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Wittman explains why certain players can't crack Wizards' rotation

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Wittman explains why certain players can't crack Wizards' rotation

TOWSON, Md. -- Though there was no discussion about Kevin Seraphin's comments, after he said that he didn't feel that he had a fair shot to get playing time with the Wizards under coach Randy Wittman, there was a related topic covered Wednesday after a second day of training camp at Towson University.

Wittman was asked about remarks made by DeJuan Blair, who was distraught after seeing less playing time than Seraphin last season as a backup center to starter Marcin Gortat. Blair was told to be more professional if he hoped to get on the court in his second season in Washington.

"You’ve got to maintain and be ready at all times, physically, mentally, attitude, all that. You’re not always going to be happy. Even the people you call stars, they aren’t always going to be happy but you got to be professional," Wittman explained. "I've probably got a couple guys pissed at me today. … If you’re not happy with playing time you got to force playing time on me. Those kind of things."

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Wittman pointed to what happened last season, when Bradley Beal didn't start the first nine games after he broke his left wrist in preseason. The Wizards went 7-2 with Garrett Temple in the starting lineup at starting shooting guard. Then later in the season, it was Kris Humphries who missed a lot of time with a hamstring strain and had Drew Gooden take over.

"Bradley Beal is hurt at the start of the year last year, who was ready? Temple. Temple played as good as he’s probably played in his career, he was ready," Wittman said. "Hump went down with a hamstring injury. He was playing good and Drew was ready. Drew stepped in and played. Drew wasn’t playing very much when Hump was playing like that. That’s being professional. I’m sure Temp wasn’t happy wasn’t getting the minutes he wanted to get but he was ready."

Seraphin had a rollercoaster five-year tenure with the Wizards before signing with the New York Knicks as an unrestricted free agent this past summer. He told CSNmidatlantic.com after they were eliminated in six games of the East semifinals last season that he wouldn't come back. 

He often drew Wittman's ire for not being in top physical condition (he dropped 20 pounds before 2014 training camp), blowing defensive rotations, committing turnovers because he was overdribbling and goofing off on social media and while sitting on the bench during games. Seraphin even skipped joining the French national team to work out with Wittman two summers ago where he began to show significant improvement with his basketball IQ, but when Gortat received a five-year contract for $60 million that meant he could be nothing more than a backup in D.C.

Even though there'll be a healthy competition for playing time for Seraphin in New York, with Robin Lopez also a major free-agent signing for them, he has a chance to get more time. And the change of scenery is probably worth him taking short money ($2.8 million) in order to prove himself so that when he becomes a free agent in 2016 maybe he can cash in when the salary cap goes up from $90 million to about $108 million.

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Markieff Morris

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Markieff Morris

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Markieff Morris' season...

Player: Markieff Morris

Position: Power forward

Age: 28

2017-18 salary: $8 million

2017-18 stats: 73 G, 27.0 mpg, 11.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.9 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.5 bpg, 48.0 FG%, 36.7 3P%, 82.0 FT%, 53.6 eFG%, 116 ORtg, 112 DRtg

Best game: 12/1 vs. Pistons - 23 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, zero turnovers, 10-for-16 FG, 2-for-3 3PT

Season review: It took quite a while for Markieff Morris to get healthy in the 2017-18 season. He was sidelined to begin last offseason with the ankle injury he suffered against the Celtics in the playoffs, then in September had surgery on both his abdomen and groin. The sports hernia surgery was known, while the groin procedure was revealed once the season was over.

Morris only missed nine games in the entire season, but took time to find his rhythm early. He averaged just 9.0 points and 4.4 rebounds in 14 games in the month of November. He picked it up after that, though he never quite reached the level we saw from him in 2016-17 in terms of volume production.

Morris played less minutes, took less shots, scored fewer points and grabbed less rebounds than the season before. On the other hand, he was more efficient than ever. Morris shot 48 percent from the field, his best since 2013-14, and posted career-highs in three-point percentage (36.7) and effective field-goal percentage (53.6). 

The Wizards could use more scoring from Morris moving forward, especially at times when one of their primary options is injured, as was the case in 2017-18 when John Wall missed 41 games. An active and engaged Morris changes everything for the Wizards. 

When Morris scored 15 points or more this season, the Wizards went 15-8. The season before, they went 22-9 when he got to the 15-point mark. 

It's a bit difficult to project Morris' role for the 2018-19 season at this point, given the fact he's entering a contract year and the most logical area for the Wizards to make significant changes (if they choose to) is in their frontcourt. Also, as Morris discussed in his exit interview, he knows more time at center in small-ball sets could be in his future.

Regardless of what happens with the team, it's a huge summer for Morris individually. If he sets himself up well for a big year in 2018-19, he could earn a nice payday in what might be his last long-term contract given his age.

Potential to improve: Rebounding, screens, scoring

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

Marcin Gortat, C

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Marcin Gortat

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Marcin Gortat

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Marcin Gortat's season...

Player: Marcin Gortat

Position: Center

Age: 34

2017-18 salary: $12.8 million

2017-18 stats: 82 G, 25.3 mpg, 8.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.8 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.7 bpg, 51.8 FG%, 67.5 FT%, 51.8 eFG%, 112 ORtg, 107 DRtg

Best game: 10/18 vs. Sixers - 16 points, 17 rebounds, 3 blocks, assist, 7-for-12 FG

Season review: Marcin Gortat is self-aware enough to know that what happened to him in 2017-18 was inevitable in many ways. He even publicly called it before the season.

He was one year older, with Ian Mahinmi healthy and in the rotation, and with the NBA continuing to move towards small-ball and big men who can play on the perimeter. As a result, Gortat saw his role in the Wizards rotation pared down noticeably.

Though he still started all 82 games, his minutes went down from 31.2 per game the year before the 25.3. Kelly Oubre, Jr., who played the majority of the season coming off the bench, logged more minutes than Gortat, though he was a starter.

Gortat's minutes were his fewest since the 2009-10 season, when he was a 25-year-old bench player for the Orlando Magic. His numbers this season followed suit. Gortat's points and rebounds per game were both the lowest since that 2009-10 campaign.

Gortat averaged a career-best 10.4 rebounds per game in 2016-17, but the minutes had a direct effect on his volume of boards. He pulled in 2.4 less per game this season despite his rebound percentage (17.0) being close to his career average (17.5). That career average, by the way, is 30th-best all-time an eighth among active players.

Not getting the same opportunities he had in years past, plus public misunderstandings with teammates, combined to make for a frustrating year for Gortat. He said on the Wizards Tipoff podcast midseason it was the worst year of his career. Gortat, though, did continue to make an impact setting screens for the Wizards and he rallied to finish relatively strong.

He had several solid outings in the playoffs, including his 16 points in Game 3 and his 12 rebounds in Game 5. The question is whether that is the last time we will see Gortat in a Wizards uniform.

Washington has played with the idea of trading Gortat for a while now. He popped up in rumors around the trade deadline in February, but remained on the roster. Now he has an expiring contract working in his favor, making it a bit more likely he gets dealt.

Gortat knows his future in Washington is uncertain, though he said following the season he would like to stay. It would not be surprising to him or anyone if he were traded this summer. If not, he's got one year left with the Wizards and could very well have his role decreased even more.

Potential to improve: Rim protection, midrange shooting, free throw percentage

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!