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Wizards take closer look at UConn's Andre Drummond


Wizards take closer look at UConn's Andre Drummond

As Andre Drummond readied himself for questions from the local media following his workout with the Wizards on Monday, Washington assistant coach Gene Banks momentarily stopped the process. Banks, himself a rugged, albeit undersized power player during his college days at Duke, put his arm around the physically imposing center before proceeding to smile andjoke his way through a statement about Drummond being his long lost son.If the 6-foot-11, 278 pound Drummond truly carried some of that Banks high-effort DNA, there would be no question about who the Wizards would take with the third overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. Actually, in that scenario, they would not even have a chance on June 28 seeing as how there would be no way Drummond makes it past the Bobcats at two. It certainly would not be a foregone conclusion like it is now that Kentucky shotblocker Anthony Davis is the overall number one pick.
Alas, that part of the 18-year-olds big man game he turns 19 in August - remains in question. That and whetherDrummond's truly raw offensive skill set will develop in rapid enough fashion for a team ready to make a move toward the playoffs and away from its perpetual draft lottery status.Other likely candidates for the Wizards first selection, including Kansas Thomas Robinson, Floridas Bradley Beal and Kentuckys Michael Kid-Gilchrist, have recently been put through the paces by Wizards coach Randy Wittman and his staff. Now it was the Connecticut freshmans turn.It went really well. Its a great day for me today, Drummond said following his session on the Wizards practice court, his third to date with an NBA team. Im definitely starting to come around. The workouts are good, real good. Im working well the coaching staff. Everything is going real good for me right now."Drummond, who averaged 10.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks last season for the Huskies, also has scheduled upcoming visits in Charlotte and Cleveland. His mock draft projections range from number two down to the middle of the lottery teams. While these individual team sessions are said to be only a small portion of the overall evaluation process, it provides the player a chance to show what they have going on.That I can be an all-around player that can definitely defend the hoop, block a shot, grab rebounds, but also put points on the board. I can run the floor real well, Drummond said of what he hoped to show the Wizards and other inquiring teams.He didnt mention shooting ability. That is because right now, his is not on the positive side of the assessment ledger.Though Drummond finished his one college season as 54 percent shooter, most of his attempts came on dunks or looks within proximity of the basket. Out at the free throw line, Drummond clanked at an astonishingly low 29.5 percent (26 of 88). During the small window of time the media watched his workout on Monday, Drummond uncomfortably missed three of four free throws with at least one errant toss finding only the side of the rim.Good thing for Drummond its his size and physical skill set that attracts NBA teams. His shot blocking ways could help a team in year one even if his offense remains a work in progres. In preparation for the draft, Drummond said he has lost 22 pounds since the season ended.From the Wizards perspective, will they want to take on another big man project after going through the slow process with another physically gifted big man (though in different ways), JaVale McGee. Since Drummond is not ready to be a contributor and may not be for another year or two, the Wizards may find themselvessimply grooming him so he can go play elsewhere once his rookie contract is up. That would also lead to a similar financial debate like the one that just took place over McGee. In addition, Washington currently employs two wide body types on the roster - Nene and Kevin Seraphin- that figure to eat up most of the center minutes.The teams primary needs lie on the perimeter, in terms of bodies and shooters. Clearly, Drummond cannot help in those areas. Whether his upside outweighs those current concerns is what the Wizards must decide either at No. 3 or as a trade down option.

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Potential coaching staff changes rocket into discussion for Wizards

Potential coaching staff changes rocket into discussion for Wizards

We can begin free agent watch with the Washington Wizards way before July 1.

This isn’t about players. Coaching changes can happen whenever.

News broke Saturday out of Houston that the Rockets would not retain associate head coach Jeff Bzdelik. Considered one of the league’s top defensive minds, Bzdelik’s relationship with Scott Brooks along with comments made by the Wizards head coach at the NBA Combine makes this transaction interesting.

Bzdelik, 66, gave Brooks his first NBA coaching job when the then Denver Nuggets head coach hired the former player in 2003.

"I'm thankful for coach Bzdelik," Brooks told the Houston Chronicle in 2016.  "He gave me my first NBA coaching start. One of the best coaches I've ever been around. He has great understanding of the game, both ends of the floor.”

