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NBA Draft: The gambles

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NBA Draft: The gambles

However, those temperamental NBA Draft lottery ping pong balls align themselves on May 30, the Wizards' options appear rather clear: the shot blocking Anthony Davis first and foremost followed by in some order the rebounding Thomas Robinson, the outside shooting Bradley Beal or the aggressive natured Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.That's a short list of four. The Wizards could land the fifth selection. Should that take place, this is where the prognostications get a little tricky.Not with the Wizards on the brain, but Sam Amick from SI.com slotted prospects into three categories: winning the jackpot (the quartet above), the safe options (think Harrison Barnes and Tyler Zeller) and the gambles. The realistic names to ponder have a Nutmeg state kind of vibe. That's Connecticut for all of you non-state motto buff folks out there.

Andre Drummond, the powerful 6-foot-10, 270 lbs freshman center is the epitome of risk. Size matters, but so does skill and instincts and not sure anyone can say in this case that the hefty former outweighs the training wheels latter. You don't need, as Amick has done, to quote an anonymous NBA front office to say about Drummond, "he's a project."His silky wing guard teammate Jeremy Lamb fits a greater need for the locals. However,for observers who turned hot for the 6-foot-5 guard's perimeter game following a stellar national championship run with the Huskies,Lamb's sophomore campaign left them a bit cold.Read the two profiles, stay for my final thoughts below...Andre Drummond, Connecticut, freshman center (6-foot-10, 270 pounds): While Kentucky power forward and consensus No. 1 pick Anthony Davis was the headliner of the "Jackpot" bunch, Drummond has that label in this group. His talent and size are worthy of Jackpot status, but the best center in the bunch lands here after being the poster boy for the Huskies' disappointing defense of their 2011 national title.Drummond's unexpected decision last August to attend UConn was seen as the sort of recruiting coup that could keep the Huskies near the top of college basketball despite the loss of star guard Kemba Walker to the NBA. Scout.com made Drummond the No. 2 recruit in the country as a senior at St. Thomas More High School in Oakdale, Conn., where he won a national prep title.But the mix never worked, even as UConn returned a fellow pro prospect and a breakout player in its championship run, shooting guard Jeremy Lamb (more on him later). The Huskies were eliminated in the first round of the NCAA tournament by Iowa State, finishing 20-14 overall and 8-10 in the Big East. Drummond had just two points and three rebounds in 26 minutes in that game, capping a season in which he averaged only 10 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 28.4 minutes while shooting 53.8 percent from the field and an embarrassing 29.5 percent from the free-throw line. "He's a project," one front-office man said.Still, he's about as promising a project as there is in this draft. The combination of his size and elite athleticism has teams wondering if he could become a hybrid of the Lakers' Andrew Bynum and the Magic's Dwight Howard. Like both players, he is a force on defense at a young age but has a long way to go offensively.Drummond can run the floor like a guard, he's a natural passer and he can step out for mid-range jumpers. But the inconsistency and his penchant for playing while in third gear have raised concerns. His playing time was inconsistent as well, though, with six games of fewer than 20 minutes, and his ability to be a dependable rebounder when he played big minutes could be revealing. Attacking the glass is often an indicator of a player's motor, and Drummond averaged 9.6 rebounds in his 16 games of 30-plus minutes.Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut, sophomore shooting guard (6-5, 185): As is the case with Drummond, there's some guilt by association here when it comes to the Huskies and their weak title defense. Lamb's skill set, shot, athleticism and smooth scoring are still enough to ensure that he doesn't slide too far in the first round, but he didn't progress the way that many expected after Walker's departure. Four of his 10 games with at least 20 points last season came in the first five contests, and he averaged 17.7 points overall while shooting 47.8 percent from the field and 33.6 percent on three-pointers. Lamb's very skinny frame is an issue, too.Can't imagine anyone talking me into Wizards drafting the general manager kiling Drummond- and that goes triple should any of those jackpot-y types still be on the board. Plus the Wizards have young bigs plus Nene andneed shooters. Then again, if you're taking a risk, go big over small, so they say.If another high lottery team has that mindset and drafts Drummond ahead of the Wizards, best case scenario. If the Wizards drop to five and it's a choice between him, Lamb or one of other "safe" or "gamble" types, conjuring up a trade for a veteran could bethe better Plan B.

