Wizards

Quick Links

Paul Pierce, Alan Anderson look back on brief time with Wizards

Paul Pierce, Alan Anderson look back on brief time with Wizards

The time Paul Pierce spent in D.C. was short, but his impact on and off the court was significant when the Wizards made a near-magical run in the Eastern Conference playoffs two seasons ago.

The time Alan Anderson spent in D.C. was short, and his impact on the court was minimal as Pierce's replacement in that follow-up disaster of a .500 season.

"There's a lot of moments that stand out for me," Pierce, 39, who'll be retiring after 19 years with the Los Angeles Clippers, said of his 2014-15 season in Washington. "Otto Porter, knowing I had an influence on him. Bradley Beal. John Wall. There's a lot of things I remember off the court just having a relationship with them... I keep up with them even today to see how they're doing. I talk to a few of the guys. Of course a lot of people are going to remember the things we provided in the playoffs."

The Wizards won 46 games that year and advanced to the semifinals only to lose in six games to the Atlanta Hawks. They'd swept the heavily favored Toronto Raptors in the first round, stole home-court advantage from the No. 1 seed Hawks but Wall broke his hand/wrist in the opener. That changed the series, keeping him out three games. 

For Anderson, who was signed after Pierce walked in free agency to play for his hometown team and the coach he won a championship with, it was not a glorious time. 

Pierce was gone the moment his three-pointer in Game 6 to force overtime vs. Atlanta was waved off because it came after the buzzer. Anderson longed for a second chance after he appeared in just 13 games of a season that left the Wizards outside of the postseason.

Anderson, 34, is now a role player for the Clippers, who the Wizards defeated 117-110 on Sunday for their biggest win in a 12-15 season. Pierce is his teammate. Neither played in that game. 

During Las Vegas Summer League, Anderson was working out to rehabilitate his troublesome left ankle and the Wizards visited him. The ankle required two surgeries in five months and the first came after his 2014-15 season with the Brooklyn Nets to remove bone spurs. A fragment, however, was mistakenly left behind and, according to league sources to CSNmidatlantic.com at the time, that caused a tendon to fray. 

"Personally, it was," Anderson said about re-signing with the Wizards being a priority as a result. "For them it wasn't. Whatever the reason that's fine. It's a job. It's a business." 

[RELATED: Beal continues to prove worthy of $128 million max contract]

Anderson has averaged 11.3 minutes in the seven games that he has appeared in for the Clippers, and 2.4 points on shooting 40% from three-point range. There were other options on the table for Anderson, who made $4 million when he signed for one year in Washington and now plays for the $1.3 million veteran minimum in Los Angeles.

"It wasn't that easy," Anderson said of playing at a discount. "I turned down some good money from other teams. Not as high caliber teams but teams I would've played a lot more and made a lot more money. Coming off the two ankle surgeries I did, you want to make sure this year you're not rushing into everything. With an explososive team we have I figured I was going to fit in. I came here with the mind-set be ready, be patient."

Though a lot of the pieces are different with the Wizards, some bad habits remain. For every win over the likes of the Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pitons, there are losses to the Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers with obscene points allowed.

As much as injuries contributed to 41-41 and the firing of then-coach Randy Wittman last season, the yo-yo effect has been there under new coach Scott Brooks. The Wizards have a thinner bench to begin with and injuries to Ian Mahinmi (right knee) and Jason Smith (right hamstring) have forced an undrafted rookie in Daniel Ochefu into action.

"We win four or five games. We lose four or five games. We win some big games, we lose to teams we shouldn't lose to," Anderson said in explaining last season. "You can't do that. Injuries or not.

"The rhyme or reason (for that) is your mind-set and your approach. You can't approach a Philly as a Philly. You approach them as if they're Cleveland or Golden State. That just goes with maturity."

Mind-set falls on the backcourt of Wall and Beal, both in their mid-20s, who have been playing at an All-Star level. On Monday, Beal missed a game-winning three-point shot to the Indiana Pacers, but he has strung together a career-high seven consecutive games with 20 points or more. Wall is averaging a double-double again.

They're in sync like never before. The duo may have "disliked" each other on the court– in Wall's own words – at times, but they've clearly moved past that. Anderson has been there for flareups with every team he has played with and it's many. He has played in Charlotte, Toronto and Brooklyn, too. He also has spent time playing professionally in Italy, Russia, Croatia, Israel and Spain. 

"Brothers always have a conflict with each other," Anderson said. "They just got to learn how to get past it. However they do that is on them. You're going to have bickering with every team. That actually builds the team."

Pierce only was complimentary of what he saw then and what he has seen since from the Wizards' backcourt, which could make the All-Star Game together for the first time. 

"I thought those guys got along pretty well" he said. "When you're losing and things aren't going your way, then little things get brought up. Sometimes that happens. I've been a victim of that in the past when playing with losing teams. That's all part of it."

