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Unofficial coach Alan Anderson redirects 'relentless' energy


Unofficial coach Alan Anderson redirects 'relentless' energy

A staple on the Wizards' sideline during the 2015-16 season is the highest-paid assistant coach in the NBA. Alan Anderson, who has been unable to play because of of surgically repaired left ankle, goes on every road trip as he has found himself in the role of motivator and mediator.

"Timeouts, shootarounds, practices, even though he's not able to participate with those guys he's been a good sounding board," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "He puts across to them what he sees during a game. It's been worthwhile him going on the road trips with us to add some leadership."

When Kris Humphries made a career-high five three-pointers in a game vs. the Orlando Magic, he credited Anderson's insight with helping him take advantage of the defense. Last week when the Wizards were being routed by the Portland Trail Blazers, Anderson got in between a spat on the bench between Nene and Bradley Beal after the big man drew agitated about him not moving off the ball to create a passing angle. 

Sometimes, Anderson's animated behavior can be the most entertaining part of games.

"I just want to be with the team. When I'm not playing I want to be with the team some way, somehow," Anderson, 33, said. "Even though my energy isn't on the court, playing with them I can still bring some insight when the come off the court and give them some good positive energy.

"I just try to cheer my team on. It's good to always have some guys in your corner on the road especially. ... I know I like it when I'm playing to see you get your team going. I know they like it, too."

The Wizards' bench has been full of players out of uniform. This week, that includes Otto Porter (hip), Kris Humphries (knee) and Drew Gooden (calf). 

Anderson, who could stay behind on road trips to rehabilitate, has been working out and was on his way to do some individual drills after morning shootarounds. He had surgery for bone spurs in his left ankle in May after his season with the Brooklyn Nets ended. As he tried to work his way back on the court for training camp, Anderson's discomfort persisted and it was determined he still had a bone fragment that had to be removed. That procedure was performed in October.

He was added in free agency on a one-year deal to add depth to the wing, which already had Porter and rookie Kelly Oubre. A veteran who has had playoff success in Brooklyn, next to Paul Pierce, was needed for the position regardless of how much he contributes in the boxscores.

"That's all I can do with a suit on. The most I'm capable of doing," Anderson said. "I just try to always be relentless, always be aggressive. Always excitement. I've guarded all the best players on the other teams. That's been my job since I played in the league. I actually did a pretty good job on each of them. I just try to tell them what I use to try to help myself out.

"It's hard to stop those superstars. You can always try to be there as much as possible and make your presence felt. I just try to show them what I do."

MORE WIZARDS: NBA All-Star Game won't feature Wall as starter for East

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Trading Jodie Meeks gives Washington Wizards much-needed salary cap relief

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Trading Jodie Meeks gives Washington Wizards much-needed salary cap relief

With a luxury tax bill of approximately $19 million on the way, the Washington Wizards gave themselves some salary relief on Monday by trading veteran guard Jodie Meeks to the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Wizards attached a future second round pick and cash to the deal and in exchange received a future second round pick of their own, NBC Sports Washington has confirmed. ESPN first reported the news.

Though Meeks, 31, was due to make $3.45 million this season, his departure saves the Wizards about $7 million because of projected tax penalties. That's a lot of savings in a deal that got rid of a player who had become expendable.

Meeks had fallen out of favor with the Wizards for a variety of reasons. He was due to serve a 19-game suspension to begin the season due to performance-enhancing drugs. The ban was announced the day before their first round playoff series against the Raptors was set to begin in April.

Meeks also underperformed last season in the first year of his contract with the Wizards and requested a trade in February. This summer, Meeks exercised his player option to remain with the team.

The Wizards were not likely to count on Meeks much at all this season because they traded for Austin Rivers in June to add depth at the shooting guard position. Meeks' role was made clear by the fact he did not appear in any of the Wizards' four preseason games against NBA opponents.

Meeks' tenure in Washington was a significant disappointment. The Wizards signed him last summer in hopes he could shore up the shooting guard spot on their bench. 

Though he stayed healthy for the first time in years, he never earned the trust of his coaching staff. The Wizards opted to rely more heavily on starter Bradley Beal, who logged the fourth-most minutes of any NBA player last season.

Now, they are moving on.

Meeks leaving the organization should have little effect on the Wizards, though it does leave them with a hole on their roster that needs to be filled. They currently have 13 players, one below the league minimum. The Wizards now have 14 days to add a 14th player.

They could sign a free agent, convert one of their players on two-way contracts (Devin Robinson and Jordan McRae) or make a trade. The Meeks deal gives them a $3.45 million trade exception.


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Dwight Howard practices for first time with Wizards, raising likelihood he plays in opener

Dwight Howard practices for first time with Wizards, raising likelihood he plays in opener

On Monday, for the first time since 2018-19 training camp began, the Wizards were complete.

Dwight Howard, who missed three weeks due to a strained piriformis muscle, participated in his first full practice with his new team. The 32-year-old signed a free agent deal with the Wizards in July, but had yet to take the court due to the injury, which began bothering him shortly before camp began on Sept. 25.

Howard had a setback on Oct. 6 and saw a specialist in New York. He received a pain injection on Tuesday and on Saturday began shooting again.

After clearing that hurdle, he was ready to be a full-go with his new teammates.

"It felt pretty good. I really gotta catch my wind and learn some of the offense. But other than that, it felt pretty good," Howard said of Day 1.

Howard practicing on Monday gives him two more days to work with before the Wizards open their season on Thursday at home against the Miami Heat. Both he and head coach Scott Brooks say it's too early to tell if he will be available.

"We'll see how it feels. I will do everything I can to make myself available for all 82 games," Howard said.

Howard not only has to play himself into game shape, he has to develop chemistry and timing with his new teammates. He missed all five of their preseason games.

If Howard can play, that would certainly be a positive turn of events for the Wizards. As of the end of last week, it seemed highly unlikely he would be ready when the regular season began.

But Howard turned a corner and now appears to be coming along quicker than once expected. 

"It was probably our best practice of training camp," Brooks said Monday after finally getting Howard into the mix.

"He has a natural feel. His IQ was pretty high, I was impressed with that. He picked things up."

Howard signed a two-year contract worth $11 million to join the Wizards in July.