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Wizards squeeze by Pistons 97-95: Five takeaways


Wizards squeeze by Pistons 97-95: Five takeaways

Otto Porter breathe a sigh of relief after when Marcus Morris' final heave fell short of the rim. Porter, who had a five-second violation on an inbounds play with 9.2 seconds left that put the Detroit Pistons in position to tie or win, ran out to contest the shot as the Wizards won their third in a row Saturday night.

With their star backcourt not playing their best, the Wizards rode 51 points from their bench in coming back from an 11-point deficit in the third quarter for a 97-95 victory at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Nene had 18 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals and Ramon Sessions contributed 14 points, a game-high nine assists and four rebounds. Jared Dudley had nine points and Garrett Temple, who returned to bench after starting the previous two games for Bradley Beal, had eight points and five rebounds.

The starters for the Wizards (6-4) closed out the game in the fourth quarter, with John Wall connecting with Marcin Gortat for a dunk at 1:06 for a 96-91 lead. Wall had just eight points and seven assists and Beal, playing his first game in two weeks after a left shoulder contusion, had just seven points. Gortat finished with 14 points and eight rebounds.

After Reggie Jackson made two foul shots, the Wizards had to simply inbound the ball, take the foul from the Pistons (7-6) and make the two free throws to seal the outcome. But Porter waited a hair too late to ask for a timeout which awarded the ball to Detroit.

Morris had an open look, passed it up and Porter was able to run out to challenge him on the final shot. Jackson had 20 points and nine assists and Ersan Ilyasova and Morris each had 18 points. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 16.

Porter otherwise had a solid game with 17 points, five rebounds and two steals.

  • Nene opened with 14 points on 7 of 7 shooting in his first eight minutes. He realized that Aron Baynes could not defend him, so when the slow-footed big tried to step out he'd put the ball on the floor and get to the rim. But again, it's Nene's reads on defense that made the bigger difference which led to the offensive burst.  His position defense forced Baynes to travel early in the second quarter and then there was a fantastic sequence when his help created a transition basket. Dudley stepped over on a pick-and-roll to assist Sessions on Jackson. Nene, defending Drummond on the low post on the strong side, peeled off his man and jumped the passing lane from Jackson to Ilyasova in the paint. He took the steal end to end for a layup and a 44-30 lead.
  • Beal, in his first game in two weeks, clearly wasn't in sync. He was invisible for the entire first half even though he started, taking just eight shots overall. He made a big one in the fourth quarter. With the teams trading the lead late in the fourth, Beal curled around a screen from Nene for a 90-89 lead.
  • Gortat continued to have success against Drummond, who entered the game with averages of 19 points and 19 rebounds. Drummond was held to eight points and 13 rebounds, his first game without a double-double this season. Most importantly, Drummond didn't get a single offensive rebound which is a category in which he dominates in the NBA. Including three meetings from last season, Gortat averages 17 points and 12 rebounds against Drummond.
  • Sessions didn't attempt a field goal in the first half but went to the foul line six times as he kept his dribble alive and forced whistles. He scored his 14 points on just five shots because he went to the foul line 10 times total. Sessions worked extra time after practice in Friday on taking contact on drives with assistant coaches to prepare and it paid off. 
  • Officials missing calls is part of the game. It goes both ways. But there were some egregious ones late. The game clock didn't start for about 11 seconds with 3:42 left in the fourth quarter when Detroit inbounded the ball down 94-89. Then Gortat grabbed an offensive rebound and was tied up by Morris who is 6-9. Drummond stuck his hand in there, but he didn't have a grip on the ball as the scramble was happening behind him. Morris had both hands on it. When the ball was jumped, it was Gortat vs. the much bigger Drummond instead and Detroit won the tip while coach Randy Wittman yelled uncontrollably for it to fall on deaf ears. And on Morris' final shot, look at when Drummond enters the lane and how long he stays. It lasts about 5.5 seconds as he had a mismatch on the much smaller Temple (Gortat stepped out to seal off dribble penetration by Jackson). When Porter committed his five-second violation, it was in fact close to exactly five seconds. If the game is being called that tight with nine seconds left, it should be called the same on Drummond's violation in the lane. The NBA releases an officiating report on the last two minutes of games within five points or less. While it won't address the non-starting clock or the jump ball mishap, it'll be interesting to see what they say at 5 p.m. ET Sunday.