[RELATED: Takeaways from Wizards' last-second loss to Pacers]

Quick Links

Raptors GM Masai Ujiri on staying in Toronto: 'In my mind, I'm here'

Raptors GM Masai Ujiri on staying in Toronto: 'In my mind, I'm here'

Just a few weeks ago, the Masai Ujiri-to-D.C. movement was gaining steam quickly. Just moments after Ujiri and the Toronto Raptors began celebrating their NBA Championship, reports began to swirl that the Wizards were prepared to aggressively pursue the GM.

Sources told NBC Sports Washington that there could be the possibility of a sort of mega-deal that went beyond just giving him control of the Wizards. But Wizards owner Ted  Leonsis denied earlier this month that the team had reached out, saying that "we have never planned in any way to ask for permission to speak to him during our process."

And on Tuesday, Uriji seemed to make it official that he will stay in Toronto.

"I love it here, my family loves it here. My wife loves it here, which is very important. My kids are Canadians. You want to win more, for me," Ujiri said on Tuesday during his end-of-season press conference.

"Yeah, I can continue to address teams wanting me and all those things. That's a blessing in life," Ujiri said. "For me the blessing is being wanted here and finding a place that makes you happy, and finding challenges that really make you grow as a person. This place has made me grow as a person."

"I identify with this place and I love it. So in my mind, I'm here."

On paper, Ujiri and the Wizards looked to be a good match. Washington could offer him money and control, while also allowing him to work with his "Basketball without Borders" program in D.C.

As NBC Sports' Tom Haberstroh explained recently, the Raptors late-season championship run could have messed up the timing and situation that could have lured Ujiri to a new team.

The Wizards made it through the NBA Draft without a new GM, but as July and free agency approach, the search may continue to ramp up.

The answer is still out there, it just may not be Masai Ujiri anymore.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS:

Quick Links

Bradley Beal on Wizards draftee Rui Hachimura: 'He's a monster'

Bradley Beal on Wizards draftee Rui Hachimura: 'He's a monster'

The Wizards added two pieces during the 2019 NBA Draft that franchise expects to be vital pieces of their future in Gonzaga's Rui Hachimura at No. 9 and Tennessee's Admiral Schofield at No. 42

Before Monday night's 2018-19 NBA Awards ceremony, NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller caught up with the two faces of the franchise, Bradley Beal and John Wall, to see what they thought of the new additions to the squad.

Beal had high praise for Hachimura.

"I didn't know much," Beal said on what he knew about the Gonzaga product prior to the draft. "But from what I've seen watching the draft and things I've seen pre-draft and things like that, he's a monster."

The praise did not stop there. 

"He plays hard, extremely hard," Beal said. "Hopefully, he can have an impact right away." 

While an immediate impact would be beneficial for a Wizards team that could use Hachimura's scoring (he averaged 19.7 points per game at Gonzaga), Beal understands that Hachimura is still a very raw player. After all, he's only been playing basketball for eight years.

"But at the same time, we want him to grow," Beal said on Hachimura. "We know he hasn't been playing too long. But that's something we can build off of and mold him into the player we need him to be. He has tremendous upside, and I'm excited to get going. Hopefully, come September, October he's ready to go."

While Beal may not have known too much about Hachimura, he had followed the other Wizards draft pick, Admiral Schofield, for quite some time. 

"I love his game; I loved him in college," Beal said on Schofield. 

Beal joked about Schofield's body type, wondering whether basketball is the sport the Wizards second-round pick should be playing.

"He's got a football body. He's built like a tight end, wide receiver," Beal said. "I'm definitely happy that we have him, a fellow SEC guy. Him and [Jordan] McRae are going to hit it off. He can shoot, he's athletic, so I'm definitely excited to have him as well."

While Wall did not go into as much detail as Beal about the Wizards draft class, he was just as excited about the two new additions.

"I think it's good," Wall said. "We added some pieces [in the draft], [we'll] see what we do in free agency to add some guys to bring back or we're going to go after somebody new. I think we'll be fine."

According to head coach Scott Brooks, both Beal and Wall can identify talent very well

"The thing I love about John and Brad: they love the game," Brooks said last week. "You can call them up, there could be high school players, WNBA players, it could be college players, it could be European players, they know them."

"It's like, 'don't you guys have a life?'" Brooks joked.

Wall spent most of his time with NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller discussing his Achilles rehab, where he revealed he is going to begin jogging soon. That's a good sign for the Wizards, even though Wall s expected to miss the majority of the 2019-2020 season.

In Hachimura and Schofield, the Wizards got two pieces that are not expected to contribute right away, but also potentially have the ability to do so. Earning high praise from the two most important players on the Wizards' roster is a good start for both of the Wizards 2019 NBA Draft selections. 

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: