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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]

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Former Wizard Jared Dudley: Time for a Wizards shake-up

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Former Wizard Jared Dudley: Time for a Wizards shake-up

Jared Dudley spent one season with the Washington Wizards. The core pieces on the current roster were there during that 2015-16 campaign. Based on that prior experience and a first-hand look Friday night, the Brooklyn Nets forward offered a candid assessment of the 5-10 squad. 

"I’m seeing a team that has been together too long,” Dudley told NBC Sports Washington following the Wizards’ 115-104 home loss. “They haven’t made progress, so it’s time to change things over there.”

John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter were teammates of Dudley for a full season. Markieff Morris joined the roster at the 2016 trade deadline. Washington failed to make the playoffs that season, but qualified in each of the next two and has reached the postseason in four of the five last years. 

The Wizards did not advance beyond the second round during any of those postseason appearances and lost in the first round last season after a 43-39 regular season. Following a 2-9 start, Washington won three in a row before falling to a scrappy Nets team that lost leading scorer Caris Levert earlier in the week to a gruesome ankle injury.

Dudley started and played 22 minutes in Brooklyn's win. The 12-year veteran's opinion on Washington included suggestions like extended use of a small-ball lineup. 

“I think (they have) good players, but sometimes, good players need different situations. For them, I think that it’s tough the way the league is changing. They play two bigs,” Dudley said about the combination of power forward Markieff Morris and center Dwight Howard. “In this day in age, Otto needs to play more four because he’s tall enough, more spacing.”

Facing a Brooklyn defense that leads the league in opponent mid-range shots, Washington often settled for such looks. The Wizards attempted a season-low 18 three-point attempts. 

The NBA rumor mill continually attempts to plot a new course for the Wizards. New York Times NBA insider Marc Stein reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves tried to “engage” Washington in trade talks for Jimmy Butler before shipping the All-Star guard to Philadelphia. “But the Wizards have kept Beal off limits amid their 4-9 start,” Stein reported earlier this week. “They would naturally prefer to trade the struggling Otto Porter, or perhaps even John Wall, but both possess hard-to-move contracts.”

Dudley sees the logic of moving at least one of those three players.

“I think they’ve had enough time, but they really haven’t (broken) through,” Dudley said. “I can see by the All-Star break or summer time one of these pieces moving. It’s going to be good for them. If it’s John, or Otto or Brad, one of them three, I think their next move is going to be good for both teams."
 

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Kelly Oubre Jr. is ready to 'take over the world' with new Converse shoe deal

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Kelly Oubre Jr. is ready to 'take over the world' with new Converse shoe deal

Kelly Oubre Jr. takes his style very seriously, perhaps to a point even further than the most fashionable of NBA players. He wants to be a figure in the industry someday as a designer of his own shoes and clothing line.

So when he approached the process of brokering a new shoe contract, he took into consideration factors that went well beyond the average player and outside of the mainstream. He wanted more than a basketball shoe. He wanted a lifestyle brand and a partnership that wasn't solely about basketball.

Oubre left Adidas to sign a new mutli-year deal this week with Nike and Converse. He will wear Nike shoes in the meantime, until a concept made by Converse is ready for game action. Then, he will become the only NBA player to wear the brand on the floor.

"Everyone knows me and I'm a different individual," he said. "Converse is reinventing themselves in the basketball world. I will be the only athlete this year flying the flag. I'm very excited to be able to represent."

Converse has a history in the game of basketball, of course. Before Nike and Adidas took over, Converse was the dominant brand for most of the 20th century, up until the 1980s. Their Chuck Taylor All Stars maintain a legacy today in the casual shoe market.

The deep basketball history of Converse appealed to Oubre.

"It's old school. It started with basketball, then it went to the rock stage, then it went to people wearing them without any thought to what the foundation of the brand was," he said.

Oubre said there is no release date yet for the new-age Converse basketball shoe. He expects to have some input on the design of future shoes and said it's part of why he chose them.

Oubre plans to begin his own clothing line at some point with the working title of 'Dope Soul.' He told NBC Sports Washington on Friday that it is "coming soon," but couldn't provide any further details. 

Oubre had restrictions under his previous contract with Adidas and had been looking forward to finding a new deal that would allow for such things. It sounds like he may be afforded that freedom.

For now, with Converse, Oubre is excited to chart a new path with an unconventional company.

"You can't really define Converse because we've done everything and we're about to take over the world," he said.