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Why the Wizards will not trade Bradley Beal, even for Pacers star Paul George

Why the Wizards will not trade Bradley Beal, even for Pacers star Paul George

Now that Paul George's name is in the public square, all the scenarios on how the Wizards can push their way into acquiring him have reached absurd proportions.

Should they have tapped the Indiana Pacers to gauge interest? 

Of course. But they don't have cap space or, on the surface, the pieces that would make sense for Indiana or for Washington itself.

--Bradley Beal is a non-starter. The whole purpose of adding a player such as George is so the Wizards can have their own Big 3. They can't have that if Beal is traded. The NBA is a guard-oriented league. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley. Front offices aren't rushing to fix something that's not broken. If elite backcourts are so easy to put together, name three others. That's why you don't break them up unless absolutely necessary. If they leave as unrestricted free agents, that's something a team can't control. 

--George has made it clear he'd be a one-year rental at $19.5 million for the 2017-18 season. After that, he's gone and prefers to play at home with the L.A. Lakers. Why a player of his caliber would go to a rebuilding team with many question marks and in the same conference with Golden State doesn't make much sense. But this isn't a secret. You will not have George's heart or loyalty. 

[RELATED: Wizards Tipoff podcast: Wiz are thinking big with Paul George]

--The Wizards want to extend Wall this offseason as they're able to pay about $170 million under the new collective bargaining agreement over four years. In addition to the two years he has left on his existing deal, Wall would be committed to D.C. for six years total. Knowing he'd likely be the only superstar in town after Beal/George depart, think he'd be more or less likely to commit? The Wizards will quickly go from two star players to zero. 

--The Pacers are in a pinch in part because everyone in the league knows they can't play hardball with George. They have to move him -- either now or by the trade deadline in February -- so they have a chance of getting something in return. If not, they lose him for nothing next summer when he can exercise his player option to bolt as an unrestricted free agent. They're not going to get equity for the four-time All-Star, a rare two-way player in today's NBA who can change the game on either end. Even the Pacers realize that. Any team that engages in a bidding war would be foolish with another to up the stakes for a player who won't commit. Yes, you can win the summer by saying, "Hey, we got Paul George." What about next year when you lose him to Los Angeles? You don't deal in what-ifs if you're a front office and hope the player likes you enough to stick around. That's a losing strategy. You need certainty. 

--The Cavaliers would make a lot of sense for a key reason: George solidifies them as the best team in the East next to Kyrie Irving and LeBron James and make them a bigger threat to this year's champion Golden State Warriors. Even if George were to leave after one season, they could win in two ways. Aside from the championship potential, they can unload Kevin Love's contact of $22.6 million next season, $24.1 million in 2018-19 and $25.6 million in 2019-20 in the process. Love has likely reached his ceiling. The returns will diminish and he'll never be the defensive presence they need behind a no-show defender like Irving and an aging superstar in James who is a major defensive liability himself outside of the occasional chasedown block. Subtracting Love's contract from the books alone would make it a win-win. The Wizards aren't in that position with Beal.

[RELATED: CSN to broadcast Wizards' summer league games]

--Beal has a $128 million contract, but he's coming off his best season as a pro and getting better. Unlike Love, his ceiling is higher and he is still improving. His returns aren't diminishing. His contract is not an albatross. Not to mention, he's the Wizards' best two-way player. While it's popular to say it's Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre or John Wall, the proof isn't in any of the analytic data. It's not based on steals or blocks. It's in the eye test. Beal was the most consistent defender on the ball all season, and if you want further evidence see who defended Thomas during key situations (and with success) vs. Boston Celtics. It was Beal and he did the best job of anyone and he quietly did it all season. It's easy to overlook because the Wizards weren't a good defensive team. He's far too valuable.

-- If -- and this is a huge if -- the Wizards don't believe Porter is worthy of a $90 million-$100 million contract and moving him would satisfy the Pacers' demands, then that would be the direction to explore. But what's the incentive for Porter to agree to such a deal? Under the 2017 CBA sign-and-trade rule, he'd lose millions in doing so. He'd get one less year on his contract and his annual raises will be 5% instead of 8%. Unless Porter just loves the idea of going to Indiana, it's almost impossible to see him, or his agent, agreeing to such a deal. 

Will the Pacers take some sort of package that involves role players and draft picks for George? That's what it would have to be for the Wizards, it would appear, but even then how much of your future are you willing to mortgage for a rental?

You'll lose all of those players and their potential. And make no mistake, you'll soon lose George, too, and all that would be left is buyer's remorse.

[RELATED: Cavs' recent moves could put LeBron James' future in doubt]

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Yuta Watanabe is chasing NBA dream, hoping to lead the way for Japanese basketball players

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USA TODAY Sports

Yuta Watanabe is chasing NBA dream, hoping to lead the way for Japanese basketball players

Before meeting with local basketball media following his pre-draft workout with the Washington Wizards on Thursday at Capital One Arena, George Washington forward Yuta Watanabe first addressed a swath of reporters from his home country of Japan. Then, while he talked to the American contingent, cameras from Japanese news outlets trailed him from a distance, documenting even the media part of his experience.

Watanabe, who played four years for the Colonials in Foggy Bottom, is now chasing an NBA dream with an entire country's hope on his shoulders. He is aiming to become just the second Japanese-born player to reach basketball's pinnacle.

It's a responsibility he carries with pride.

"I know there was only one Japanese player who played in the NBA like a long time ago, so he was the only one," Watanabe said. "If I can make it, I know that’s a really big thing in Japan. That would make young guys come to the U.S. and play basketball in the U.S. I want to be one of the pioneers for younger guys."

The only player to make the NBA from Japan in the history of the league was Yuta Tabuse, who appeared in four games for the Phoenix Suns in the 2004-05 season. Four games, that's it. If Watanabe can carve out an extended career in the NBA, it would be a first for Japan, which like many countries outside of the United States has begun to produce more basketball talent in recent decades as the game has expanded globally.

Watanabe grew up in Miki, Kagawa, a town in the southwest of Japan. He had American basketball idols growing up, including Kobe Bryant who was the NBA's biggest star when Watanabe was a kid.

Now, as Watanabe has set his sights on the NBA, he has focused on others to model his game after. He said he watches film of Jazz forward Joe Ingles because he sees similarities in their game.

"I see myself trying to be like him. He’s a lefty, a great shooter and a great defender. I’ve been watching his tape a lot," Watanabe said.

Watanabe has also been consulting with Hawks forward Joe Cavanaugh, his former teammate at George Washington. Cavanaugh went undrafted last summer, but caught on in Atlanta and appeared in 39 games as a rookie.

Watanabe's best bet may be a similar path. He is currently not projected to be drafted, but there are many avenues to the NBA, as Cavanaugh has shown. He was signed for 2017 training camp by the Hawks, then cut. Then, he inked a two-way contract which was later converted to a regular contract.

Along the way, Cavanaugh spent much of his time with the Erie Bayhawks of the G-League. Watanabe may have to go that route to make the NBA. For now, he's trying to prove what he's capable of and that has not been easy. The Wizards were his second workout and Watanabe isn't happy with his performance thus far.

He is dealing with an ankle injury that has affected his conditioning, he said, and his shots haven't been falling.

"To be honest, I didn’t shoot well. I didn’t really do well in the 1-on-1s or 3-on-3. I know I have to do better on that if I want to make an NBA team," he said.

Watanabe, who stands at 6-foot-9, said he also needs to get stronger. If defense is going to be his calling card, he can't be pushed around by bigger players in the NBA.

"I know I can defend one through four. Today, I didn’t shoot well but I know I can shoot and I can handle the ball, I can pass. I think versatility is one of my strengths," he said.

The Wizards could use depth at the small forward position and will be in the market for a host of undrafted guys to fill out their summer league team and new G-League team. Perhaps Watanabe will land in one of those spots.

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Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

The pre-draft workout process can be an exhausting journey for players, with so many flights, hotel rooms and NBA arenas that they can all blend in together. Michigan big man Moritz Wagner, though, may have felt a sense of comfort in Washington for his pre-draft workout for the Wizards on Wednesday.

It was just over a year ago that his Michigan Wolverines cut down the nets at Capital One Arena as champions of the Big Ten conference.

"It was good memories, man. Never gets old," he said while glancing around the stadium.

Wagner, 21, will be seeing a lot more of Capital One Arena once he joins the NBA ranks and it is conceivable he ends up in Washington. They hold the 15th pick in the first round and the 44th pick in the second round and Wagner could be within their reach.

Wagner had an impressive workout in Washington and could provide what the Wizards need. He is a big, mobile and can spread the floor. Wagner was terrific at stepping out to hit threes off pick-and-rolls at Michigan and that ability would work well with Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall.

Wagner measured in at just under 7-feet at this month's NBA Combine, fifth-tallest among those who attended. He averaged 14.6 points as a junior this past season and made 39.4 percent of his threes on 4.1 attempts per game.

With three years of college experience and an NBA-ready jumper, Wagner believes he can step right in and help the Wizards.

"I think what we did at Michigan, sharing the ball and playing as a team, very organized basketball, that can help big-time," he said. "It's basically pro basketball I was playing on a different level."

As Wagner will tell you, he is very confident in his abilities. He is comfortable in his own skin and that includes openly discussing his faults. He feels good about his ability to score at the next level. Defense is where he needs to prove himself.

Despite his size, Wagner wasn't much of a rim protector in college. He averaged just a half-block a game as a junior. The Wizards need rim protection badly and he likely would not provide that.

Wagner, though, believes he can bring more to the table defensively than the numbers would suggest.

"I think I've been an offensive guy all of my life, but the more that you mature as a player, you understand that both sides are important. Without defense, you aren't going to play at any level," he said.

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen, especially with the way the league is going. Switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Wagner is from Germany and looks up to Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki, who is entering his 21st season and will be in the Hall of Fame someday. Nowitzki's game has always been built around shooting and, though he developed into a decent shot-blocker in his prime, was never an elite rim protector.

Wagner hopes to follow in his footsteps playing a similar style.

"He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball," Wagner said. "It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

Hear more from Wagner in his one-on-one interview with Chris Miller in our latest Wizards Tipoff podcast. His interview can also be found in the video above:

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