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As Wizards wait on one Montrose Christian product, they work out another

As Wizards wait on one Montrose Christian product, they work out another

The Wizards are starting the process of bringing in members of the 2016 NBA Draft class for workouts. Any insight into the prospects and how they could help a Washington roster with possibly 9-10 spots open won't come from seeing the workouts as they are not open for the media this year. However, in some cases, including Wednesday's initial workout, the players will be rather familiar and therefore I'll post some thoughts as we go through the process. First up:

Prospect: Kevin Larsen

College: George Washington

Measurables: 6-foot-10, 273 lbs

Class: Senior

Stats: Averaged 12.3 points, team-high 8.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists. 

Strengths: When focused, Larsen turned into a dominant offensive threat for the Colonials, especially during the run to GW's NIT championship. He scored at least 16 points in four of five NIT games including 18 in the title win over Valparaiso. Whether at the low or high post, the offense often ran through the big man, who coach Mike Lonergan the team's best passer for most of his four seasons. Larsen effectively used his sturdy frame to score inside and attack the boards. The Denmark native/Montrose Christian product led the Colonals in 3-point shooting at 47.2% (17 of 36). 

Weaknesses: Inconsistencies with his game could be maddening, particulary when the team needed points. Whether a case of being too deferential or not, Larsen had a tendency to disappear at times. The under-the-basket big man is not a great athlete and possesses unimpressive wingspan (measured 6'9" at Portsmouth Invitational) for a center. Never averaged more than 1.0 blocked shot per game. Cited Dwight Howard, Josh Smith and more recently DeMarcus Cousins as his favorite basketball players, a trio few coaches would love.

Outlook: Larsen would be an interesting D-League candidate -- if the Wizards had that option -- and late round pick -- if the NBA would expand beyond two rounds. Strong basketball instincts are hard to come by and he's got that. With some added strength and attitude, there's some junior Nene upside. However, the athletic limitations will hold him back unless he can develop the other parts of hs game. The Wizards need some backups behind starting center Marcin Gortat and could look to add players like Larsen to their summer league roster for a longer look.

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Trading Jodie Meeks gives Washington Wizards much-needed salary cap relief

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Trading Jodie Meeks gives Washington Wizards much-needed salary cap relief

With a luxury tax bill of approximately $19 million on the way, the Washington Wizards gave themselves some salary relief on Monday by trading veteran guard Jodie Meeks to the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Wizards attached a future second round pick and cash to the deal and in exchange received a future second round pick of their own, NBC Sports Washington has confirmed. ESPN first reported the news.

Though Meeks, 31, was due to make $3.45 million this season, his departure saves the Wizards about $7 million because of projected tax penalties. That's a lot of savings in a deal that got rid of a player who had become expendable.

Meeks had fallen out of favor with the Wizards for a variety of reasons. He was due to serve a 19-game suspension to begin the season due to performance-enhancing drugs. The ban was announced the day before their first round playoff series against the Raptors was set to begin in April.

Meeks also underperformed last season in the first year of his contract with the Wizards and requested a trade in February. This summer, Meeks exercised his player option to remain with the team.

The Wizards were not likely to count on Meeks much at all this season because they traded for Austin Rivers in June to add depth at the shooting guard position. Meeks' role was made clear by the fact he did not appear in any of the Wizards' four preseason games against NBA opponents.

Meeks' tenure in Washington was a significant disappointment. The Wizards signed him last summer in hopes he could shore up the shooting guard spot on their bench. 

Though he stayed healthy for the first time in years, he never earned the trust of his coaching staff. The Wizards opted to rely more heavily on starter Bradley Beal, who logged the fourth-most minutes of any NBA player last season.

Now, they are moving on.

Meeks leaving the organization should have little effect on the Wizards, though it does leave them with a hole on their roster that needs to be filled. They currently have 13 players, one below the league minimum. The Wizards now have 14 days to add a 14th player.

They could sign a free agent, convert one of their players on two-way contracts (Devin Robinson and Jordan McRae) or make a trade. The Meeks deal gives them a $3.45 million trade exception.


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Dwight Howard practices for first time with Wizards, raising likelihood he plays in opener

Dwight Howard practices for first time with Wizards, raising likelihood he plays in opener

On Monday, for the first time since 2018-19 training camp began, the Wizards were complete.

Dwight Howard, who missed three weeks due to a strained piriformis muscle, participated in his first full practice with his new team. The 32-year-old signed a free agent deal with the Wizards in July, but had yet to take the court due to the injury, which began bothering him shortly before camp began on Sept. 25.

Howard had a setback on Oct. 6 and saw a specialist in New York. He received a pain injection on Tuesday and on Saturday began shooting again.

After clearing that hurdle, he was ready to be a full-go with his new teammates.

"It felt pretty good. I really gotta catch my wind and learn some of the offense. But other than that, it felt pretty good," Howard said of Day 1.

Howard practicing on Monday gives him two more days to work with before the Wizards open their season on Thursday at home against the Miami Heat. Both he and head coach Scott Brooks say it's too early to tell if he will be available.

"We'll see how it feels. I will do everything I can to make myself available for all 82 games," Howard said.

Howard not only has to play himself into game shape, he has to develop chemistry and timing with his new teammates. He missed all five of their preseason games.

If Howard can play, that would certainly be a positive turn of events for the Wizards. As of the end of last week, it seemed highly unlikely he would be ready when the regular season began.

But Howard turned a corner and now appears to be coming along quicker than once expected. 

"It was probably our best practice of training camp," Brooks said Monday after finally getting Howard into the mix.

"He has a natural feel. His IQ was pretty high, I was impressed with that. He picked things up."

Howard signed a two-year contract worth $11 million to join the Wizards in July.