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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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Bradley Beal snubbed in NBA 2K20 ratings

Bradley Beal snubbed in NBA 2K20 ratings

Bradley Beal has been snubbed yet again.

First All-NBA, now Beal was not even included in the NBA 2K20 top 20 rankings, which were released on a livestream on Monday.

LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard topped the rankings, followed by Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant and James Harden. 

In what we're sure was a completely scientific poll, SLAM Gaming asked its followers if NBA2K got the rankings right. And, at least as of post time, nearly two-thirds of participants said no. 

Ahead of Beal in the rankings included Kemba Walker, Donovan Mitchell and Jimmy Butler. Zion Williamson was the top rookie in the ratings. 

Beal averaged 25.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game last season. That's clear above Mitchell (23.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.2 assists per game) and Butler (18.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists per game).

The ratings are reportedly determined by a statistically based formula, though that hasn't ever stopped fans from expressing their ire at the game's rating gurus. 

Including John Wall in 2017. 

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Wizards Summer League superlatives: Rui Hachimura, Troy Brown Jr. were the stars

Wizards Summer League superlatives: Rui Hachimura, Troy Brown Jr. were the stars

The 2019 Las Vegas Summer League is in the books and this one was much more interesting for the Wizards than they have been in recent years. This year, they had a host of first and second-round picks play for them, as well as some players they recently acquired in their trade with the Lakers.

Here are some superlatives to put a bow on the Wizards' time in Vegas...

Best player: Troy Brown Jr.

Though he only played one game and one quarter before he was shut down with a left knee contusion, Brown was quite clearly the best player on the Wizards' Summer League roster. In his only full game, he put up 18 points and 15 rebounds. Though he only shot 40.6 percent in his brief time in Vegas, he looked like a guy who was advanced beyond the league's level of competition.

For Brown, the question is how much it matters because he essentially did what he should do as a second-year player. It is encouraging and he should draw confidence from the experience. But now he has to show he can produce like that in real NBA games.

Best newcomer: Rui Hachimura

Hachimura only played three of the Wizards' five games and in his first two outings produced uneven results. But his third game was pure dominance, as he posted 25 points, nine rebounds, two blocks and two steals. He proved a quick learner by adjusting and improving game-by-game.

All in all, it was a solid start to Hachimura's career. He displayed versatility and smarts both on offense and defense. It should give Wizards fan hope he can contribute as a rookie.

Most improved: Isaac Bonga

Many of the players on the Wizards' roster were not returning from last summer, but Bonga showed a nice leap year-over-year from what he did for the Lakers in 2018. Though he wasn't one of the Wizards' best players, he ended up with solid numbers of 8.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. He shot 45.5 percent from the field in 20.2 minutes of action.

The best thing Bonga showed for the Wizards is his athleticism. He is a full 6-foot-9, yet has the mobility of a guard. He is a long ways away from being NBA-ready, but at 19 years old gives the Wizards an intriguing prospect to stash in the G-League.

Needs improvement: Issuf Sanon, Moe Wagner, Admiral Schofield

It wasn't the best Summer League showing for Sanon, the Wizards' 2018 second-round pick. He only played a total of 48 minutes in four games and shot 18.2 percent with 1.5 points per game. The Wizards were experimenting with his position, playing him both at point and off the ball, and he didn't look comfortable doing either.

Granted, Sanon's biggest strength at this point is his defense, but he doesn't seem to have any NBA-ready offensive skills. Unless he gets up to speed quickly, he will have to become really, really good on defense to make the leap overseas.

Like Bonga, Wagner debuted after coming over in the Lakers trade. But Wagner didn't have the best time in Las Vegas, as he shot just 31 percent from the field and 7.1 percent from three. It was a small sample size of just four games, but Wagner is known as a shooter and didn't look like one in the Summer League. He also had trouble on defense against quicker match-ups.

Schofield, the Wizards' 2019 second-round pick, shot poorly (38.5 FG%, 22.2 3PT%) and struggled to find his role on defense. He has some intriguing qualities, but it might take him some time to figure out how to compete against NBA athletes while lacking height and quickness to play the way he did in college.

Biggest surprise: Jemerrio Jones

Perhaps this should not be surprising because it is what Jones is known for, but his rebounding really stood out. He played only about 27 minutes in three games, yet pulled in 13 boards. That breaks out to 4.3 rebounds in 8.9 minutes per game, or about one rebound every other minute. He averaged 17.4 rebounds per 36 minutes.

Keep in mind he is only 6-foot-5. Based on efficiency, Jones was the Wizards' best rebounder and he is the size of a shooting guard. He has a lot to improve on before he can stick around in the NBA, but it will be fun watching him grab 15-plus boards on the regular this season with the Go-Go. 

Biggest disappointment: Wizards' opponents

If there was one prevailing theme in the 2019 Summer League it was teams holding out their top draft picks either due to actual injuries or the fear they will suffer one. The Wizards saw this firsthand. They even did it themselves by keeping Hachimura out of two of their games.

The Wizards played the Pelicans without first overall pick Zion Williamson or Jaxson Hayes, the eighth pick, or even Nickeil Alexander-Walker, the 17th pick. They played the Hawks without De'Andre Hunter (fourth pick) or Cam Reddish (10th pick). And the Nets and Clippers didn't have any top draft picks of note.

The Wizards did get to see third overall pick R.J. Barrett and the Knicks in their final game. New York also had Mitchell Robinson and Kevin Knox, as well as Iggy Brazdeikis, who was a Summer League standout. But neither Hachimura or Brown played in that game for Washington.

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