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NBA Draft: Wittman desires pieces for new-look Wizards


NBA Draft: Wittman desires pieces for new-look Wizards

Do you like the modern, 3-point shooting Washington Wizards team that swept Toronto out of the playoffs and nearly took down Atlanta? Good bet the answer is a loud yes. If not, get on board. That look isn't going away.

That's the message Wizards coach Randy Wittman delivered following the heart-wrenching and series-ending Game 6 loss on Friday night. The next step is adding the proper players to the current mix headlined by guards John Wall and Bradley Beal. The process begins this offseason, starting with next month's NBA Draft.

"We know what we have to do, the pieces that were going to have to add, that I'd like to add moving forward," Wittman stated during his postgame press conference.

After lagging behind nearly the entire league with production from beyond the 3-point arc during the regular season, Washington fully embraced the long ball in the postseason. This wasn't simply about a change of schemes, but also personnel. Going with a smaller lineup, one that put more shooters on the court, which in turn helped open space for Wall, led the way. Beal thrived in these looks, playing the best basketball of his career against the Hawks.

"Brad (Beal) and John (Wall) are going to be here a long time," Wittman continued. "We have to utilize what their strengths are, and their capabilities and find the right people to put around them. Allows us to play the way that I think we're kind of playing in the series with Toronto and Atlanta."

After lagging behind nearly the entire league with production from beyond the 3-point arc during the regular season, Washington fully embraced the long ball in the postseason. This wasn't simply about a change of schemes, but also personnel. Going with a smaller lineup, one that put more shooters on the court which in turn helped open space for point guard John Wall, led the way.

The Wizards took 23.3 shots per game from distance during the playoffs -- nearly seven more than their regular season average. More minutes at power forward for Paul Pierce and Drew Gooden account for a chunk of that increase. Even if both veterans return -- Gooden is a free agent and Pierce hinted at retiring following the loss -- neither offers young legs. Center Kevin Seraphin's potential departure in free agency and Brazilian big man Nene entering the final year of his contract make adding more size a priority, along with a scoring threat on the perimeter.

Washington owns the 19th and 49th selections in the 2015 NBA Draft. Ed Isaacson, owner of NBADraftblog.com, spoke with CSNwashington.com about stretch-four options possibly available in the back-half of the first round. That group includes Bobby Portis (Arkansas) followed by Trey Lyles (Kentucky). Both could wind up in the lottery, along with Kevon Looney (UCLA). Christian Wood (UNLV) and Jarell Martin (LSU) are also first round candidates.

Injuries to Beal during his three seasons have left the Wizards light at times with offensive options on the wing. R.J. Hunter (Georgia State) and Justin Anderson (Virginia) offer shooting, perimeter size and savvy.

Assuming Pierce and Gooden return, then top-eight players in the postseason rotation remain intact, putting the Wizards position to take the best player available if needed. Montrezl Harrell (Louisville) is an athletic rebounding power forward who can run with Wall on the break. Small forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson offers defense and energy.

All of these players fit with a team looking to push the pace and spread the court. Sounds like the Wizards will remain one of those teams.

MORE WIZARDS: Those 'little things' that knocked the Wizards out of the playoffs

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Marcin Gortat's emotional return ends with a loss and personal vindication

Marcin Gortat's emotional return ends with a loss and personal vindication

CAPITAL ONE ARENA -- The “Polish Machine” who now plays for the Los Angeles Clippers didn’t quite land the Hollywood movie script ending in his return to Washington.

Don’t fret for Marcin Gortat. Sure, the Wizards, his former team, fought back from a 24-point deficit for a 125-118 win. He’s good with his new scene. Gortat also has thoughts on his former situation and the turmoil brewing.

Gortat made his first appearance in the arena he called home for five seasons Tuesday night since a June 26 trade sent him to Los Angeles for Austin Rivers. He wasn’t sure of how the local fans would react. His journey in Washington ended bumpily, but the overall ride coincided with a positive turn for the franchise. The Wizards reached the playoffs in four of his five seasons.

“Well, obviously a very emotional moment,” Gortat said of his return. “Bottom line is that we came here to get a win. Unfortunately, we lost today. …It was great to be here.”

His arrival in 2013 following a trade with Phoenix led to the franchise’s first playoff appearance since 2008. Three more postseason trips followed as did Mohawks and fabulous quotes. Gortat provided the power just before the NBA veered away from hulking frontcourts. His fame and fortune increased in Washington. His affable and oversized personality attracted fans.

Fans that watched the 6-foot-11 screen-setting center consistently provide double-doubles graciously applauded for the ex-Wizard during pre-game introductions. Gortat, who started 400 of 402 games played in Washington, appreciated the gesture.

“It was weird to sit on that side of the court and play against your guys,” Gortat said. “It was tough, very emotional and weird, but it’s business.”

Gortat wasn’t immune to criticism from fans and teammates during his time in Washington. Part of the reason he now plays for the Clippers is that the relationship with former pick-and-roll partner John Wall soured. When disapproval only went so far up the Wizards’ player hierarchy, it often stopped with the man in the middle.

