadelphia are the only Eastern Conference teams with at least two All-Stars from last season. If the Wizards are going to rally, those are the types of players needed. Does such thinking change if 11-17 turns into 22-28 as the Feb. 7 trade approaches? We’ll see.

All we know for sure is that James and crew will be in Chinatown Sunday night. We should probably just focus on that. Good luck with that.

 

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Three things to watch for Wizards at Nets, including if Otto Porter will play

Three things to watch for Wizards at Nets, including if Otto Porter will play

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr. and the Washington Wizards take on Spencer Dinwiddie, D'Angelo Russell, Jarrett Allen and the Brooklyn Nets. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington Plus. 

Here are three things to watch.

1. Will Porter play?: The Wizards may be getting a key player back on Friday with Otto Porter Jr. on the road back from a right knee contusion. He left Monday's game against the Pacers after suffering the injury, then missed Wednesday's game against the Celtics. The Wizards lost both of those games.

Porter, 25, was close to playing on Wednesday as a gametime decision, so it seems likely he will be available on Friday. If he does play, he will look for better success against the Nets than he has in their other match-ups this season. Through two games against Brooklyn, Porter is averaging only 7.5 points while shooting 35.3 percent from the field. He is 0-for-6 from three.

Porter, though, had been playing very well before the injury. In his previous three games, he was averaging 16.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.7 steals and a block. He shot 55.3 percent overall and 47.1 percent from three.

2. Wiz Need to Bounce Back: The Wizards head to a Brooklyn in the middle of a slump. They have lost three straight games following a three-game win streak that happened to begin against this same Nets team on Dec. 1. 

The Wizards have found some balance recently, having gone 9-8 in their last 17 games after going 2-9 to begin the year. But real, sustained momentum has been elusive. 

The Nets are a team that they should beat. This game begins a manageable stretch that includes some good teams like the Lakers and Pacers, but plenty of potential cupcakes like the Hawks, Suns and Bulls.

3. Nets On a Roll: Though the Nets (11-18) have an even worse record than the Wizards (11-17), they are on a bit of a roll. They have won three straight games, including an overtime victory over the Raptors and one on the road against the Sixers.

They held Toronto to only 105 points, including the extra period. And against the Sixers, they scored 127 points in regulation.

Spencer Dinwiddie has been leading the way, averaging 27 points and 6.3 assists during this three-game stretch. Allen Crabbe has also stepped up with 16 points and 4.3 boards per game.

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