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With Wizards' playoff seed official, should their starters play or rest?

With Wizards' playoff seed official, should their starters play or rest?

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- To rest and prepare for the playoffs or go for their first 50-win season in four decades will be answered soon by Wizards coach Scott Brooks, who will hold shootaround Monday morning at The Palace.

The Wizards (48-32) are locked into the fourth spot in the East with nothing to play for but the benchmark which could go alongside their first division title in 38 years. It'll be the Detroit Pistons final game at the venue which they've played at since the 1988-89 season.

But the bigger issue for the Wizards isn't rest. It's playing well. They've played badly as soon as they ended their weeklong All-Star vacation, losing to the Philadelphia 76ers and Utah Jazz in abysmmal performances.

That supposedly was because of too much rest.

Then when the Wizards began a five-game road trip 4-0, they lost four of their next five. 

That allegedly was because of fatigue. 

"It's very rare in my opinion," Brooks said recently of the need to rest otherwise healthy players in an 82-game seson. "You're talking basketball. It's 32 minutes a night. This is not hard work. This is fun. Rest? To me, rest is a good night's sleep."

Brooks has a difficult decision because while it won't hurt to allow John Wall and Bradley Beal, among others, to get a breather then they're out of step with the other starters.

There will be a few days between the end of the regular season and the start of the first round of the playoffs where Brooks can squeeze in practices. He has been lenient with his team in the second half of the season and has cut practice time to compensate for the road trips and back-to-back sets at the end. 

"The rest thing, it's blown out of proportion in my opinion," Brooks said. "You're talking about a game that we love. We do it every day in the summer. These players play every day in the summer for two hours. Some of them go back at night and play another hour-and-a-half working on their game individually. So the rest, I get it certain cases. If you're banged up and your body needs to recuperate and get healthy, absolutely. We have to do that. To me if you're just resting as a badge of honor I don't kow if that's the right thing to do."

Otto Porter (back spasms) and Markieff Morris (ankle) have sat, but Wall and Beal haven't been healthier this late in a season in their careers. Marcin Gortat, at 32 the oldest on the roster, had been logging heavy minutes but has recently seen his court time decrease to about 23 minutes in his last 15 appearances.

It would be surprising to see Wall and Beal play much more than 30 minutes, but these are games where Brooks might feel more comfortable in experimenting with new combinations or tweaks in the play-calling for the postseason run. He can do both: Cut their minutes but fine-tune his key players while getting role players more work. 

What's the good of resting starters for the playoffs if they return to play with the same disconnect that they've shown at times on the offensive end and repeatedly on the defensive end?

Brooks has his team's pulse better than anyone. He sees things and knows things about them that no one else will. If he thinks his starters need to play, it's rather arrogant to suggest from the armchairs across America that he's wrong.

The Golden State Warriors didn't lose the NBA title last year because they went for 73 wins. They lost because they were undisciplined with a 3-1 series lead, Steph Curry threw a brainless behind-the-back pass at the end of Game 7 that went out of bounds and before that Draymond Green got suspended for stupid after kicking LeBron James. Only when they lost came the convenient narrative that they ran out of gas going for the single-season wins record.

Given how many things Brooks has gotten right in what's a 48-win season thus far, a height that no one projected before the season began, he has earned that benefit of the doubt. And if they want to go for 50, so be it.

If the Wizards lose a series, it's going to be because the other team was better. It won't be because they didn't take off tonight vs. Detroit and Wednesday in Miami.  

[RELATED: Whiteside accidentally earned Gortat career milestone]

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Wizards waive three, sign 2017 first-rounder Anzejs Pasecniks

Wizards waive three, sign 2017 first-rounder Anzejs Pasecniks

As the NBA regular season approaches, the Washington Wizards seek to finalize their roster.

The Wizards announced on Wednesday that they have waived Phil Booth, Justin Anderson and Jemerrio Jones. The team also signed 2017 first-rounder Anzejs Pasecniks and small forward Jalen Jones, the team announced.

Pasecniks and Jones were signed to Exhibit 10 contracts, meaning that if they are waived, they will have the opportunity to play for the Go-Go, the Wizards' G-League affiliate. Booth was on an Exhibit 10 deal, so he will report to the Go-Go after being waived.

Pasecniks, a 7-foot center from Latvia, was the 25th overall selection from the 2017 draft. The Orlando Magic drafted him and moved him to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for draft picks. The 76ers renounced his rights in June.

Pasecniks played on the Wizards summer league team, averaging 4.0 points and 5.3 rebounds. Jalen Jones has averaged 4.8 points and 2.3 rebounds while shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc in 32 games over two seasons with three teams.


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John Wall embracing role as assistant coach during injury rehab

John Wall embracing role as assistant coach during injury rehab

WASHINGTON -- John Wall has already made enough money during his basketball career to last a lifetime and his new supermax contract worth $170 million is just kicking in. When he is done playing in the NBA, he doesn't have to do anything at all if he doesn't want to.

But there is at least a small part of Wall that believes coaching could be in his future. He loves the game enough to not rule out the possibility.

This year will give him a taste of what being a coach is all about. While he rehabs his ruptured left Achilles, he will serve as an unofficial assistant to head coach Scott Brooks. Wall will be asked to break down film with players, advise on plays to run and help the team's young point guards in practice.

Wall isn't sure as of today whether he wants to coach when his playing days are over. But he may have an answer in just a few months.

"I think this year will tell me whether I can be a coach or not," Wall told NBC Sports Washington on the Wizards Talk podcast. 

"I think you have to have a lot of patience and you've gotta know how to interact with every player. Every player's attitudes and character and mood swings are totally different. I learned from when a coach tried to coach me when I was young and I wasn't the guy to coach."

Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard envisions Wall as an important part of the locker room, even when he isn't playing. Part of his role may include some tough conversations with players. As Sheppard says, Wall may be able to deliver some messages that resonate more from a peer than if they came from a coach. 

Wall knows he can help in that regard. He has long been a vocal presence for the Wizards and had to assume the role as a team leader at an early age. After coming in as the No. 1 overall pick, he was a franchise player from the time he was 19 years old.

Wall's personality may also lend itself to those duties. He is very honest, whether it be with teammates or the media. 

"I like to speak my mind," he said. "It's like my momma always told me, 'I'd rather you speak your mind and say what you want to say, but say it in a respectful manner and a respectful way.'"

Wall, in fact, has a detailed philosophy on being honest. He doesn't like to lie whether it's in a media setting, to teammates or in everyday life.

It's not quite a Jim Carrey in 'Liar, Liar' deal, but Wall sees no point in beating around the bush. If he has something to say to a teammate or the media, he will say it.

"I don't know how to not give you the truth," he said. "What I've learned is that when you lie, you've gotta remember that lie exactly the way you said it for the next 12 people you tell it to. So, why make it that tough?"

Wall is set to miss at least the first few months of the Wizards' 2019-20 season and he could be sidelined the entire year. He said he hopes to have a similar impact that Kristi Tolliver did with the Mystics this past season where she remained active as a veteran leader in the locker room despite not being able to help the team on the floor for weeks due to a knee injury.

Missing so much time due to injury is not the ideal situation for Wall, but he plans to make the most of it.

"It will make my game a lot smarter and better for when I come back," he said.