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Wizards notebook: More scrimmage talk!


Wizards notebook: More scrimmage talk!

It's that time once again when your intrepid blogger breaks down all the on-court action from Tuesday night's Wizards split squad scrimmage. Don't even pretend you're not interested...

Earlier I wrote about Jannero Pargo's scoring surge and his returning from an abdominal strain. There is still plenty of time for Shelvin Mack and A.J. Price to change my opinion, but I'm still giving Pargo best odds of being John Wall's primary backup whenever he returns to action. The Wizards need 3-point shooting and on-court experience. Pargo brings both qualities. As for what happens with Wall out, Pargo's style may still be best suited for coming off the bench while one of the other two opens with the starters. The battle remains open.

Bradley Beal flashed his textbook jumper on a 3-pointer for the scrimmage's first points, but ultimately wasn't a major scoring factor. I honed in on the rookie during the first session before eventually becoming exhausted just watching his constant off the ball movement. Any Ray Allen comparisons are overblown at this point of their respective careers, but Beal does possess Allen's ability to keep his feet active while forcing defenders to chase. No doubt everyone is looking forward to seeing how his activity combined with Wall's speed and passing ability changes the Wizards attack.

After Tuesday's morning session, Randy Wittman noted Chris Singleton and Jan Vesely in particular needed to avoid the "dumb fouls" they and others committed in Sunday's loss at Charlotte. During the second period, Singleton raced to defend a camped out A.J. Price preparing to launch from beyond the arc. His good intentions went unrewarded and worse, the overly aggressive defender was whistled for a foul. While Price went to the line for three free throws, Singleton went to the bench, yanked by Wittman, who was otherwise leaving the coaching duties to his assistants.

Singleton later returned and turned in one of the scrimmages true highlights, coming
up with a steal and racing home with a thunderous dunk. No foul was called on either end of that play.

Trevor Booker continued to sit out with left hamstring soreness, joining John Wall (leg strain) and Nene (plantar fasciitis) on the sideline. There does not appear to be any immediate concern about the energy forward's situation, but we the media have not pressed the matter just yet. That could change if Booker misses Thursday home preseason game against New York.

Wall and Nene performed their most rigorous physical activity of the week, at least as far as the media could see: walking out on the court during player introductions. The key word is walking as the other players jogged or moved with pace to the center court when introduced. Wall's gait had a Sunday morning stroll kind of vibe while the laid back Nene was simply in no rush. Both are out of the commission for now so it's not as if anyone wants them sprinting like Bryce Harper to stretch a single into a double. Seeing as Wall is out several more weeks and Wittman offered no new Nene update earlier when asked, thought I provide one, ish.

The Wizards closed up shop out in Fairfax. Starting on Wednesday they are back practicing at the Verizon Center.

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Washington Wizards hire assistant coach Michael Longabardi to Scott Brooks coaching staff

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Washington Wizards hire assistant coach Michael Longabardi to Scott Brooks coaching staff

The Wizards sought to add an assistant coach with a strong defensive track record this offseason and they did just that Saturday evening by hiring Michael Longabardi, according to NBC Sports Washington’s Chase Hughes. 

Longardi, 46, has spent the last three seasons as a defensive coach on the Cleveland Cavaliers' staff. He was initially hired by former Cavs' head coach Tyronn Lue in 2016 when the team claimed their first championship in franchise history. 

Before joining the Cavaliers, Longabardi held assistant coaching roles with the Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets, and most notably the Boston Celtics, in which he and Lue served under head coach Doc Rivers and Tom Thibodeau from 2007 to 2013.

Longabardi was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and attended Xaverian High School, a private Catholic school. He then went on to play basketball at Newberry College where he earned the nickname "Mr. Defense."

Just a day after reports broke that Tommy Sheppard would be promoted to a permanent general manager position, the organization is making yet another move in hopes of improving overall culture and team defense.


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Why the Wizards chose Tommy Sheppard as their new general manager

Why the Wizards chose Tommy Sheppard as their new general manager

The process took nearly four months, yet the Wizards ultimately didn't look far for their new general manager, as the team is removing the interim tag from Tommy Sheppard. The longtime NBA executive will now finally get a chance to run his own operation.

Sheppard may not have been the first choice among fans initially when it was announced he would fill in for Ernie Grunfeld, who was dismissed from his post as team president on April 2, but over the past few months he has acclimated himself well, showing in many ways he is prepared to lead a team as the top person in charge. He cleaned up the Wizards' salary cap situation as best he could, giving them some newfound financial flexibility beyond next season.

Sheppard did that while flooding the roster with young, cheap and high-upside players. And he did so by making some tough decisions, ones that helped demonstrate he can provide an organizational reset despite his role in the previous regime. 

Sheppard allowed Tomas Satoransky to walk in free agency despite being central in bringing him to the Wizards, first by scouting him overseas and then by convincing him to join the NBA ranks. He let Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker leave even though he was part of the braintrust that traded for them. And he traded Dwight Howard, again despite playing a role in bringing him to Washington.

Sheppard has operated with impartiality when the team needed him to. What he has done this offseason looks a lot like it probably would have if the Wizards had hired someone from the outside.

How Sheppard navigated the Wizards through the draft and free agency was central in why managing partner Ted Leonsis decided to elevate him to the long-term post. The last several weeks were treated as a "trial run," according to a person familiar with the process.

Sheppard worked closely with the team's ownership group, giving them written proposals for his plans that addressed goals, budget and contingencies. It was a collaborative effort to make the Wizards' roster younger, cheaper and harder working. They also set out to add more international players and accomplished that by drafting Rui Hachimura and by trading for Davis Bertans, Moe Wagner and Isaac Bonga.

Sheppard impressed Leonsis especially during the effort to re-sign Thomas Bryant. Bryant has become a favorite of Leonsis' for his consistent effort, character and enthusiasm. Sheppard and the Wizards were able to agree with Bryant on a new contract the night free agency began. It was quick and painless.

Sheppard himself will be signing a new contract, NBC Sports Washington was told. And there will be major changes to the organizational structure announced this coming week. In the basketball operations side, the team will heavily expand their investment in analytics, by "triple" according to a person familiar with their plans. They will also beef up their scouting department with an eye on Africa and Latin America.

Sheppard has done a nice job for the Wizards but the real work in many ways about to begin. Dismantling an NBA roster is not as difficult as building a contender. Now he has to find pieces to build around John Wall and Bradley Beal that can help the team win something of substance. 

Sheppard will have to do that within the constraints of Wall's supermax contract. And he will have to sort out Beal's future, which could take a turn later this month. 

On July 26, the Wizards can officially offer Beal a contract extension worth approximately $111 million over three years. But there is a long list of clues that suggest he will not take the offer.

How Sheppard, Beal and the Wizards handle the fallout in the event he turns them down would be a test in itself. Maybe they spin it simply as Beal betting on himself. If he makes All-NBA next season, he could make well over $200 million with a five-year supermax.

For Sheppard, the hard work is about to start. He is set to guide the Wizards into a new era, one he and the team hope can reach a higher peak than the last.