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Wizards rookie Kelly Oubre: 'I feel like I'm at square one again'


Wizards rookie Kelly Oubre: 'I feel like I'm at square one again'

Whether or not rookie Kelly Oubre is ready, Alan Anderson's second left ankle surgery that has him out indefinitely will thrust him into at least spot duty for the Wizards when the regular season opens Oct. 28. The 19-year-old admits the experience so far has been humbling though he's not deterred.

"I told one of the coaches earlier today I feel like I'm at square one again," Oubre said after Thursday's practice. "You start playing basketball, you get real good, you're one of the top in the nation, you get to the NBA and no matter where you're drafted at you're back to the bottom. You're a rookie. You don't really know much."

He'll play his third preseason game Friday, when the Wizards play at the Philadelphia 76ers. It'll be the teams' second meeting, with the Wizards winning the opener at Verizon Center. Oubre had a right ankle sprain that kept him out of that one and has had to catch up. 

"Whether it's drills, whether it's the game speed, there are different things. At this point and time we add things from a defensive philosophy as well as offensive," coach Randy Wittman said. "It's a lot coming at a kid like that so we'll see. ... He'll pick things up."

Jared Dudley returned to practice this week but he's not ready to play. Even when he returns, Wittman plans to use him more as the "stretch" power forward. That leaves Oubre as the only natural small forward behind starter Otto Porter. Martell Webster (right hip strain) still is unable to practice.

Oubre is 1-for-10 in two preseason games. He missed an easy transition dunk last weekend that typified his struggles. Even simple tasks are proving more challenging than he thought.

"He's tense. He says he is," Bradley Beal, who started as a 19-year-old for the Wizards in 2012, said. "He said, 'I'm out here feeling nervous.' He's putting a little to much pressure on himself.

"It's a growing process. He has to learn his first year he's not going to be an MVP, he's not going to be an All-Star. He has to realize that everything is a step to each level. Me and John (Wall) have been through the same thing. He's going to realize he's going to continue to learn. ... He's already ahead of the game. He's super athletic. He's smart. ... He's going to be good."

The risks and gambles that Oubre could take in high school and during his one year at Kansas can't happen in the NBA. He'll leave his teammates exposed. 

"It's different defenses because it's better competition. You make one mistake, if you're not in one spot at the right time it's a dunk or it's a game-winning shot," Oubre said. "(Defense) is kind of more important, it's kind of more amped up, and its' kind of better competition with guys that know where they're supposed to be onthe court so you have to know it as well.

"Throughout high school, throughout college that's how I got away with stuff because I'm long. I could just get an easy steal because a guy's not as good as me or something like that. Now I'm at the bottom of the barrel pretty much on my knowledge of the game. I now have to be smart and hone in on the fundamentals."

Oubre's cockiness nor youth has posed any problems with fitting in with such a veteran roster. When the Wizards held training camp at Towson University, Nene made him carry his Xbox case. The book on him from the staff at Kansas was that he accepts coaching and criticism well. He doesn't pout or take it personal. He works harder and gets better.

"I'm the only rookie on the team as of right now. I'm just trying to listen to the guys and feed off their energy because they help me out a lot,' said Oubre, referring to Beal, Wall and Otto Porter who have been the most recent players to go through first-season struggles. "A lot of the guys in there, they have families and kids so I just try to stay quiet. I hear a lot of slick remarks about me being young but they don't treat me like a rookie."

[RELATED: Who will be the Paul Pierce of Wizards' locker room?]

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Frustration reportedly boils over in recent incidents at Wizards practice

Frustration reportedly boils over in recent incidents at Wizards practice

Following a report by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on Monday morning about the possibility that every member of the Wizards' roster, including stars John Wall and Bradley Beal, could be available in a potential trade with the right suitor, more followed Monday -- this time about frustration boiling over in practice.

Prior to the publication of Monday afternoon's reports, Bradley Beal addressed the day's earlier reports when speaking with the media.

“I mean, I’m not going to be naïve to it, you know,” Beal said. “I have a phone just like everybody else does. There were rumors weeks ago. Then, I didn’t buy into them. Now, I’m still not going to buy into them because if that’s my main priority and focus then I’m going to be messed up on the floor.”

