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Wizards have lots of options at No. 3


Wizards have lots of options at No. 3

By JP Finlay

Now that Wizards fans can give up hopes of drafting consensus No. 1 pick Anthony Davis, the team must consider its options with the third pick of the upcoming NBA Draft. Davis will surely go first overall to the New Orleans Hornets, but beyond that, nothing is certain.

For the Wizards three players have emerged as possible picks; Bradley Beal of Florida, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist of Kentucky and Thomas Robinson of Kansas. Before the debate between those three players finalizes, fans may also also want to add UConn's Andre Drummond and North Carolina's Harrison Barnes to the list of Wiz possibles.

A team as bad as the Wizards can use a great player at any position - beyond franchise point guard John Wall - though that won't help in this debate. None of the players considered for the Wiz play the point, and fans can make a case for help from a sweet shooting guard, a slashing forward, or an emerging big man.

Across the blogosphere, fans weighed in for each player. Some want D.C. native Thomas Robinson to return to his hometown and bring his rebounding presence and tenacious effort to the Wiz. Others talk about the immense upside of Bradley Beal, with some even comparing him to Dwyane Wade.

Kidd-Gilchrist could bring athleticism and a high-speed motor to a young Wizard team looking for pieces to keep up with the speedy Wall. Many draft experts predict MKG plays for the Wiz next year, as Bullets Forever showed.

Kidd-Gilchrist lacks a polished jump shot though, something that cannot be said for Harrison Barnes. Barnes, perhaps overhyped in his two years at UNC, still has the size and game pro scouts drool over. A killer performance from Barnes at the NBA Draft Camp would surprise few people.

The last name on the potential Wiz list, Andre Drummond, seems like a stretch. But let's not forget that NBA executives have a long history of falling in love with young big men that ooze potential, and Drummond fits the mold.

For anybody that wants to dismiss whispers of Drummond to the Wiz, just remember Greg Oden went before Kevin Durant, and before that Sam Bowie before Michael Jordan. Stranger things have happened.

Of course, much of what the Wiz do at No. 3 depends on what the Charlotte Bobcats do at No. 2. The rumor mill suggests Bobcats' owner Michael Jordan may reach for a fellow Tar Heel and take Barnes, but the Bobcats could also use a big man like Drummond.

Beyond that, Bobcat management may want their choice of Beal, Kidd-Gilchrist or Robinson. The Bobcats were another level of awful last season, winning just seven games, so they need help everywhere.

Mock drafts will likely connect the Wizards with a number of different players over the next month. For now, Sports Illustrated has the Wiz taking Robinson at three, with the Bobcats taking Kidd-Gilchrist at two. Expect those predictions to change, over and over, before draft night on June 28th.

And, last but not least, let's not forget that Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld has made many a draft day trade, giving up picks for established veterans. Wizards' brass say that this year's pick will not be moved, but we will know for sure in a month.

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John Wall knows the decision between loyalty and money is a tough one for Bryce Harper

John Wall knows the decision between loyalty and money is a tough one for Bryce Harper

In just a few months, Nationals star Bryce Harper could become one of the biggest free agents not just in baseball history, but sports history. He will decide whether to stay in Washington with the team that drafted him and oversaw his development as a young player, or to leave for another city.

Wizards guard John Wall has twice faced the prospect of free agency and twice has decided to sign contract extensions to stay in D.C. Though the salary structures of baseball and basketball are different, there are some parallels between the two. 

Wall has a unique perspective on the call Harper has to make and gave his opinion on the matter in a 1-on-1 interview on the latest episode of our Wizards Tipoff podcast.

"Well, it’s kind of tough. It depends on if you want to do it off of loyalty, or if you want to do it to make sure you make the most money you can make. That’s the toughest decision that you can have. I have the opportunity here where I have loyalty and I can also make the money, so that was a bonus and a plus for me in both situations," Wall said. 

Wall noted how as an NBA player he can have the best of both worlds. The league's collective bargaining agreement allows teams to pay players they drafted significantly more money.

That, however, has not stopped NBA stars from changing teams. Wall in many ways is an outlier as many superstars have left money on the table to depart their original teams. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Paul George have all done that, to name a few. Kawhi Leonard could be next.

Harper, though, may also be able to make more money elsewhere. The Dodgers, Cubs, Yankees, Red Sox or some other team could conceivably offer more money than the Nats and there are some cities like L.A. and New York that could open up more endorsement opportunities.

There's no question it pays to be the best player on the Yankees. Look at Derek Jeter and how his stardom was boosted by that distinction.

Loyalty is also going to come into play for Harper and the past few days have shown he is a sentimental person, as he has talked about all the people he has connected with over the years and how much the Washington community means to him.

Wall took all of those things into account when he decided to stay in D.C. and not look elsewhere via free agency or trades, which have become commonplace for All-Star players in the NBA.

"It was how much what the city means to me is the reason I wanted to stay and what I want to bring here is a championship, it’s what I promise and I hope I can do that," Wall said. "My dad’s from here. Just the way they welcomed me from the first day I came here. Sticking with me through the tough times, when we wasn’t winning early on and then we started to win. The city just embraced me and I embraced the city back. It feels like home and I wouldn’t want to be nowhere else."

Though the difference in money likely won't be as drastic, Harper will have to choose how much loyalty and the human connection he has with people in Washington matters in his free agency decision. Wall knows the feeling.

Hear Wall's full 1-on-1 interview on our latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

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Wizards have talked to the Spurs about Kawhi Leonard, report says


Wizards have talked to the Spurs about Kawhi Leonard, report says

After already making significant changes to their roster, the Wizards may not be done this offseason, as they have been in talks with the San Antonio Spurs about a potential trade for superstar Kawhi Leonard, according to a new report by ESPN

Read this from Adrian Wojnarowski:

Still, the bidding war among Boston, Philadelphia and the Lakers never materialized. The Los Angeles Clippers, Denver, Phoenix, Portland, Toronto and Washington are among teams who've talked with San Antonio, league sources said.

The Wizards certainly make sense as a Leonard suitor. They are in the East, meaning the Spurs could trade Leonard to them and not have to worry about facing him as often. Plus, they have a solid group of tradeable assets and ones that seem to fit the Spurs model.

Otto Porter is a versatile, young player under team control who plays an unselfish style and would likely embrace playing in a small market. He also has a salary ($26M in 2018-19) that isn't far off from Leonard's ($21M in 2018-19), so the money could be easily matched.

The Wizards also have Tomas Satoransky and Kelly Oubre, Jr., two young and up-and-coming players. Plus, they have draft picks, though ones that are unlikely to convey as lottery selections.

The Spurs have reportedly been more interested in getting players that can help now rather than draft picks to rebuild. That makes sense, as they still won 47 games last year despite Leonard only playing in nine of them due to injury.

The question in any Wizards and Spurs talks would be whether they would want one of Washington's All-Stars in John Wall and Bradley Beal. It would be tough to imagine the Wizards parting with either guy for Leonard, who carries some risk not only because of his quadriceps injury but also because he can opt out of his contract and leave after next season.

Just because the Wizards have talked to the Spurs doesn't mean they are serious contenders for Leonard, but it does show they are serious about improving their roster this summer. If they got Leonard and didn't part with Wall and Beal, that would be some team.




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