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Wizards waive Cook and Mack

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Wizards waive Cook and Mack

Not waiting for Monday's final roster deadline before becoming compliant with the NBA's roster limit, the Wizards announced two more player cuts on Sunday: guard Shelvin Mack and forward Brian Cook.

Barring additional transactions before Tuesday's regular season opener at Cleveland, Washington's 15-player roster includes the injured John Wall and Nene, training camp eve addition Jannero Pargo and journeyman center Earl Barron.

Over the weekend, Washington released guard Steven Gray and Shavlik Randolph. The pair was among the Wizards training camp invitees along with Cook and Barron, the 7-footer who has played parts of six NBA seasons.

Mack, the Wizards second round selection in 2011 who played in 64 games last season, is the biggest shock of those released - and yet not surprising at all.

In an attempt to shore up the team's backup point guard role behind John Wall and after Mack failed to impress during the Las Vegas Summer League, the Wizards added three-year veteran A.J. Price. When Wall went down just before the start of training camp, Washington added the 33-year-old Pargo, possessor of more NBA experience and a more accurate 3-point shot than Mack, who averaged 3.6 points and 2.0 assists last season.

The only one of battling point guards not to start one of Washington's eight preseason games, Mack stepped up his play as a facilitator during the preseason, doling out 24 assists compared to only four turnovers. Regardless, the Wizards felt comfortable enough starting the season with two point guards on the roster. Price turning in a strong effort over the final four games and Pargo's resume helped with that feeling. Jordan Crawford and Bradley Beal can also slide over from the wing guard slot to lead the attack in spots.

It’s also possible the team decided that it won’t keep four point guards whenever Wall returns – projected time frame is just after Thanksgiving – and simply cut to the chase. Yet it's the various frontcourt ailments - Nene's foot and Kevin Seraphin's calf in particular - that apparently led to the Wizards choosing height (Barron) over a third point guard or another shooter (Cook).

In seven preseason games, the 31-year-old Barron averaged 4.0 points and 4.3 rebounds. Playing for seven NBA teams since debuting in 2005-06 with Miami, the 250-pounder averaged 5.1 points.

The Wizards acquired Cook with Nene in the three-team trade that sent JaVale McGee and Ronny Turiaf to Denver and Nick Young to the Los Angeles Clippers.  The 32-year-old appeared in 16 games for the Wizards last season, averaging 3.1 points and 2.5 rebounds. The nine-year NBA veteran shot 41.7 percent from beyond the arc during camp, but lacks Barron's size in the paint.

Outside of Barron, the only healthy 6-foot-9 or taller options for coach Randy Wittman are Emeka Okafor and Jan Vesely. Forwards Trevor Booker and Chris Singleton also missed time due to injury during the preseason. 

After missing the entire preseason, Nene's expected return from his lingering bout of plantar fasciitis remains uncertain. Same could be said Seraphin, who missed or parts of the Wizards final five preseason games, though his calf issue appears to be more of a day-to-day concern.

For now, Barron stays with the team as a reserve center. Should Nene and Seraphin return sooner than later, Wittman may opt for another ball handler over Barron. Regardless, for now, Mack and Cook look for work elsewhere.

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Tom Haberstroh: 'I just don't know if the timing is right' for Masai Ujiri to join Wizards

Tom Haberstroh: 'I just don't know if the timing is right' for Masai Ujiri to join Wizards

As soon as the clock hit zero in Game 6 of the NBA Finals and cemented the Toronto Raptors as the 2019 NBA Champions, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that the Wizards were preparing to make a lucrative offer to Toronto GM Masai Ujiri. 

NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig confirmed that Washington was prepared to give the Raptors top front office executive a deal that would be hard to refuse.

The rumored interest in Ujiri became the topic of the most recent Wizards Talk Podcast discussion, and Monday, NBC Sports NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh spoke on the potential pairing. 

"If you're Ted Leonsis and the ownership in D.C., you're hoping that the Raptors are out [of the playoffs] early so you can start the talks and you can try to lure Masai Ujiri over a few days or a week but they dont have that time before Thursday's draft," Haberstroh said.

"I just don't know if the timing is right for Masai to make such a huge decision in his career in the next couple of days."

Ted Leonsis' offer isn't the only factor trying to bring Ujiri to the nation's capital. The Raptors' executive has a relationship with former President Barack Obama, which could weight in the Wizards favor, and Ujiri's wife, Ramatu, attended high school in the D.C. area as well.

"If he takes this job, it is not about the basketball reasons, its all about the off-court reasons, whether it's Barack Obama recruiting him, or it's his wife who is from the area," Haberstroh added.

While Wizards fan would welcome Ujiri to Washington with open arms and hope that he is the missing piece to set the franchise in the right direction, Haberstroh isn't sure that Ujiri bolts from Toronto so soon.

"I just don't know if the timing is right for Masai Ujiri to leave a champion in Toronto," Haberstroh said.

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'Sincere interest': Latest on Pelicans exploring trade for Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal

'Sincere interest': Latest on Pelicans exploring trade for Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal

While the Washington Wizards struggled defensively last season, the organization is holding firm when it comes to rebuffing offers for Bradley Beal.

The New Orleans Pelicans showed sincere interest in the two-time All-Star before Saturday’s blockbuster that sent Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers. That curiosity remains and the two sides broadly discussed a trade scenario involving Beal, multiple sources told NBC Sports Washington.

The Pelicans are open to dealing the newly acquired fourth overall selection in Thursday’s NBA Draft according to numerous reports. New Orleans also landed three young players from Los Angeles -- Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart -- plus additional future picks and pick swaps.

Whatever the initial parameters, the conversation never veered close to actual negotiations, according to a source.

The basis for trading Beal centers on maximizing his asset value with two years and $56 million remaining on his original five-year contract signed in 2016. Washington likely struggles next season with fellow guard John Wall out and an evolving roster that currently has only five players with guaranteed contracts.

This one rejection does not mean Washington has completely shut the door on future talks with teams. However, the sense from league sources is the team plans on keeping Beal despite ample interest from contenders.

Beal, who turns 26 this month, just completed a near All-NBA season in which he and MVP candidate James Harden were the only players to average 25 points, five rebounds, five assists and 1.5 steals per game. The ascending talent is the lone healthy starter on the roster with Wall sidelined until 2020 with a torn Achilles.

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