Roger Mason is no longer a free agent.The veteran guard is also no longer a Wizard.The 31-year-old perimeter threat agreed to terms on a contract with the New Orleans Hornets, according to Yahoo Sports' Marc Spears.Last season Mason averaged 5.5 points and shot 38 percent from 3-point range, second on the Wizards behind swingman Cartier Martin. Most of all, the eight-year veteran provided guidance to a youthful roster,leadership in a locker room that needed more than anyone man could offer and a postgame talker the media could rely on for rationale thought.Though there was some clamor about keeping the D.C. area native around on what remains an extremelygreen backcourt - the Wizards projected top five guards have a combined eight years of NBA experience - the odds of a Mason return decreased with each subsequent transaction. In addition to drafting Bradley Beal, the Wizards re-signed Martin and signed free agent A.J. Price. With only one or perhaps two roster spots available, President Ernie Grunfeld may decide to hold off with any additional moves until the start of training camp.Joining a squad with Eric Gordon and rookie Austin Rivers in the backcourt, it lookslike Mason could be back in that mentoring and bench scoring role. He certainly has the experience.
When asked if his family had a motto, De'Andre Hunter summed it up in two words: "Family first."
"We have a great bond, we're really close and we all get along. I feel like that really helped me in the long run," the 2019 NBA Draft prospect told NBC Sports Washington for its miniseries I Am The Prospect. "We know we have each other's back, we always put each other before anyone else."
The Hunter family has always had De'Andre's back, supporting him from the days during his childhood when he'd wake them up early in the morning to play basketball, to the night he helped Virginia win its first NCAA title.
Things weren't always easy in the Hunter household. De'Andre's father, Aaron Hunter Sr., died when De'Andre was 7, forcing the entire family, especially his mother Priscilla, to take on more responsibility and bond together.
"My mom is the rock of the family. She does anything for every single one of us. No matter where she is or what she's doing, she's willing to help us in any kind of way," Hunter said. "And as far as my brother and sisters, they're the same way. They're really caring, and we ... really look after each other.
"In a family that's what you need, and we just always support each other, no matter what the circumstance is."
And as he grew up, De'Andre's older brother Aaron Jr. took on a more paternal role.
"Once my father passed away, he really stepped up," De'Andre said of Aaron. "He really taught me a lot of things that he went through. I didn't see him grow up, but I saw him become, I feel like, a man in some sense. Because he had to take care of our family in a certain way.
"He cares for me a lot, so I thank him a lot for everything he's taught me."
In fact, it was Aaron who De'Andre called upon when he got the disappointing news he would be redshirted his first year at UVA and thus ineligible to play that season.
"The decision to redshirt really hurt," Hunter said. "I didn't see it coming, but when coach (Tony Bennett) told me, I just took it."
"I told my brother, I probably complained to him a little bit but he just told me to use it in a beneficial way and don’t look at it in a negative way. I tried to do that, and I feel like in the long run it definitely helped me.
Over those next two seasons in Charlottesville, Hunter became a bonafide college star. He won the ACC's Sixth Man of the Year award during the 2017-18 season then earned the conference's Defensive Player of the Year award in 2018-19, not to mention leading the Cavaliers to a national championship, scoring a team-high 27 points in the title game against Texas Tech.
Hunter recalled how special it was having his family in the arena that night to celebrate with him.
"It meant a lot for them to come all the way out to Minnesota to watch me play," he said. "They took off from work, took off from things they probably had to do, just to come see me play. That means a lot to me because they really don't have to do that. But they were there for me."
Now, Hunter is preparing to take the next step into the NBA ranks. And when his name's called Thursday night at the draft, his family will be there cheering -- and probably crying -- for him.
"Draft night's gonna be really emotional. I don't know if I'm gonna cry or not, but I know a few members of my family will be crying, so that'll probably get to me a little bit," Hunter said with a smile. "It's gonna be a great moment for not only me but for my family as well."
"My mom's for sure gonna cry. My sisters might even cry, but I feel like Aaron might let a few tears out."
The 2019 NBA Draft takes place on Thursday, June 20. The Wizards hold the ninth overall pick. Here's everything you need to know...
When: 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York
TV: NBC Sports Washington will have Wizards-centric draft coverage starting at 6:30 p.m. on TV and the MyTeams app, the official broadcast is on ESPN
Wizards' picks: Ninth overall in first round with potential to add a second round pick via trade or by purchasing one from another team
Wizards needs: Rim protection, perimeter defense, forward depth, guard depth
What to watch for: The Wizards' best bet is probably to trade down for more picks, but it all depends on how the board shakes out. There is a chance a top prospect falls unexpectedly.
Point guard Coby White of North Carolina is one to keep an eye on. The Wizards worked him out this week in Washington despite him ranking higher than ninth on most mock drafts. Many expect him to go to Phoenix or Chicago ahead of the Wizards. But if he falls, that could become an easy decision, even with John Wall and Bradley Beal in the mix.
If White isn't there, their best choice may be either Sekou Doumbouya, Nassir Little, Jaxson Hayes or Bol Bol. All four would help them defensively and offer high upside.
The most controversial player is definitely Cam Reddish, who is a boom-or-bust prospect that may or may not be there when the Wizards are on the clock.
4. Pelicans (trade with Lakers)
10. Hawks (trade with Mavericks)
14. Celtics (trade with Kings)
1. Zion Williamson, Duke
2. Ja Morant, Murray State
3. R.J. Barrett, Duke
4. De'Andre Hunter, Virginia
5. Darius Garland, Vanderbilt
6. Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech
7. Coby White, North Carolina
8. Cam Reddish, Duke
9. Sekou Doumbouya, France
10. Nassir Little, North Carolina
11. Jaxson Hayes, Texas
12. Keldon Johnson, Kentucky
13. Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga
14. Bol Bol, Oregon
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