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Wizards introduce Neal; address moving on from Pierce


Wizards introduce Neal; address moving on from Pierce

The truth is the Washington Wizards wanted Paul Pierce back. That didn't happen. Once the future Hall of Fame forward revealed he planned on joining the Los Angeles Clippers, the Wizards moved on.

The team added three veterans in the days after Pierce's decision. On Thursday afternoon, wing guard Gary Neal became the first of that trio officially confirmed by the team.

The Wizards have officially acquired Jared Dudley and are expected to announce the signing of swingman Alan Anderson in the coming days. 

Maybe some of these players join a team that reached the Eastern Conference semifinals for a second straight year under coach Randy Wittman regardless of Pierce's decision. Then again, considering the small forward's playoff heroics - and the minutes he commands-, maybe they don't.

"You just have to move on. You can't dwell on it," Wittman said Thursday following the team's final mini-camp practice before heading to the Las Vegas Summer League.

Pierce, 37, agreed to a three-year, $10 million contract with the Clippers on July 1.

"If you're around long enough you're never surprised," Wittman said of Pierce's choice. "I think you can probably ask (Dallas Mavericks owner) Mark Cuban that."

Wittman continued.

"Disappointed a little but just because who Paul is and what he is, but he's at the end of his career," he said of Pierce, a Los Angeles native. "I know he's got his mom there and family there and he grew up there. I know what that was all about.  I was able to play with hometown team at the end of my career. I know what the thought process is there."

The thought process this offseason involved adding more versatility and shooting options on the roster. Neal, Dudley and Anderson fill those needs.

"You have to be ready to move on with the next step and I think we've done a good job with that. Real excited with what we've been able to do, the additions. Hopefully we've got another piece we can maybe add as the summer moves on," Wittman said.

Neal, 30, made it clear why he was interested in Washington.

Terms were not disclosed, but the Baltimore native reportedly signed a 1-year, $2.1 million contract to join the Wizards after spending last season with a pair of non-playoff teams. The perimeter threat averaged 10.1 points with Charlotte and Minnesota. 

"I think the biggest thing that stood out to me was getting back to a team with playoff expectations," Neal said during a conference call on Thursday. "For the teams that I had on my list, Washington was atop that list. Also, just having an opportunity to play with a pass-first, very good point guard in John Wall."

The 6-foot-4 Neal will serve as a backup for starter Bradley Beal, though Wittman said the two could join Wall in three-guard sets.

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

The 2018 NBA offseason in just three weeks has become one of the wildest summers in the league's history between LeBron James signing with the Lakers, and all the characters that followed him, to DeMarcus Cousins surprising everyone to sign with the Golden State Warriors, to Kawhi Leonard getting traded to the Raptors.

As crazy as it all has been, two teams in the Eastern Conference stand out for so far doing very little, either by choice or circumstance. The Celtics and Sixers, the two teams most see as the favorites in the East, appear at least so far to be running it back with the same group of players.

This appears to be the Celtics' intention. After overhauling their roster last summer, they clearly see an opportunity to take a step forward as-is. Boston was one win away from the NBA Finals and will return Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving from injury. With James gone to the West, they can improve significanly just by keeping it all together.

Boston re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes. Their biggest addition this summer so far has been their first round pick, Robert Williams.

The Sixers, unlike the Celtics, didn't appear to plan on doing it this way. They wanted James and missed out. They reportedly had interest in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, but both went elsewhere. There are no stars left to sign in free agency and the trade market may be drying up.

Philly made some minor moves like trades for Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala. They may also have a deal for Kyle Korver in the works. They also had two first round picks in Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet.

There's a chance the Sixers got better than people think, as many of the moves they made seem smart. But they didn't reel in a big fish and will probably come back for the 2018-19 season with a team very similar to the one that made the second round of the playoffs this spring.

The fact the Celtics and Sixers may stand pat is probably a good thing for the rest of the East. Both teams may improve naturally if they are healthier and if their young players continue to ascend. But neither made a game-changing addition, one that would solidify either as an unstoppable superteam in the conference. 

The West is overloaded with title contenders and All-NBA players. The East, meanwhile, is much more open and it may end up staying that way mainly because Boston and Philly have been quiet so far this summer.

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Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld has stayed relatively busy this summer crafting his new-look lineup for the 2018-19 season. 

One of the team's key additions, Dwight Howard, is set to be introduced as a member of the Wizards on Monday. 

NBC Sports Washington will air the introductory press conference live at 1 p.m. while also streaming it online.  

Ernie Grunfeld and head coach Scott Brooks are both expected to be in attendance. 

The 32-year-old big man is coming off a 2017-18 season with the Charlotte Hornets in which he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. 

Since leaving the Orlando Magic after eight seasons in 2011, Howard has played for four different teams in the last six years. 

Howard is an eight-time all-star and a three-time defensive player of the year. 



John Wall's take on Dwight Howard 

Wizards make Dwight Howard free agent signing official 

By the numbers: Is new Wizards center Dwight Howard still in his NBA prime?