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NBA Draft: Thunder 'promise' could eliminate target for Wizards


NBA Draft: Thunder 'promise' could eliminate target for Wizards

The Wizards will work out all kinds of bigs and smalls and wings leading up to the June 25 NBA Draft. That their first session this coming Monday features some notable point guard prospects - Notre Dame's Jerian Grant and Utah's Delon Wright - probably shouldn't be viewed as anything more than somebody had to come first. 

Whether Murray State's Cameron Payne ever visits Chinatown is something to watch.

Those three along with Duke's Tyus Jones are projected as point guards likely falling in the 10-30 range. The Wizards own the 19th selection.

Payne, who have averaged 20 points and six assists for the Racers last season, has emerged as the leader of this group -- and perhaps favorite of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

From ESPN's Chad Ford this week (via Pro Basketball Talk):

As for the Thunder, since late last week there’s been a lot of buzz among rival GMs that the Thunder promised Cameron Payne they’d take him at 14. I don’t know how much of that is smoke, but he is a great fit at 14 and talent wise he may be the best pure point guard in the draft.

On the surface the idea of OKC adding a point guard might not seem natural seeing as Russell Westbrook lives on the roster along with D.J. Augustin. Then again, neither is a classic point guard. Perhaps the Thunder simply love Payne's game and see him as a long-term fit.

What makes this promise rumor more believable than most is because the Thunder have pulled such maneuvers in the past. AS PBT's Dan Feldman reminds us, rumors swirled of them using the 24th pick on guard Reggie Jackson. They did. Last season the Thunder made a pre-draft arrangement with Stanford's Josh Huestis before selecting him 29th overall.

Ford ranks Payne 11th among all prospects, ahead of Grant (17), Jones (20) and Wright (26).

Point guard ranks below playmaking big man and probably wing scoring threat on the Wizards' need list. However, if Paul Pierce returns for another season, Washington returns the bulk of its core rotation. In that case, the best player available regardless of position remains an option. Grant and Wright offer size while the 6-foot-2 Jones, MVP of the Final Four, is a scoring threat.

If this promise from Oklahoma City proves true, the Wizards may not get a chance for a closer look at Payne to see if he's the best bet.

[RELATED: Point Guards highlight Wizards' pre-draft workouts]

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Capital City Go-Go now allow Wizards make final roster cut to 14 and leave the 15th spot open

Capital City Go-Go now allow Wizards make final roster cut to 14 and leave the 15th spot open

On Saturday, two days before the deadline to finalize Opening Day rosters, the Washington Wizards waived four players - LaVoy Allen, Chris Chiozza, Chasson Randle and Tiwian Kendley - and in doing so trimmed their roster down to 14 players. That's one fewer than the NBA roster maximum of 15 players, meaning they opted to leave one of their roster spots vacant.

This was not a big surprise, but it's worth going through the reasons why they chose to do so for those who may be wondering. 

For one, the Wizards have a lot of money committed to their roster and could use some savings. They are fourth in the NBA this season with a total cap of $134.9 million. That is $11.1 million more than the salary cap limit, which means they are due to pay $19.1 million in luxury tax next year, according to Spotrac.

The Wizards also don't absolutely need that 15th player. They have two two-way players in Devin Robinson and Jordan McRae who collectively give them depth at a wide variety of positions. 

Under two-way contracts, they can be activated for up to 45 days this season before the Wizards have to decide on a fully guaranteed NBA deal. The NBA adjusted the rules this season to exclude travel days from that 45-day clock. The NBA days limit for Robinson and McRae also does not begin until G-League training camps begin on Oct. 22.

Speaking of the G-League, the Wizards have their own team now. The Capital City Go-Go will begin their inaugural season in November and that will give the organization the deepest stable of prospects (and roster spots) is has ever had. They now have much more room than ever to stash young players that would otherwise be considered for the final spot.

Even if the Wizards didn't have that option, as they did not last year, it wouldn't necessarily convince them to fill the last roster spot. Last season, they went without a 15th player for much of the year and for extended stretches only carried 13, the league minimum. They even rolled with 12 after the NBA trade deadline, as the league allows two weeks for teams to reach the minimum.

That recent history alone was enough to suggest they wouldn't fill the 15th spot. And, truthfully, that 15th spot rarely came into play as an actual need. This isn't the NFL where injuries make every roster spot incredibly valuable, or MLB where extra innings can sometimes make it feel like their rosters aren't deep enough.

Perhaps the Wizards will fill the 15th spot at some point this season. They can do so in a variety of ways, including if they trade one player for two. Just don't count on it, for all the reasons listed above.


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Richard Jefferson announces retirement from basketball after 17 NBA seasons

USA Today Sports

Richard Jefferson announces retirement from basketball after 17 NBA seasons

After a career that spanned 17 NBA seasons while playing for eight different teams, Richard Jefferson officially announced his retirement from basketball on Saturday via Instagram.

Jefferson spent the first seven years of his career with the Nets (then of New Jersey) before moving on to the Spurs, Bucks, Warriors, Jazz, Mavericks, Cavaliers and finally Nuggets. The Arizona alum was with Cleveland when the Cavs won the NBA title in 2015-16.

For his career, Jefferson averaged 12.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. He played particularly well against the Wizards, scoring an average of 14.1 points in 43 total games versus Washington.