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Paul Pierce talks about his time with Wizards, and his future


Paul Pierce talks about his time with Wizards, and his future

Things you don't hear anymore in these parts: People questioning if the Wizards made the right decision by signing Paul Pierce last summer.

Things you will hear often whenever the Wizards' season end: People asking if Paul Pierce will remain in Washington next season.

"It's been nothing but love from the time I got off the airplane in the summer," Pierce told Comcast SportsNet's Chris Miller about his time with the Wizards.

Pierce explained that playing in D.C. is special for him as it allows the veteran to work with young players like Bradley Beal, John Wall and Otto Porter. 

"I feel like even if it's one year, two years, or three years I'm here, I feel like I'm going to have a relationship with these guys for a long, long time even after basketball," Pierce said. "It seems like we connect, and I connected with the city."

Pierce signed a two-year deal with the Wizards last July, many months before he became a local legend for his various truth-bombs during the playoffs. However, the second year of his contract is a player option. The veteran forward and future Hall of Famer turns 38 in October, meaning he's well into the back-nine of his career. Therefore, playing for a second NBA championship - he won one with the Celtics in 2008 - likely trumps just about everything else on his to-do list. 


Sure, the Wizards are on roll during the current postseason even with Tuesday's Game 2 loss in Atlanta. That's the not the same as being a true title contender, not yet anyway. Recall the Wizards labored over the final two-plus months of the regular season. Pierce initially wanted to reunite with his former Boston head coach Doc Rivers in Los Angeles with the Clippers. Put that altogether and there is (was?) genuine wonder about where Pierce sets up shop next season.

But based on Pierce's comments to Miller, apparently there is nothing to fret about in this regard. Playing for the Wizards fans, and with the Wizards young players, has been a joy for Pierce.

"They've embraced me, and I've embraced them. It's been fun."

Pierce mentioned two or three more years in Washington, which would run through the 2016-17 season. His presence would have no financial impact on the Wizards possibly landing Kevin Durant during free agency of 2016. The assumption has been Pierce serves as a bridge until Washington makes a play for and hopefully reels in Durant.

Maybe that's been wrong, just like perhaps there's been little reason to worry about whether Pierce returns next season.

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Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard out against Wizards

Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard out against Wizards

The Wizards will catch a break on Saturday night when they host the Toronto Raptors in the second game of their regular season, as Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard is being held out due to rest.

Leonard, who has been dominant so far for the 2-0 Raptors, is being limited in back-to-backs after he missed 73 games last season due to a quadriceps injury. The Raptors played the night before against the Celtics.

With Leonard out, the Raptors will likely rely on C.J. Miles and O.G. Anunoby at the small forward position. Shooting guard Delon Wright is also out with a shoulder injury.

Though Leonard and Wright are out of the mix, Toronto still has plenty of talent including All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry. Lowry is averaging 21 points, seven assists and 3.5 rebounds through two games. 

Serge Ibaka has been their third-leading scorer with 15 points per game to go along with 6.5 rebounds. They also acquired Danny Green in the Leonard deal and he's off to a strong start with 12.5 points and five rebounds per game.

Leonard's absence may be noticed more on the defensive end, as he is one of the best in the NBA on the perimeter. That could make things a bit easier for Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr.

The Wizards and Raptors next play on Nov. 23. That game is in Toronto.



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Three things to watch for in Wizards' first matchup with Raptors

Three things to watch for in Wizards' first matchup with Raptors

John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka and the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

Here are three things to watch...

Will Howard play?

Once again, we await word from head coach Scott Brooks on the status of Dwight Howard. Howard, who missed all of the Wizards' preseason with a piriformis injury, was a gametime decision for the opener on Thursday. He ended up not playing, but appeared very close to finally making his debut.

Saturday night could be a different story, though we won't know until shortly before gametime. The Wizards' training staff will evaluate him pregame and make the call. If he can't go, Ian Mahinmi will get the nod as starter like he did against Miami.

Need more Otto

Though it wasn't the reason why the Wizards lost to the Heat, it certainly stood out in the box score how Otto Porter Jr. went without a three-point attempt in the opener. Porter finished third in three-point percentage last season with a 44.1 clip. He simply has to be more involved in the offense.

It will be interesting to see what adjustment the Wizards make to create more opportunities for Porter, and how Porter responds. All parties involved insist it is a mix of several factors, including a need for Porter to simply be more aggressive. That won't be easy against a tough Raptors defense, but expect Porter to get up plenty of threes in this one.

Leonard is out

This game was set to be the first matchup between the Wizards and the revamped Raptors, who added perennial All-NBA selection Kawhi Leonard in the biggest trade of the offseason. But it turns out, Leonard will not play.

Toronto is resting Leonard, who played in only nine games all of last season due to a quadriceps injury. It's understandable, given the Raptors played the night before against the tough Boston Celtics.

With Leonard out, All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry will be a big focus. They also got guard Danny Green in the Leonard deal and he's off to an excellent start. He's averaging 12.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.5 steals while shooting 50 percent from three so far. Getting him in the trade was a very underrated move by Toronto.