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New CBA rule could change Wizards' approach to NBA Draft

New CBA rule could change Wizards' approach to NBA Draft

The new collective bargaining rules that allow for two-way contracts for players with less than three years’ experience to go between the D-League and their NBA team create options for the Wizards who hold the No. 52 pick in this month’s draft.

Teams have been allowed to have a maximum of 15 players under contract but that has increased by two under the 2017 CBA. That means teams in general, including the Wizards, could be less likely to trade their second round picks -- or those picks will could more value if they do move them -- that usually need time to develop. 

Dez Wells, a guard from the University of Maryland who played briefly for the Wizards in summer league two years ago and with the Oklahoma City Thunder’s D-League team, has more incentive to stay stateside rather than going to play in Germany. Or if Maryland's Melo Trimble, who worked out for the Wizards last week, is acquired and needs time to develop there's more flexibility.

“It’s important for guys to not be tempted to go overseas,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks told CSNmidatlantic.com on Tuesday. “You can make a decent living, have a chance to be in front of us and be developed by us.”

In the past, if a player was sent from his parent NBA team to the D-League during the season – the Wizards shipped Sheldon Mac (formerly McClellan) to the Delaware 87ers on multiple occasions and Chris McCullough to the Northern Arizona Suns -- the team didn't gain an open roster spot. That player would still occupy a roster spot among the 15 and get paid their NBA salary while playing in the second division.

Two-way players earn higher salaries than D-League players without these gateway deals. But a two-way player only can be in NBA training camp and with the NBA team for a maximum of 45 days during the regular season. If he reaches the limit and they want his services beyond that, his contract has to be converted to a full NBA deal.

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In his first season with the Wizards, Brooks has put significant emphasis on developing undrafted rookies Mac, Daniel Ochefu and Danuel House before the latter was released. And that can be done with an eye to the future without being forced to choose between them and a veteran for a short-term run.

And for a 49-win team like the Wizards this season, and their teams that won 44 and 46 games in 2014 and '15, they usually can't wait if they hope to advance in the playoffs. A 35-year-old such as Rasual Butler, for instance, is a greater need than a 22-year-old second-round pick who is loaded with question marks.

Not having their own D-League team is a major part of that equation as the Wizards are one of five teams without their own affiliate or a one-to-one relationship. When a new practice facility is opened in 2018, that loophole is expected to be closed by majority owner Ted Leonsis.

“I think it’s an interesting concept," Brooks said. "I don't know how it's going to work yet."

The Wizards sold their second-round draft pick in 2014 and dealt theirs in 2016 to move up to get Kelly Oubre the previous season.

The next one is June 22. 

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Cavaliers are gunning for Kawhi Leonard, though it's doubtful they have enough to interest Spurs


Cavaliers are gunning for Kawhi Leonard, though it's doubtful they have enough to interest Spurs

With word out that Kawhi Leonard wants a trade from the Spurs, teams are lining up with offers to San Antonio and one of the NBA’s best teams has reportedly already made a call.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have contacted the Spurs about a potential Leonard trade, according to Cleveland.com. Terry Pluto wrote on Sunday that multiple teams have done the same. That is to expected, of course, as Leonard is one of the best players in the NBA. He's a two-time defensive player of the year and he's only 26.

Let's look at Cleveland as a potential destination. It should first be noted that it's questionable whether they have enough to land a player of Leonard's caliber. They have the eighth overall pick in Thursday's draft, but it may take a lot more than that to get Leonard.

They also have Kevin Love, who is an All-Star still in his prime. But if they gave him up, they would then need to seek more help to surround Leonard and LeBron James, if James decides to stay. Though James and Leonard are both top-five players in the NBA, they still likely wouldn't be able to beat the Warriors unless they had another running mate. Those two plus Love and then you're talking.

Whether the Cavs have the goods to land Leonard or not, it's no wonder why they are trying for him. Getting Leonard, a two-time All-NBA selection, would likely be enough to retain James, the best player in the game. If James were to look around the league for a top-shelf running mate, he would be hard-pressed to find one better than Leonard.

That is assuming Leonard is healthy, of course. He did miss all but nine games this past season with a quadriceps injury. That injury was central in a saga of discord between him and the team. Until he hits the court again, Leonard offers no guarantees. Still, he may be worth the risk for Cleveland, as the alternative is potentially seeing James walk. 

