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Takeaways from Wizards' blowout win over OKC Thunder

Takeaways from Wizards' blowout win over OKC Thunder

The Wizards allowed Russell Westbrook to beat them the last time these teams met. On Monday, they frustrated him into one of his worst games of the season and blew out the Oklahoma City Thunder, 120-98, in the third sellout at Verizon Center in front of 20,356.

Bradley Beal (22 points) jump-started the Wizards by making 6 of 7  three-pointers while John Wall (15 points, 14 assists) orchestrated the offense as they’ve won 19 of 20 at home to avenge an overtime loss in Oklahoma City on Nov. 30. In that game, Russell Westbrook hit a three-pointer to force the extra session and win 126-115.

This time, Washington (33-21) left no doubt. The home record is 23-7, the most wins in franchise history before the All-Star break with one game remaining Thursday vs. the Indiana Pacers. The previous high was 21 in 1978-79.

Westbrook (17 points, four assists) was kept under control, shooting just 5-for-19 and and playing just 24 minutes. No other starter for the Thunder scored in double figures with Andre Roberson, Domantas Sabonis, and Victor Oladipo combining to score 12 points. Steven Adams (nine points, 11 rebounds) was their only other significant contributor.

Markieff Morris (game-high 23 points, six rebounds) and Marcin Gortat (12 points, three blocks) dominated inside. Otto Porter (18 points, 12 rebounds) had his 10th double-double while Wall posted his 34th. Trey Burke (11 points) and Jason  Smith (nine points, six rebounds) led a bench that added 30 points.

All five starters for Washington scored in double figures for an NBA-leading 21st time.

--The Wizards made 63 percent of their shots in the first half when they led 67-54. When the third quarter began, the Wizards went on a 24-3 run that was highlighted by a between-the-legs assist from Wall to Porter in transition for a dunk. Oklahoma City missed 24 shots in a row, including the end of the second quarter.

--Gortat’s help behind Wall to keep Westbrook out of the paint was exceptional. Westbrook didn’t have those runs to the rim where he dunked without traffic. The Wizards kept him angled from the rim and Gortat had three blocks in the first 24 minutes. They began the game by getting Gortat vs. Adams in isolations and he made both shots.

--Beal had the Thunder’s best one-on-one defender, Roberson, in foul trouble early. He attacked his closeout on the three-point line from the corner and Roberson had his second foul less than three minutes in.

--Morris was able to isolate at his position, too, adding to the difficulty the Thunder had in putting out the multiple fires being set all over the floor. He made 6 of 9 in the first half in his matchup with Sabonis, who wasn't strong enough and couldn't stay in front of Morris.

--Wizards coach Scott Brooks had to go back to most of his starters after his reserves played sloppy to begin the fourth. They scored 101 through the first three quarters but 23 turnovers for the game are too many. The Thunder only could turn those into 14 points.

--Wall entered the game with a sore left ankle that had kept him from practicing but only was needed for 30 minutes. Beal had foul trouble early but only was needed for 23 to get his damage done. Beal also got his 22 points on just eight shots.

[RELATED: Crowd goes berserk as Wall hits Porter with between-the-legs assist]

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Ted Leonsis' patience in GM search is a calculated risk with potential to backfire

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Ted Leonsis' patience in GM search is a calculated risk with potential to backfire

The decision for who will run the Wizards front office long-term is not imminent. In fact, it may not even be that close.

That's according to majority owner Ted Leonsis, who again displayed a surprising level of patience in his months-long process to replace Ernie Grunfeld, this time in an interview with the Washington Post. Leonsis says he does not expect to finalize the hire until after the start of free agency on June 30.

That effectively means that if they hire someone from outside the organization, that person will have little to no impact on the team this offseason. That may sound like hyperbole, but just look at the calendar.

The NBA Draft is on Thursday. The deadline on Jabari Parker's $20 million team option is June 29. Free agency will begin on June 30 and qualifying offers for restricted free agents are due that day as well.

By the second week of July, the Las Vegas Summer League will be in full swing. But the NBA offseason, at least the most important parts of it, will be pretty much over. 