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John Wall knows the decision between loyalty and money is a tough one for Bryce Harper

John Wall knows the decision between loyalty and money is a tough one for Bryce Harper

In just a few months, Nationals star Bryce Harper could become one of the biggest free agents not just in baseball history, but sports history. He will decide whether to stay in Washington with the team that drafted him and oversaw his development as a young player, or to leave for another city.

Wizards guard John Wall has twice faced the prospect of free agency and twice has decided to sign contract extensions to stay in D.C. Though the salary structures of baseball and basketball are different, there are some parallels between the two. 

Wall has a unique perspective on the call Harper has to make and gave his opinion on the matter in a 1-on-1 interview on the latest episode of our Wizards Tipoff podcast.

"Well, it’s kind of tough. It depends on if you want to do it off of loyalty, or if you want to do it to make sure you make the most money you can make. That’s the toughest decision that you can have. I have the opportunity here where I have loyalty and I can also make the money, so that was a bonus and a plus for me in both situations," Wall said. 

Wall noted how as an NBA player he can have the best of both worlds. The league's collective bargaining agreement allows teams to pay players they drafted significantly more money.

That, however, has not stopped NBA stars from changing teams. Wall in many ways is an outlier as many superstars have left money on the table to depart their original teams. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Paul George have all done that, to name a few. Kawhi Leonard could be next.

Harper, though, may also be able to make more money elsewhere. The Dodgers, Cubs, Yankees, Red Sox or some other team could conceivably offer more money than the Nats and there are some cities like L.A. and New York that could open up more endorsement opportunities.

There's no question it pays to be the best player on the Yankees. Look at Derek Jeter and how his stardom was boosted by that distinction.

Loyalty is also going to come into play for Harper and the past few days have shown he is a sentimental person, as he has talked about all the people he has connected with over the years and how much the Washington community means to him.

Wall took all of those things into account when he decided to stay in D.C. and not look elsewhere via free agency or trades, which have become commonplace for All-Star players in the NBA.

"It was how much what the city means to me is the reason I wanted to stay and what I want to bring here is a championship, it’s what I promise and I hope I can do that," Wall said. "My dad’s from here. Just the way they welcomed me from the first day I came here. Sticking with me through the tough times, when we wasn’t winning early on and then we started to win. The city just embraced me and I embraced the city back. It feels like home and I wouldn’t want to be nowhere else."

Though the difference in money likely won't be as drastic, Harper will have to choose how much loyalty and the human connection he has with people in Washington matters in his free agency decision. Wall knows the feeling.

Hear Wall's full 1-on-1 interview on our latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

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Wizards have talked to the Spurs about Kawhi Leonard, report says

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Wizards have talked to the Spurs about Kawhi Leonard, report says

After already making significant changes to their roster, the Wizards may not be done this offseason, as they have been in talks with the San Antonio Spurs about a potential trade for superstar Kawhi Leonard, according to a new report by ESPN

Read this from Adrian Wojnarowski:

Still, the bidding war among Boston, Philadelphia and the Lakers never materialized. The Los Angeles Clippers, Denver, Phoenix, Portland, Toronto and Washington are among teams who've talked with San Antonio, league sources said.

The Wizards certainly make sense as a Leonard suitor. They are in the East, meaning the Spurs could trade Leonard to them and not have to worry about facing him as often. Plus, they have a solid group of tradeable assets and ones that seem to fit the Spurs model.

Otto Porter is a versatile, young player under team control who plays an unselfish style and would likely embrace playing in a small market. He also has a salary ($26M in 2018-19) that isn't far off from Leonard's ($21M in 2018-19), so the money could be easily matched.

The Wizards also have Tomas Satoransky and Kelly Oubre, Jr., two young and up-and-coming players. Plus, they have draft picks, though ones that are unlikely to convey as lottery selections.

The Spurs have reportedly been more interested in getting players that can help now rather than draft picks to rebuild. That makes sense, as they still won 47 games last year despite Leonard only playing in nine of them due to injury.

The question in any Wizards and Spurs talks would be whether they would want one of Washington's All-Stars in John Wall and Bradley Beal. It would be tough to imagine the Wizards parting with either guy for Leonard, who carries some risk not only because of his quadriceps injury but also because he can opt out of his contract and leave after next season.

Just because the Wizards have talked to the Spurs doesn't mean they are serious contenders for Leonard, but it does show they are serious about improving their roster this summer. If they got Leonard and didn't part with Wall and Beal, that would be some team.

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