Fast forward to Thursday inside Chicago’s Quest Multisport facility. Amid 5-on-5 games involving 2019 draft prospects, players holding court with media members and the general convention vibe that comes with the NBA Combine, Brooks spent a few minutes chatting with reporters.

Among the non-draft or general manager search topics, whether any changes to the coaching staff were forthcoming.

"I’ve talked to Ted. I definitely talked Ted,” Brooks began his reply, referencing Wizards owner Ted Leonsis. “I have a lot of respect for our organization. I have to get better, first and foremost…Will the staff remain the same? Every year, staffs change. Every year staffs change. We're probably going to make some changes. I don't know if it's for sure. Everything is still up in the air.”

Brooks also noted change could come from members of his staff seeking opportunities elsewhere. Tony Brown, Brooks’ lead assistant during his three seasons with the Wizards, became a coaching free agent following Washington’s 32-50 season, according to NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller.

Two days after Brooks’ comments came news of Bzdelik’s exit in Houston.

Bzdelik, a former Bullets assistant from 1988-94 and three-time college head coach, retired following the 2017-18 season. He returned to the Rockets in November following Houston’s slow start. The associate head coach is credited with guiding the team’s defensive improvement as the Rockets rose up the Western Conference standings.

The Houston Chronicle reported Bzdelik, whose contract expired after this season, remained uncommitted to returning. The Rockets announced Saturday they would not renew his deal.

The Wizards do not want a repeat of their defensive struggles. Only the Atlanta Hawks allowed more points per game than the 116.9 Washington surrendered last season. The Wizards ranked 28th in opponent field goal percentage (48.0) and 27th in 3-point shooting percentage (37.0).

It’s unclear how the Wizards fix those defensive concerns based solely on personnel. The current roster with five healthy players does not include any forwards or mobile big men. Point guard John Wall is expected to miss the majority of the upcoming season following February’s surgery for a ruptured Achilles. Wall, an erratic defensive presence in recent seasons, was previously selected to the NBA’s all-defensive team in 2015.

Coaching strategies could become the primary driver of change on the defensive end. The man who brought Brooks into the coaching fraternity would make for an obvious addition if both sides are interested.

"The accountability that [Jeff] taught me with the coaching staff and the players is second to none,” Brooks told the Chronicle in 2016. “I learned about work. I learned how to transfer my playing career into a coaching career with his help."

News of the next front office leader likely comes before coaching staff tweaks.

Nuggets President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly was offered the same position with the Wizards Saturday after Denver granted Washington permission to meet. In the interim, the Wizards sent a contingent of scouting personnel along with Brooks to Chicago as the team conducted player interviews and watched scrimmages.

“Ted is going to make a decision and I trust that I going to be the best for the program moving forward,” Brooks said Thursday. “As of right now, (interim GM Tommy Sheppard) is doing a great job leading the group. We all feel comfortable with what’s going on. Hopefully, things work out and we move forward as an organization. We all have to get better, myself included.”


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Five things to know about Wizards general manager search candidate Tim Connelly

Five things to know about Wizards general manager search candidate Tim Connelly

The Washington Wizards have reportedly offered their vacant general manager position to Tim Connelly. The news was first reported by the Athletic.

Here are five things to know about him...

1. Connelly is a Baltimore native who transferred to Catholic University in D.C. during his junior year in college, graduating from there in 1999. 

2. Connelly began his NBA front office career with the Wizards, starting as an intern in 1996. He spent a decade with the organization, holding such roles as assistant video coordinator, head scout, and director of player personnel. 

3. After leaving the Wizards, Connelly spent three seasons serving as the assistant general manager of the New Orleans Pelicans. 

4. Connelly joined the Nuggets organization in 2013 as the executive vice president of basketball operations. He was promoted to President of Basketball Operations in 2017. Connelly has been part of a Denver front office that has drafted the likes of Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Gary Harris over the last five years. 

5. Connelly has six siblings, including four brothers: Joe, Pat, Dan and Kevin. All four of them have also worked in basketball in some capacity, Joe, Pat, and Dan all following Tim into the NBA ranks.