If the Cavs got Leonard, that would probably solidify their standing as the best team in the Eastern Conference, even if they lost Love in the process. Leonard is better than Love and they would arguably have the two best players in the East. They may not have enough to beat the Warriors, but that would likely give them the edge over the young teams like Boston and Philly that have been nipping at their heels.

Sending Leonard to the Cavs would get him out of the Western Conference and that might be enticing to the Spurs. If they send him to the Lakers, his reported preferred destination, that could come back to bite them much more often than it would if he was traded to the East. Though putting him in Cleveland would form another very good team, they wouldn't affect the Spurs directly but for two regular season games, unless they were to meet in the NBA Finals.

The Spurs haven't indicated they will actually trade Leonard, but it does seem to be heading in that direction. It sounds like Cleveland will at the very least give it a shot. 

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Texas A&M big man Robert Williams likes potential fit with Wizards, John Wall

Texas A&M big man Robert Williams likes potential fit with Wizards, John Wall

In terms of the needs on their roster and the guys most likely to be available when they are on the clock at No. 15 in the first round, few players in this draft class seem as obvious a fit with the Washington Wizards more than Robert Williams of Texas A&M. So, it was no surprise that he not only visited them in Washington on Monday, but received the only individual public workout they have held during this year's predraft process.

Williams could be the answer to their longstanding quest for an athletic big man. No need to bring in five other guys for the usual six-player workout when Williams deserves a longer and more extensive look than most prospects they are considering.

The 20-year-old was put through a variety of drills Monday afternoon, just days before the 2018 NBA Draft. He likes the fit with Washington, if that's how things end up sorting out.

"I definitely feel like they could use a big like me, a defensive-style athletic big like me. I definitely see myself fitting here," he said.

Williams is one of the best big men in this year's draft. He is 6-foot-9 and 240 pounds with a 7-5 wingspan. He used that length to dominate in the paint at the college level.

Williams averaged a modest 10.4 points for the Aggies in 2017-18, but also 9.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks. That was his sophomore year. He averaged 8.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks as a freshman.

He was a shot-blocking force the day he stepped on campus and believes those skills will translate to the professional ranks. In the NBA, Williams believes he can thrive because his defensive versatility will be even more valuable in a day and age where switching is paramount.

"I feel like I can guard all positions. That’s one of my biggest attributes," he said. "It’s just about embracing it, having fun stopping a guard. Once you’re comfortable with it, you can do it."

Williams may adapt to the NBA quickly on the defensive end and that's where the Wizards need help the most. They haven't had a consistent rim-protector in years. Last season, point guard John Wall led the team in blocks per game.

Offense is where the questions lie with Williams. He wasn't a big scorer in college and does not have much of an outside shot. The fact he shot just 47.1 percent from the free throw line this past season suggests he has a lot of work to do before he can stretch the floor.

Williams will need to find a niche offensively, likely as a rim-runner off pick-and-rolls. He sees a lot of potential in a possible pick-and-roll pairing with Wall.

"He’s an elite passer and an elite guard. Coming off a pick-and-roll, you have to pay attention to him as well as have to pay attention to me as well. It’s a win-win situation," Williams said.

Williams believes his offensive game will open up with more space at the NBA level. The Wizards have Wall surrounded by three-point shooters in Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and Markieff Morris. Toss Williams into the middle and he could go to work in the paint doing the rest.

If Williams were drafted by the Wizards, he could look at Clint Capela of the Houston Rockets as a model to follow. Like Houston, the Wizards have two All-Star guards. An athletic big man who doesn't need plays run for him could be the perfect complement.

No one needs to tell Williams that, he is well-aware. He said that at nearly every stop during the predraft process Capela's name has come up.

"I knew that’s what you were going to say," Williams said to a reporter (raises hand) who asked about the Capela comparison.

Williams continued to say they are different players and it's not entirely fair to compare them. That exchange showed Williams has an edge to him, sort of like Morris. He's clearly not afraid to be honest when some players would not.

Despite downplaying the comparison, Williams can see what makes Capela successful.

"I’ve watched him. He’s a great player," Williams said. "He is around the right people. He just plays his role. He runs off a lot of screens. He gets up there and does what he has to do."

Williams is gearing up for Thursday's draft and trying to decide who he will walk the stage with, as the NBA has introduced a new tradition of each player walking with two people. He said it will likely be his mother and sister. Perhaps by the end of the night he will also walk that stage wearing a Washington Wizards hat.

For more on Williams, check out our extensive draft profile on him.


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