MORE WIZARDS: Nene's stellar night summed up in one posession

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Elena Delle Donne the favorite to win WNBA MVP, according to league GMs

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Elena Delle Donne the favorite to win WNBA MVP, according to league GMs

Washington Mystics forward Elena Delle Donne is one of the best players in the WNBA, and thus is always in the discussion for MVP honors. 

And heading into the 2019 season, league GMs give her the best chance of anyone to actually hoist the trophy when it's all said and done. 

In a WNBA.com survey of general managers, 42 percent picked Delle Donne to win MVP in 2019. Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury had the second-most votes at 25 percent, followed by A’ja Wilson of Las Vegas Aces at 17 percent then Las Vegas' Liz Cambage and Jonquel Jones of the Connecticut Sun at eight percent. 

Delle Donne won her first and only WNBA MVP award in 2015 as a member of the Chicago Sky when she averaged a career-high 23.4 points per game. And with the Mystics set to make another run at the WNBA title (58 percent of GMs predicted Washington to have the most regular season wins in the Eastern Conference), she has a great opportunity to get her second this season. 


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Explained: What is an NBA supermax contract and how does it work?

Explained: What is an NBA supermax contract and how does it work?

As All-NBA teams are announced and franchises have to make decisions about contract extensions, fans will see the term "supermax contract" thrown around a lot. 

Here's a quick primer with everything you need to know about the NBA's most lucrative player deals. 

What is a supermax contract?

Officially known as the "Designated Veteran Player Extension," this rule allows teams to re-sign qualified players to maximum five-year contracts worth up to 35 percent of the salary cap with eight percent escalation in each subsequent year.

The length of the supermax deal depends on the player's years of NBA experience and years remaining on his current contract. 

  • A qualified player who has completed seven or eight years of service and has two years left on his contract is eligible for a four-year supermax (keeping the player with the same team for a total of six seasons)
  • A qualified player who has completed seven or eight years of service and has one year left on his contract is eligible for a five-year supermax (keeping the player with the same team for a total of six seasons)
  • A qualified free agent who has completed eight or nine years of service is eligible for a five-year supermax 

Furthermore, teams cannot trade a supermax player for the first year after he signs the contract.  

How much is a supermax contract worth?

Valued up to 35 percent of the salary cap in the initial year and subject to eight percent escalation in each subsequent year, these deals are mammoth money.

For example, the Wizards signed John Wall to a four-year supermax in the summer of 2017 when he had two years left on his contract. The supermax money begins in 2019-20 and pays Wall $38.15 million that year. With annual escalations, his supermax is worth $170.912 million over the four-year lifetime of the deal. 

According to a report by Yahoo's Chris Haynes, Damian Lillard—who has two years remaining on his current deal with the Trail Blazers and is expected to be named to an All-NBA team—will be offered a four-year supermax extension worth roughly $191 million this summer. 

Who is eligible to sign a supermax contract?

Very few players qualify for a supermax contract. First, only a player that has (or will have) completed eight years of NBA service by the end of his current contract is eligible to sign a supermax deal, which can only be offered by the team that drafted him or traded for his rookie contract. 

Then, a player must meet one of the following three criteria.

  • Be named to an All-NBA team in the most recent season or both seasons before it
  • OR, be named NBA Defensive Player of the Year in the most recent season or both seasons before it
  • OR, be named NBA MVP in any of the three previous seasons

Which players have received supermax contracts?

  • Stephen Curry - Golden State Warriors
  • James Harden - Houston Rockets
  • Russell Westbrook - Oklahoma City Thunder
  • John Wall - Washington Wizards

Who could receive a supermax contract this summer?

Anthony Davis is already eligible for a supermax offer from the Pelicans. And depending on the All-NBA, DPOY and MVP selections, the following players also could receive supermax offers:

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo - Milwaukee Bucks
  • Damian Lillard - Portland Trail Blazers
  • Klay Thompson - Golden State Warriors
  • Kemba Walker - Charlotte Hornets
  • Andre Drummond - Detroit Pistons
  • Bradley Beal - Washington Wizards 

What are the drawbacks to supermax deals?

The supermax contract was designed to help teams retain their players by allowing them to offer significantly more money than the competition; however, teams that offer such contracts are squeezing themselves in terms of salary cap room to fill out their rosters. 

No franchise can carry more than two supermax players at 35 percent of the cap each. Functionally, though, it's difficult for a team to have more than one.

Two supermax players would account for 70 percent of a team's salary in any given year, leaving the club virtually unable to sign a competitive supporting cast.