As reports continued to swirl Monday, forward Kelly Oubre appeared to allude to the situation on Twitter.

A spokesperson for the Wizards declined to comment on the reports.

The Wizards return to the court to face the Clippers on Tuesday at Capital One Arena.

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John Wall and Bradley Beal trade rumors show Wizards are exploring all options

John Wall and Bradley Beal trade rumors show Wizards are exploring all options

The mounting losses and the hapless nature of those defeats has the 5-11 Washington Wizards entering new territory, a place the franchise has not been in years. The team's steadfast plan of building around John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr. may be nearing its end. 

The time has come to at least consider something drastic.

That means, at least according to ESPN, essentially everyone on the Wizards’ roster is available in trades. That includes both Wall and Beal, two All-Stars who are just 28 and 25, respectively.

This would be a departure from their recent stance of withholding Beal, in particular, in talks for available stars like Jimmy Butler. But sensing the current roster may have run its course, the Wizards are exploring their options.

There is added urgency in the money they have committed. The Wizards have the sixth-highest payroll in the NBA and are due to pay about $12.4 million in luxury tax, according to Spotrac.com.

The Wizards’ thoughts of trading either Wall or Beal are very preliminary, according to a person familiar with the situation. This being out there simply lets other teams know they will listen.

Despite the whirlwind of reports, any major deal would likely take a long time to orchestrate. The Wizards would likely take months to lay the groundwork, even if matters get worse on the court. 

When you have two players as good as Wall or Beal, a good return needs to be guaranteed in a trade. Plus, both players have demonstrated over the years they can put on a good face through times of turmoil.

It’s also worth pointing out that this does not mean a rebuild is imminent. They aren’t close to being there yet. 

With two All-Stars in their 20s, the Wizards would first try to retool around them. And if they do trade one, that doesn’t mean they are also trading the other. Reactionary moves are not in the Wizards' nature.

As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski notes, the Wizards would prefer to first trade others on the roster, but so far have not received enticing offers for Porter, Kelly Oubre Jr., Markieff Morris and the like. The ideal option would be to trade one of them and give the new-look roster time to adjust before next steps are taken. They have forward depth and could replace any of those three in the short-term.

Porter, though, has a sizable contract. He’s owed about $81 million over the next three seasons. Though he’s only 25 and one of the game’s best three-point shooters, that is a lot of money to take on for a player who has yet to make an All-Star team.

Morris, meanwhile, is struggling this season. Oubre is having a solid year, but is due to hit free agency after this season and won’t be cheap to re-sign.

Beal is by far the Wizards’ most attractive trade asset, given he’s a young All-Star and due $81 million the next three seasons, a relatively modest price given his ability and today’s market.

Wall, on the other hand, has a supermax extension worth $169 million that doesn’t kick in until next year. He is set to become one of the highest-paid players in the NBA and will be owed $40 million-plus per season into his 30s.

That doesn’t mean Wall couldn’t be traded, if the Wizards choose that route. Several teams in particular stand out as logical fits. There are the Lakers, who will need to give LeBron James some better teammates at some point to compete for his fourth championship ring.

Wall has the same agent as James and would add a second All-Star to the Lakers’ rebuild. If they pulled in a third star, like Kawhi Leonard or Anthony Davis, they would be in business.

Two other teams that make sense, if the Wizards decide to trade Wall, would be the Phoenix Suns and the Orlando Magic. Both have stacked top draft picks in recent years, but are in desperate need of a point guard.

Beal could conceivably field offers from half the league. An All-Star at his age and at his price is something most teams could use. He has zero character concerns and his game is compatible with anyone. He hits threes, is effective off-the-ball and plays defense.

The biggest question through all of this is how the Wizards’ front office would factor in. If they want to make wholesale changes, owner Ted Leonsis has to first determine who will be making those decisions. If shuffling the front office is at all an option he’s considering, that has to be weighed in the timing of any major moves.

The Wizards are a ways away from pulling the trigger on a major trade, but the seeds are being planted in case their situation gets even worse.