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Wizards' attention will turn to 5 key areas to rebuild after 49-33 season

Wizards' attention will turn to 5 key areas to rebuild after 49-33 season

It's that time of year again for the Wizards, who lost in the second round of the NBA playoffs for the third time in four seasons. But they're in a better position now to retool than they were in previous years, when they were older and their best players John Wall and Bradley Beal dealing with repeated soreness and offseason restrictions because of health. 

That's not the case after going 49-33 and pushing the Boston Celtics to Game 7 under first-year coach Scott Brooks.

-- Free agency. They have to extend qualifying offers to Otto Porter and Bojan Bogdanovic before July 1 to keep them restricted free agents, which gives the Wizards first right of refusal to retain them. If they don't do this, they become unrestricted and are free to leave. Locking them in with the qualifier is a cheaper salary cap hit in the short term while they can renegotiate with both or allow the players to field an offer sheet from another team and give the Wizards a chance to match to retain them. Trey Burke is the other restricted free agent, but it's doubtful they extend him a qualifying offer and allow him to find a new home in free agency.

--Top priority. A capable backup point guard for Wall. Burke wasn't the answer and Tomas Satoransky wasn't ready to fill that void. They made the late addition of Brandon Jennings who is unrestricted. Earlier in the season they traded Marcus Thornton. In the playoffs especially, a backup for Wall is vital because it's easier to exploit weak links. Jennings wasn't a reliable shooter, had difficulty getting the offense started though they didn't run a lot of sets and was a major liability on defense as he allowed dribble penetration. Although Ramon Sessions was a shoot-first backup a year ago and had difficulty defending pick-and-rolls, he was light years ahead of what the Wizards had behind Wall this season.  A two-way player would be ideal. A combo guard with the size and three-point shooting ability to slot behind Beal, too, would be even better. 

--Non-guaranteed players. Daniel Ochefu and Sheldon McClellan didn't play much and their salaries for next season are non-guaranteed which means they can be cut without penalty at any time. Brooks is putting a lot into the development but it depends on not just where they're at individually but how the roster will be remade before figuring out if they fit. Chris McCullough, who was a throw-in from Brooklyn in the trade that brought in Bogdanovic, has an option that could be picked up by October. McClellan appears to be the most likely of the bunch to stick if there was room for just one. He played the most.

--Center pieces. Marcin Gortat isn't happy with his role. Ian Mahinmi makes more money per year and has more years left on his deal. The problem, of course, is Mahinmi's health. If Gortat isn't the answer or wants out -- and he left open the possibility he could -- then what's the next move? The Wizards still would need another big but one that has range would be ideal.

--Predraft workouts. The Wizards traded their late first-round pick in the deal that brought Bogdanovic but still have the No. 52 pick in the second round on June 22. They'll bring in a series of players to look at but more often than not they have an idea of what type of player they want already. These workouts are a matter of double checking the homework for accuracy. It's very rare that a player is brought in and goes from off the radar to being drafted because of that workout.

MORE WIZARDS: Otto Porter's teammates want him back with Wizards

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Mike Scott

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Mike Scott

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

Player: Mike Scott

Position: Power forward

Age: 29

2017-18 salary: $1.7 million

2017-18 stats: 76 G, 18.5 mpg, 8.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.1 bpg, 52.7 FG%, 40.5 3P%, 65.8 FT%, 59.0 eFG%, 109 ORtg, 111 DRtg

Best game: 12/9 at Clippers - 22 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 9-for-11 FG, 3-for-4 3PT, 28 minutes

Season review: The 2017-18 Wizards season was full of unpredictability and the most positive surprise had to be the comeback of Mike Scott.

The Wizards signed Scott to a veteran minimum contract last offseason after a workout at Capital One Arena. This came just months after he had felony drug charges dropped in the state of Georgia, he lost 25 pounds and rehabbed a leg injury. That spring he had wondered, and justifiably, if his NBA career was over.

Scott overcame all of those odds to not only return to the NBA, but re-establish himself as a productive player off the bench. No one was more consistent start-to-finish in the Wizards' second unit than Scott was.

Scott earned a significant role in head coach Scott Brooks' rotation out of the preseason and stayed there. He reached double-figures in 31 of his 76 games, second only to Kelly Oubre, Jr. on the Wizards. 

Scott's primary value was on offense. He scored inside and out and got his points with remarkable efficiency. He led the Wizards and was tied for 11th in the NBA in effective field-goal percentage. He was second on Washington in field goal percentage and third in three-point percentage. 

Scott closed the season strong, reaching double-figures in scoring in seven of the last nine regular season games. He carried that over into the playoffs with 46 points through their first three games against the Raptors. 

Now comes the question of how much money Scott earned himself with his comeback year and whether the Wizards can afford keeping him. Since they are in the luxury tax, they will have little money to spend this summer. 

The way to keep Scott would be to use the remainder of their taxpayer mid-level exception, but that figures to be only about $1.9 million, not much more than what Scott made in 2017-18. Given how well he played this season, it would not be surprising if he earns much more than that.

Potential to improve: Free throw shooting, forcing turnovers, ability to guard bigs

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

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Markieff Morris is helping his brother gameplan to defend LeBron James

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USA Today Sports Images

Markieff Morris is helping his brother gameplan to defend LeBron James

Wizards forward Markieff Morris is all-in on his brother Marcus and the Boston Celtics beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. Not only is he showing up to games in his twin brother's jersey, he is helping Marcus break down film on LeBron James.

James was held to just 15 points on 31.3 percent shooting with seven turnovers in Game 1 and Marcus got some credit for stopping him. In the two games since, James went off for 42 and 27 points, each time posting 12 assists to complement. Though Cleveland lost Game 2 as well, they punched back with a 30-point win in Game 3.

The Morrises are combining forces to make sure that doesn't happen again, according to Jay King of The Athletic. They stayed up until 2 a.m. on Sunday morning reviewing plays. 

Game 4 between the Cavs and Celtics is on Monday night. If Boston wins, they will take a 3-1 lead in the series, which will be very difficult for the Cavs to overcome. Yes, they mounted the most famous 3-1 comeback in NBA history, but this isn't the same Cavs team that accomplished the feat in 2016.

There is of course some irony in Markieff helping the Celtics, given he was so integral in the rivalry between the Wizards and Boston. But, as he has shown many times over the years, it's family over everything.

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