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Wittman still looking for right combination


Wittman still looking for right combination

His team may have the worst record in the NBA, but at least Wizards coach Randy Wittman still has a sense of humor. It might be the only thing keeping him together while his team tries to stop the bleeding from an 0-9 start.

“This isn’t fun,” Wittman said before boarding a flight to Atlanta, where the Wizards will face the Hawks tonight [7 p.m., CSN].

“You don’t sleep very good. You don’t eat very good. The bowl of pasta doesn’t taste worth a crap right now.”

Nothing like having a basketball team spoiling a Thanksgiving appetite. But if Wittman is going to be an unfortunate part of Wizards history, he’s not going to take it sitting down.

“Hey, if I don't stay upbeat, how am I going to keep them upbeat?” he said. “I’ve got to be the leader of being upbeat, if that makes any sense to you.

“I can't go in there and be down. ‘Lost again.’ I've got to be: ‘Hey, we did lose again. We lost for these reasons. But look what we did.’

“That's what I’m trying to continue to do with these guys. The belief. I believe. I really do. This group should be winning games without John [Wall] and Nene. We've got to get them to believe that themselves. That's my job.”

To be fair, the Wizards haven’t made that job very easy. In fact, heading into tonight’s game at Philips Arena, Wittman still isn’t sure who is starting five will be 10 games into the season

Here’s why: In five of the Wizards’ first nine games the starters have been outscored by the bench.

With Wall and Nene sidelined by injuries Wittman began the season with a starting five of A.J. Price, Bradley Beal, Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza and Trevor Booker. But when the Wizards’ reserves outscored the starters in four of the first seven games, Wittman yanked Beal and Booker out of the starting five and replaced them with Jordan Crawford and Jan Vesely.

The new starting group responded with a solid 57-point effort Saturday night against the Jazz, but the bench managed a season-low 19 point in an 83-76 loss. Wittman put out the same lineup Monday night against the Pacers and this time the bench outscored the starters 58-31.

Wittman said his players want some consistency, but no more than he does.

“They want that. I want that,” he said. “But nobody has come out and said, ‘This is mine.’ They haven’t, and that’s what we’re trying to get to.”

At Tuesday’s practice Wittman said he tried four different combinations and still wasn’t sure which one to use tonight against the 5-4 Hawks. He said he will continue to review tapes of the last few games to see who worked best together.

What does he see when he reviews those tapes?

“The 13th guy all of a sudden looks good, the second guy looks awful,” Wittman said. “It’s just that fluctuation in play.”

Wittman said he’s not looking for one player to drop 40 points on the Hawks tonight – no one on the Wiz has scored more than 22 in a game – he’s just looking for a balanced performance from his starters and his bench.

“You guys are going think I’m crazy, but we don’t need a Herculean effort by both groups,” he said. “We just need solid efforts, solid play by both groups. We haven’t had that, and we’re still in games.”

And that, more than anything, is what has Wittman more encouraged than discouraged“I think it would one thing if we’re sitting here going into the fourth quarter and we’re down 30,” he said. “It’s a credit that they fight and they’re resilient and they don’t quit. That’s a trait that we want to keep.”


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Source: Wizards will have competition with teams like Lakers, Clippers for restricted free agent Bobby Portis

USA Today

Source: Wizards will have competition with teams like Lakers, Clippers for restricted free agent Bobby Portis

This summer is shaping up to be lucrative for NBA free agents and big man Bobby Portis is well-positioned to cash in. After spending the final three months of the 2018-19 season with the Wizards, Portis is already seeing a healthy market develop ahead of the June 30 start of the league's negotiating period, NBC Sports Washington has learned.

The Wizards are likely to first extend a qualifying offer on June 30 to make him a restricted free agent. According to Spotrac.com, it will be about $3.6 million and that will give the Wizards the right to match an offer sheet from another franchise.

But teams are already indicating they want Portis, who is just 24 and coming off a season in which he averaged a career-high 14.2 points and 8.1 rebounds in 50 games. That market includes 5-10 teams and could grow once free agency opens.

Portis is expected to draw interest from the Lakers, Clippers, Jazz, Bucks, Magic and Knicks among others, NBC Sports Washington has learned.

Despite restricted free agency, Portis has a few things working for him. For one, there are a lot of teams with cap room. Spending won't reach 2016 levels, when the new CBA spiked the salary cap, but there will a lot of money to go around.

Also, guys in Portis' tier will only be helped if the top free agent options continue to dwindle. Klay Thompson looks more likely than ever to stay in Golden State after tearing his ACL. Winning a title could increase the odds Kawhi Leonard re-signs in Toronto, according to reports. And Kevin Durant's torn Achilles has thrown a wrench into the plans of teams with the most money to spend.

There is also the possibility Kemba Walker stays in Charlotte. And Kyrie Irving signing with Brooklyn, if it happens, would leave others exploring backup plans.

Portis isn't directly competing with any of those players, but could benefit if the top options are off the market. His name will only move up the list if that is the case.

Portis also has a unique selling point going for him. He shot 39.3 percent from three this past season and held a 40.3 percent clip to close the year in his 28 games with the Wizards. Three-point shooting is more valuable than ever and he brings that to the table at 6-foot-10.

Portis, who averaged 3.8 three-point attempts per game this past season, was one of only six players 6-10 or taller to shoot at least 39 percent on 3.5 attempts or more (min. 50 G). 

The question for Portis will be whether he gets the money he wants. He turned down an extension with the Chicago Bulls last fall just hours before the deadline to sign one. According to the Chicago Tribune, the deal was worth about $50 million and he wants to be paid in the range of $16 million annually. His asking price was partly why the Bulls traded him to the Wizards in February.

Even if the Wizards clear money, and they are expected to free up some by declining Jabari Parker's $20 million team option by the June 29 deadline, Portis could price himself out of Washington. It might not even take $16 million per year for that to happen.

The Wizards are set to operate through free agency with interim team president Tommy Sheppard at the helm, as the Washington Post reported on Tuesday. Sheppard making the call increases Portis' odds of staying, but that doesn't mean the price will match for both sides.


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UNC's Coby White talks Wizards workout, North Carolina and John Wall's legendary mixtape

USA TODAY Sports Images

UNC's Coby White talks Wizards workout, North Carolina and John Wall's legendary mixtape

In Tuesday's Wizards Talk podcast Chris Miller sat down with point guard Coby White, a projected lottery pick from the University of Carolina. 

On Monday, the Wizards worked out White and college teammate Nassir Little in the franchise's highest-profile workout this year. Despite being projected higher than No. 9, White was enthusiastic about the opportunity. 

"These mock drafts are cool, but it's not the real deal," explained White. "If I was to slip and Washington were to select me, I'd be in a great place."

White's passion combined with his impressive skill set enabled him to become the all-time leading scorer in North Carolina high school history. Growing up he followed John Wall, as did every hooper in North Carolina, and he still remembers Wall shredding apart defenses on his legendary high school mixtape. 

"His mixtape was lit," professed White. "The style he played with was uncomparable to anyone else."

What many people don't know about White was that growing up, his dream school was Duke. Once he got to Chapel Hill, however, Roy Williams, his teammates and UNC's winning tradition won him over in a heartbeat. 

"They didn't care how much you had coming in, Coach Williams never promised me playing time," said White. "He just promised me 'I'll be the hardest coach you ever had and I'll try my best to make you the best you can be.'"

At Thursday draft, White's life will be changed forever once he hears his name called and shakes Adam Silver's hand. For Wizards fans, hopefully, that won't happen before the No. 9 pick