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Scott Brooks embraces 'cool experience' in his return to Oklahoma City

Scott Brooks embraces 'cool experience' in his return to Oklahoma City

Scott Brooks tried his best to put "coachspeak" aside Tuesday, before the Wizards leave to play a game at the Oklahoma City Thunder. It's where he coached for seven seasons until he was fired in 2015. 

"I’m actually looking forward to it. I’m not going to stand here and say it’s just one of 82 games, but it is one of 82 games," Brooks said with his team taking a three-game road trip that includes stops at the San Antonio Spurs and Brooklyn Nets. "I had great memories with that organization. I started off coaching a lot of young players that I really respect the work that they put in. We accomplished a lot as a group. We were one of the youngest teams in NBA history get to the NBA Finals. … We had a great run. Unfortunately that ended for me but that’s the business we’re in."

Except for the first season when Brooks took over, the Thunder always had a winning record. They won 50 games or more four times and two seasons there were exceptions. In 2012 when they made the NBA Finals, it was a 66-game season because of the lockout. The Thunder won 47. In his final season, Brooks had injuries to his All-Stars Russell Westbrook (15 games missed) and Kevin Durant (55). They still won 45 games but missed the postseason.

When Brooks got the bad news from GM Sam Presti, he was at his home in Newport Beach, Calif. He never properly said goodbye. He spent the 2015-16 season out of the NBA.

"I’ve been cut a lot of times as a player. I’ve fought back and made teams. In coaching it’s a different animal," said Brooks, who has the Wizards out to a 6-10 start. "When you get fired, I was in California. I didn’t get a chance to see the people that meant so much to me and so much to our success as a team. I get to see a lot of them when I go back. Even the ushers, to see Betty, Dean, Coach, Anna, those are the people that behind the scenes make your organization work.

"It’s going to be a cool experience. Don’t know how they’re going to respond. I know the people. The people in Oklahoma City are phenomenal. I’ve learned so much about myself during that time. Now I even follow college football. Never did that. OU, OSU football is important there."

While Brooks insisted that he communicates with everyone he came in contact with at Oklahoma City, even those who have gone on to other organizations, he has spoken "very little" with Presti. 

He was replaced by Billy Donovan who left the University of Florida and led the Thunder to the conference finals last season. James Harden left long ago. Then it was Brooks and this summer Durant exited. 

There's a good chance Brooks' return is received best. They won 62% of their games with him (338-207). 

"That’s a little ambitious," he said, "if I’m thinking they’re going to give me an ovation."


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Wizards waive three, sign 2017 first-rounder Anzejs Pasecniks

Wizards waive three, sign 2017 first-rounder Anzejs Pasecniks

As the NBA regular season approaches, the Washington Wizards seek to finalize their roster.

The Wizards announced on Wednesday that they have waived Phil Booth, Justin Anderson and Jemerrio Jones. The team also signed 2017 first-rounder Anzejs Pasecniks and small forward Jalen Jones, the team announced.

Pasecniks and Jones were signed to Exhibit 10 contracts, meaning that if they are waived, they will have the opportunity to play for the Go-Go, the Wizards' G-League affiliate. Booth was on an Exhibit 10 deal, so he will report to the Go-Go after being waived.

Pasecniks, a 7-foot center from Latvia, was the 25th overall selection from the 2017 draft. The Orlando Magic drafted him and moved him to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for draft picks. The 76ers renounced his rights in June.

Pasecniks played on the Wizards summer league team, averaging 4.0 points and 5.3 rebounds. Jalen Jones has averaged 4.8 points and 2.3 rebounds while shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc in 32 games over two seasons with three teams.


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John Wall embracing role as assistant coach during injury rehab

John Wall embracing role as assistant coach during injury rehab

WASHINGTON -- John Wall has already made enough money during his basketball career to last a lifetime and his new supermax contract worth $170 million is just kicking in. When he is done playing in the NBA, he doesn't have to do anything at all if he doesn't want to.

But there is at least a small part of Wall that believes coaching could be in his future. He loves the game enough to not rule out the possibility.

This year will give him a taste of what being a coach is all about. While he rehabs his ruptured left Achilles, he will serve as an unofficial assistant to head coach Scott Brooks. Wall will be asked to break down film with players, advise on plays to run and help the team's young point guards in practice.

Wall isn't sure as of today whether he wants to coach when his playing days are over. But he may have an answer in just a few months.

"I think this year will tell me whether I can be a coach or not," Wall told NBC Sports Washington on the Wizards Talk podcast. 

"I think you have to have a lot of patience and you've gotta know how to interact with every player. Every player's attitudes and character and mood swings are totally different. I learned from when a coach tried to coach me when I was young and I wasn't the guy to coach."

Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard envisions Wall as an important part of the locker room, even when he isn't playing. Part of his role may include some tough conversations with players. As Sheppard says, Wall may be able to deliver some messages that resonate more from a peer than if they came from a coach. 

Wall knows he can help in that regard. He has long been a vocal presence for the Wizards and had to assume the role as a team leader at an early age. After coming in as the No. 1 overall pick, he was a franchise player from the time he was 19 years old.

Wall's personality may also lend itself to those duties. He is very honest, whether it be with teammates or the media. 

"I like to speak my mind," he said. "It's like my momma always told me, 'I'd rather you speak your mind and say what you want to say, but say it in a respectful manner and a respectful way.'"

Wall, in fact, has a detailed philosophy on being honest. He doesn't like to lie whether it's in a media setting, to teammates or in everyday life.

It's not quite a Jim Carrey in 'Liar, Liar' deal, but Wall sees no point in beating around the bush. If he has something to say to a teammate or the media, he will say it.

"I don't know how to not give you the truth," he said. "What I've learned is that when you lie, you've gotta remember that lie exactly the way you said it for the next 12 people you tell it to. So, why make it that tough?"

Wall is set to miss at least the first few months of the Wizards' 2019-20 season and he could be sidelined the entire year. He said he hopes to have a similar impact that Kristi Tolliver did with the Mystics this past season where she remained active as a veteran leader in the locker room despite not being able to help the team on the floor for weeks due to a knee injury.

Missing so much time due to injury is not the ideal situation for Wall, but he plans to make the most of it.

"It will make my game a lot smarter and better for when I come back," he said.