The Wizards entered Tuesday’s game flailing. Many of the same players from prior seasons remained. Not Gortat, meaning any blame must land elsewhere. With drama engulfing the Wizards, Gortat proudly felt vindicated. He waited for the pack of reporters to clear before expressing such thoughts.

“Listen, the way I was traded out of that team, it looked like I was the cancer of the locker room,” Gortat told NBC Sports Washington. “I think that thing was verified and it was complete [expletive]. It is what it is now.”

Pregame Gortat wondered if the Wizards would join the ranks of teams creating tribute videos for returning players. He would be left wanting.

Rivers, the son of the Clippers head coach, received one in October upon his first arrival back with the team he played for over four seasons. Gortat remembered.

As the formal postgame scrum ended, the ex-Wizard made it clear he had thoughts to share and asked to be asked about the lack of a video tribute.

“Well, what do I think about that? A lot of guys around the league are getting tributes. It ’s obviously up to the organization, but I guess Austin Rivers did enough to get his tribute, but I didn’t do enough to get a tribute here,” Gortat said to NBC Sports Washington. “A few guys around the team understand. It was kind of weird.”

Taking the court with his former teammates was more different than weird, but ultimately cordial and competitive.

“Brad (Beal) fouled me a few times. He admitted he fouled me, but I didn’t get a call,” a chuckling Gortat told NBC Sports Washington. “John, yeah, we had our ups and downs, but at the end of the day, there’s no bad blood. We spoke at the end of the game, said good luck, stay healthy.”

Ultimately, Gortat made peace with his time in Washington. The fond memories outweighed the knocks. Members of the Wizards organization stopped by the Clippers locker room for a chat and a laugh. Gortat bear hugged Wizards equipment manager Jerry Walter to the ground.

The loss stung. Los Angeles does the stinging most nights. The Clippers entered with a five-game winning streak. Their 11-6 record puts them among the Western Conference elite. Gortat’s minutes are down (18 per game). Such limits would have bothered him in Washington. 

At 34 and knowing his NBA life could be fleeting with his contract expiring this summer, Gortat is cool with his new world.

“I’m great. I’m great where I am,” the 12-year veteran said. “I get to play and help the team as much as I can either on the court, off the court, in the locker room. I’m going to try to help my team and lead us as much as I can. We have great chemistry and a great team.”


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Scott Brooks plans to give Tomas Satoransky more minutes, and this time he means it

Scott Brooks plans to give Tomas Satoransky more minutes, and this time he means it

One of Scott Brooks' most common postgame platitudes is the assertion he needs to find a player more minutes. It is usually said about a guy on the bench who just had a nice game.

Quite often, that doesn't end up happening. Whether it's because he only meant it so much, or because other factors mitigate those plans, usually that player goes back to the very same role they had been serving.

Brooks seemed to acknowledge that after Tuesday night's win, when he really, really emphasized that he needs to find backup point guard Tomas Satoransky more minutes.

"A lot of times, I try to find everybody some minutes, but I'm finding him minutes," Brooks said. "I'm finding him minutes. I don't care who [it affects], I'm finding him minutes."

Satoransky had just played his second consecutive good game. Against the Clippers on Tuesday, he compiled 13 points, seven rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block. 

The 27-year-old helped key a 24-point comeback for the Wizards by playing almost all of the third quarter. The Wizards went into halftime down 73-54, but caught momentum in the third and outscored L.A. by 10 points in the frame.

Satoransky and a host of bench players nearly led the Wizards back from down 29 points against the Blazers on Sunday. Those two games have caught Brooks' attention.

"He just plays hard and plays the right way. There's no agenda," Brooks said.

Satoransky's role has fluctuated over the past two seasons. Last year, he was in and out of the rotation, sometimes starting while also riding the bench for extended stretches.

He has been through enough to know that comments made by Brooks in a postgame interview only mean so much. But he likes to hear that the coach is taking notice.

"I'm happy, obviously," Satoransky said when relayed Brooks' comments.

"My approach to the game is to always play hard and play for my teammates. That's what I've learned throughout my career. I'm always trying to bring it every game. Obviously, hopefully it is going to bring me more minutes."

Satoransky played a season-high 24 minutes in Tuesday's win. Part of that was due to foul trouble for Kelly Oubre Jr. But Satoransky got some of the minutes that would otherwise go to fellow backup guard Austin Rivers.

He was playing well and he got rewarded for it. His teammate Bradley Beal was happy to see that.

"He's a killer. A lot of people don't know it though [because] he's nice," Beal said. "A lot of people don't respect him because he's European. A lot of people may not know who he is, but he got game." 

Satoransky seems to have done his part. Next up is the Toronto Raptors on Friday and that will be the first test of Brooks' goal to get Satoransky more playing time.

According to the coach, it's been a long time coming.

"I'm slow. It took me 15-16 games to figure that out, but he's earned it with the way he's playing," Brooks said.