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Pierce talks future - and sounds positive-ish

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Pierce talks future - and sounds positive-ish

Paul Pierce hinted at retirement in the aftermath of the Wizards series-season loss to the Hawks on May 15. Then he went radio silent, skipping the media during exit interviews. From there came general reports about the Los Angeles native possibly, if not likely opting out of the final contract year with Washington for a shot with the Clippers.

FInally, Pierce resurfaced this week as a guest on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio. During his appearance on “The Players Tribune” show, the future Hall of Famer discussed when his decision might come - over the next few weeks, Pierce said - and how the season ended. Yes, disappointment lingers, but Pierce sounded rather optimistic about the Wizards.

“Man, it was a good run,” Pierce said. “We really have a really good young team, and a couple budding superstars. It was tough. It especially really hurt us when John [Wall] broke his hand. Even though he came back, that really kind of hurt our rhythm, because we [were] playing so well. We felt like we were the better team if we had stayed healthy, but we lost some heartbreaking games.

“You know how the playoffs are,” Pierce continued. “Every game is close, and it all came down to the end, but I’m happy with the way guys fought. Nobody expected us to beat the Raptors. I thought we were better than Atlanta. We fell up short, but I really like our team, I really like the young budding stars. And we’re definitely disappointed, and would have gave Cleveland probably a better challenge than Atlanta, I think, but it was tough.”

Parsing words time. As DC Sportsbog noted (also h/t for finding the interview), that's a lot of present-tense in those words, "we" and us. Seems positive, but who knows the truth, other than perhaps Pierce, of course.

[MORE PIERCE Grading Paul Pierce's play for 2014-15 season

Pierce, 37, was then asked about how he's gearing up for big decisions coming up this summer. He must let the Wizards know about whether he'll play the final year of his contract ahead of the July 1 start to free agency.

It starts with a family trip to Mexico, Pierce noted, during which discussions about whether to continue his 17-year career will take place.

“These seasons, as you get older, they just are so long and draining," Pierce said. "This last playoffs really took a lot out of me, not only physically but emotionally, because I think I put so much into the game that it takes a piece of you. It’s really all got to do with how my mental state of mind’s gonna be this summer. Because I do feel like I can still play this game. I mean, I showed that this year, that I still have something left in the tank. But it’s just the mental part of getting ready in the summer and getting ready for a long year. Those are the things I’ve got to think about. My body is starting to finally heal. ...I'll probably know something in the next couple of weeks."

Later in the interview and perhaps another example of Pierce's fondness for the team, he explained the relationship with Washington's starry young backcourt tandem of John Wall and Bradley Beal.

“I didn’t know how much of a student of the game John was and Brad was,” Pierce said. “They really love the game, they watch it all the time, they watch college, they love the game of basketball. On the bus drives, on the airplane rides, that’s where we develop the chemistry: playing cards in the back of the bus, going out to dinners. We had times during the season where we had team dinners at least once a month; they [were] like they really didn’t do that too much, so we tried to implement those things and just form a good bond with them.

“And the good thing is, these guys know I’ve been in the NBA 17 years, so I’ve got a lot of stories to give them. And when I give them old stories, they want to know how was KG, how was all the former guys I played with. And they’d just sit around the locker room and we’d just talk about it, and I think right there develops the chemistry: the respect they have for me, but also the respect I have for them.”

The discussion veered into other topics including the NBA Finals (Pierce picked the Cavaliers) and playing against legends like Michael Jordan (on the Wizards) and Karl Malone. at the end, Pierce concluded with what's clearly becoming his signature phrase. "I called game."

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Wizards' third pre-draft workout to feature local stars including GW's Yuta Watanabe

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Wizards' third pre-draft workout to feature local stars including GW's Yuta Watanabe

The Wizards will hold their third pre-draft workout on Thursday at Capital One Arena, this time featuring four local standouts out of the six players attending. Highlighting that group is Yuta Watanabe of George Washington, the Atlantic-10 Defensive Player of the Year.

Here is the full list with notes on each player...

Phillip Carr, F, Morgan State (6-9, 205)

Carr averaged 13.7 points and 9.3 rebounds this past season at Morgan State in Maryland. He shot 84.6 percent from the free throw line, excellent for a big man.

Potential fit with Wizards: candidate for summer league or G-League team as undrafted free agent

James Daniel III, G, Tennessee (6-0, 172)

Originally from Hampton, Va., Daniel III played four years at Howard University in D.C. before transferring to Tennessee as a redshirt senior. He was the MEAC Player of the Year in his last healthy season at Howard. Daniel III averaged 5.6 points in 35 games for the Volunteers.

Potential fit with Wizards: candidate for summer league or G-League team as undrafted free agent

Marcus Derrickson, F, Georgetown (6-7, 250)

Derrickson hails from nearby Bowie, Md. He played three years with the Hoyas and averaged 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and shot 46.5 percent from three this past season. 

Potential fit with Wizards: candidate for summer league or G-League team as undrafted free agent

Junior Etou, F, Tulsa (6-8, 235)

Originally from the Republic of Congo, Etou went to high school at Bishop O'Connell in Arlington, Va. He is Serge Ibaka's cousin and didn't start playing basketball until he was 15. Etou averaged 15.0 points and 7.9 rebounds this past season.