The Wizards will have already made their draft pick(s) and held the press conference. They will have likely settled matters one way or another with restricted free agents Tomas Satoransky, Thomas Bryant and Bobby Portis. And by then, the phone could be ringing off the hook with trade offers for Bradley Beal.

Leonsis, though, is continuing to take the longview, knowing no one will really care in a few years if he nails the hire and the franchise is quickly steered back onto the right course.

The drawn out timeline raises many questions and the most obvious one is what they are waiting for. The NBA Finals are over. If they were waiting to talk to someone involved in that series, they can do that now. 

Maybe he wants to see how interim president Tommy Sheppard fares in his first draft as the top executive. Maybe all of this, the draft and free agency process, is a test.

Maybe he plans to hire someone from outside the organization, but feels that installing them now wouldn't be good timing. Leonsis hasn't offered specifics in that regard.

At this point, it seems clear the best way to make this a productive offseason from a roster-building perspective is to promote Sheppard. He has been carrying out his vision and will do so through at least the start of free agency.

The Wizards won't have a ton of money to spend, but they will have some. Sheppard is going to be making the pitch and signing players to be part of the Wizards' future.

Someone else is just going to take it over after that? That doesn't make a ton of sense, unless Leonsis is okay with punting this offseason with his eyes on the bigger picture.

But also, consider the fact this isn't just a normal offseason. They aren't your typical team hitting the reset button. They have two All-Star players signed to large contracts, John Wall to a supermax deal and Bradley Beal to a max.

This offseason should be the start of laying the groundwork for life with Wall after his Achilles surgery. And if they have any hope of signing Beal to another contract, they need to show some signs of progress.

Late in the regular season, Beal was asked whether he would sign an extension with the Wizards and he said: "I wanna be able to know that we're going in the right direction in the future."

Beal said that in the context of a potential supermax contract worth approximately $194 million over four years. Now they can only offer him a smaller deal worth about $111 million over three years.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Tuesday the Wizards' intention to offer Beal the $111 million contract this summer. But if he wasn't a guarantee to accept the larger deal, then we know how he feels about the lesser one.

Beal has expressed his loyalty to the Wizards in numerous, sometimes-extreme ways. He has said everything from wanting to retire in a Wizards jersey to wanting to die in a Wizards jersey. He told NBC Sports Washington in February he wouldn't request a trade.

But he wasn't blowing smoke about wanting to see the team improve. Every indication from those familiar with his plans suggests he meant what he said. He is entering his eighth season and has already made plenty of money. He wants to win.

With that in mind, they can't really afford to botch this offseason. And if they have hopes of signing him long-term, they probably can't tear everything down around him for a rebuild. 

That makes the patience Leonsis is showing so interesting. There are still ways to ultimately get this process right. But the longer they wait, the more they will potentially sacrifice.


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What It Means: Wizards reportedly expected to make extension offer to Bradley Beal

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What It Means: Wizards reportedly expected to make extension offer to Bradley Beal

Despite the litany of teams who would love to get their hands on Bradley Beal this offseason, Washington has so far remained committed to keeping Bradley Beal a Wizard.

And when he's eligible in July, they plan to offer him a three-year, $111 million extension, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.  

"He's eligible for a three-year, $111 million extension," Wojnarowski said during ESPN's televised mock draft special. "I'm told it's the team's intention to offer that up to him and try and move forward."

Keeping Beal long-term may wind being a smart move, as NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig wrote this week. The extension would lock Beal up for the next five years and secure him and John Wall -- once he's fully recovered from offseason Achilles surgery -- as the Wizards' backcourt for the foreseeable future. 

The offer may seem financially burdensome, considering the Wizards just signed John Wall to a massive supermax extension that starts this season. But although the Wizards are currently strapped for cash, there's hope on the horizon. Ian Mahinmi's $15.6 million deal and Dwight Howard's $5.4 million deal expire after the 2019-2020 season.

The Wizards could decline Jabari Parkers $20 million team option and let Bobby Portis walk in restricted free agency this offseason. If both those happen, the Wizards could open up cap space for Beal's extension.

Considering John Wall is out for likely the entire next season and the Wizards still don't have a GM, their best move might be to lock in what proven production they have.