The roster shuffling and transactions appear to be complete for the Wizards, who are unlikely to make any other moves before they reconvene in a few months for training camp for the 2015-16 season. All 15 roster spots have been settled with guaranteed deals though they can carry as many as 20 in the offseason.
The only big-ticket item left is Bradley Beal's extension, which can be signed up until the start of the season. If not, the matter has to be tabled until next summer when he becomes a restricted free agent. According to persons with knowledge of the situation on both sides late Tuesday night, they're still talking but not close to reaching terms just yet.
The prevailing sentiment is that they'll get there. Beal has had three stress "reactions" to his lower right leg, in the same non-weight bearing bone, in each of his three seasons in Washington. That reality will require some assurances for the Wizards, who'll want some sort of out-clause in a deal of any length. If Beal takes short money with the salary cap expected to reset at $108 million two years from now ($38 million above this season), he'll want an out-clause, too.
- First or second week of August: The NBA is expected to release the regular-season schedule. This typically is a Wednesday or Thursday.
- Sept. 8: This is the day after Labor Day. Players will start returning to D.C. to work out with each other. Others have gone in and out of town all summer for individual work with coaches.
- Sept. 28: Media Day will be held on the practice court at Verizon Center.
- Sept. 29: Training camp begins. Where still has to be determined. Last year it was at Verizon because the Wizards' usual spot at the Patriot Center on the campus of George Mason in Fairfax, Va., was no longer a viable option. The nearby accommodations (there was a hotel walking distance from the venue) closed and there hasn't been a replacement.
- First/second week of October: After training camp gets underway -- some teams with international games will have started sooner -- preseason games begin leading up to the regular-season tip which typically is at the end of the month/start of the following month.
MORE WIZARDS: New Wizards acquisition to miss 3-4 months
The Washington Wizards still have John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter. The Cleveland Cavaliers no longer employ LeBron James. That makes Wednesday’s first meeting of the season between the Eastern Conference foes curious. The radical change for the visitors also requires a preview. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.
Here are three things to watch...
Sustaining the surge
Monday’s 117-109 victory over the Orlando Magic extended the Wizards’ winning streak to a season-high two. Don't knock the modest uptick after a 2-9 start. John Wall’s stat line took a big leap over the last three games: 24.0 points, 10.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 45.5 percent on 3-pointers. Beyond the numbers, the point guard appears to have knocked off the remaining rust physically. We’re used to his aggressive end-to-end pushes, but now Wall is firing up the court immediately after makes or misses, helping Washington quickly enter its offensive sets. Another strong outing from the five-time All-Star could propel the Wizards to their first three-game winning streak since Feb. 10-22.
Starters Wall, Bradley Beal, Dwight Howard and Markieff Morris had solid games against the Magic, but the Wizards’ second unit played above previous season norms. All five reserves finished with a plus-minus of plus-8 or better. Jeff Green continued his sizzling shooting, sinking 4 of 5 from beyond the arc en route to 18 points. The 6-foot-9 forward is 9 of 13 from beyond the arc overall during the last four games, and 21 of 28 overall. Backcourt partners Austin Rivers and Tomas Satoransky, slow to develop chemistry this season, showed increased comfort during the winning streak. Washington needs more from the pair to help keep minutes for Wall and Beal at reasonable levels.
Cleveland doesn’t rock
From four consecutive NBA Finals appearances to the NBA’s worst record (2-11, tied with Phoenix). Yeah, the Cavaliers miss LeBron James just a little. They also are down Kevin Love (toe surgery), leaving Jordan Clarkson (15.2) and Rodney Hood (12.9) as Cleveland’s top scorers. That’s not ideal. The Cavaliers are 27th in scoring (103.3) while giving up 113.1 points per game, which is better than Washington’s league-worst 118.5. Rookie point guard Collin Sexton, the No. 8 overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft, is filling in for the injured George Hill. Sexton is averaging 17.0 points over the last three games.
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A sluggish start and a handful of woefully inefficient defensive efforts had the Wizards looking for answers early into the 2018-19 NBA season.
But making a major trade was not something the Washington front office was willing to do. As the Jimmy Butler saga reached its climax in Minneapolis, the Timberwolves reportedly attempted to strike of a conversation with the Wizards regarding Bradley Beal.
The details, reported by Marc Stein in his latest New York Times newsletter (via ProBasketballTalk), are minimal, but it sounds like the Wizards quickly brushed the discussion aside as Beal has remained off-limits in their eyes.
Word is the Wolves did try to engage Washington — another team falling well short of expectations — in trade talks for the sharpshooting guard Bradley Beal. But the Wizards have kept Beal off limits amid their 4-9 start. They would naturally prefer to trade the struggling Otto Porter, or perhaps even John Wall, but both possess hard-to-move contracts.
Otto Porter, like many of his teammates, started the season in the wrong direction. But trading Porter is a tricky situation, one the Wizards organization probably doesn't want to pursue given the contract he was signed to just over a year ago. Trying to trade John Wall would be even more difficult.
Ultimately, the Timberwolves dealt Butler to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Wizards rattled off weekend wins over ht eHeat and Magic, and while not equal to making a blockbuster trade, it does show that the Wizards can make an internal fix to what ails them.
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