Potential fit with Wizards: candidate for summer league or G-League team as undrafted free agent

Junior Robinson, G, Mount St. Mary's (5-5, 150)

The Northeast Conference Player of the Year, Robinson averaged 22.0 points and 4.8 assists this past season. He was a four-year starter at Mount St. Mary's.

Potential fit with Wizards: candidate for summer league or G-League team as undrafted free agent

Yuta Watanabe, F, George Washington (6-9, 205)

One of the best basketball players to ever come from Japan, Watanabe was a defensive standout for the Colonials who developed into a solid scorer by his senior year. This past season, he averaged 16.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. He is known in Japan as 'The Chosen One' and both of his parents played basketball professionally. NBC Sports Washington first reported he would work out with the Wizards this week.

Potential fit with Wizards: candidate for summer league or G-League team as undrafted free agent; best chance for NBA is as defensive specialist

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Wizards' second pre-draft workout highlights quest for shooting, raises question at point guard

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Wizards' second pre-draft workout highlights quest for shooting, raises question at point guard


The Wizards held their second pre-draft workout at Capital One Arena on Wednesday and the theme of this session was shooting. They hosted six players, four of which shot 40 percent or better for their college careers. Not 40 percent for their final season, like they developed a shot over the years, 40 percent for their careers.

Those four would be Aaron Holiday of UCLA, a likely first-round pick, plus likely second-round picks Devonte' Graham and Sviatoslave Mykhailiuk of Kansas, and Zach Thomas of Bucknell who may go undrafted.

One of the outliers was Moe Wagner of Michigan, who shot 39.4 percent as a junior. The other was Johnathan Williams, who shot 33.3 percent from long range in college, but impressed in the workout by knocking down more shots than expected.

Wizards executives raved about the amount of made shots in this workout and the players they chose to host help demonstrate that shooting is a need the Wizards are hoping to address. Head coach Scott Brooks said as much in his final meeting with the media following their playoff loss.

Here are some notes on the players that addressed reporters on Wednesday...

Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

 - The brother of NBA players Jrue and Justin, Holiday said he is aiming to find the same success as them at the professional level. Both are good defensive players and Holiday said that is a big part of his game: 

"No pressure at all. I'm here to make my own name for myself... We all like to play defense... I just try to watch how they read guys and force guys into bad plays."

Holiday was informed his brother, Jrue, had just been named All-Defense. He was happy for him, of course.

"That's awesome. That's actually really good. I thought he would do it, too. Obviously, he's a great defender. Both of my brothers do well."

 - Bringing in Holiday was interesting because he is expected to be a first round pick and plays point guard. The Wizards, of course, already have an All-Star point guard in John Wall. Holiday acknowledged that fact, but believes he can play with both Wall and All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal:

"It was obviously a question of why they would want me, but at the same time I know they need help on the backend, coming off the bench and playing high minutes and producing while John and them aren't on the court. Or, even playing with John Wall out there... with John and Bradley Beal out there, I could space the court pretty well for them."

Holiday would have no problem beginning his career as a bench player, if that's what happens:

"If the coach tells me to come off the bench, play a lot of minutes and get other people involved, that's what I will do. I also can play off the ball as well. I think I fit pretty good."

The Wizards taking a point guard in the first round is not that crazy of an idea. They have long been in need of a viable backup point guard and Fred VanVleet of the Raptors showed how much a really good backup can help.

Moritz Wagner, C, Michigan

 - Wagner worked out with the Bulls first and has the Nets up next. He said the Wizards workout was more intense than the Bulls, which is something we heard from many prospects last year. Washington apparently puts a greater emphasis on physical conditioning than other teams.

 - A native of Germany, and a seven-footer who shoots threes, naturally Wagner grew up a big fan of Mavs great Dirk Nowitzki:

"He was kind of our MJ. He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball. He's from where I'm from, too. It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

 - Questions for Wagner surround his defense and whether he can protect the rim, as he wasn't a shot-blocker in college. Wagner said he is hoping to show teams how his mobility can help on that end of the floor:

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen. Especially with the way the league is going; switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Devonte' Graham, G, Kansas

 - Graham also worked out with the Bulls first. He has the Suns, Hawks, Rockets and Grizzlies up next. He expects to work out for 13 or 14 teams in total.

 - Graham is from Raleigh, just like Wall who was in attendance. Wall and Graham sat next to each other to chat after the workout was over:

"We're from the [area code] 919 and we all stick together. I hit him up last night."

 - Graham also knows Wizards forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. very well. They were roommates as freshmen at Kansas:

"He was a goofy dude. That was my boy, though."

 - Graham said he has been talking to Jazz star rookie Donovan Mitchell about the draft process, as he and Mitchell share the same agent.

MORE WIZARDS: 

- Diallo visits: Is the Kentucky star a good fit?
- Turgeon talks: Maryland coach talks 2018 draft
- NBA mock draft: Post combine edition

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