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Wizards weigh options: Potential trade targets and soon-to-expire DPE


Wizards weigh options: Potential trade targets and soon-to-expire DPE

The weeklong vacation is over and now the Wizards are in a holding pattern as they await Thursday's 3 p.m. ET trade deadline. Even in the event that they do nothing -- believing that a fully healthy roster for the first time all season is enough to get over the hump and back into the playoff picture -- they still have options on the table.


Ryan Anderson (Pelicans) and Miles Plumlee (Bucks) have long been floated as possibilities for the Wizards, but the there are two keys to focus on with any deal that's made: The Wizards would prefer to avoid picking up too much additional salary that locks them in beyond this season -- a posture they held true to during this time a year ago -- and giving up draft picks without any guarantees in return.

P.J. Tucker (Suns) is a physical defender with three-point range that seems like a good fit, but he has a partial guarantee of $3.8 million for 2016-17 which pushes him down the board. His teammate Mirza Teletovic, a 6-9, three-point shooting stretch forward, is similar to Anderson in his ability to spread the floor and his $5.5 million deal will expire but he doesn't appear to have generated much interest on this end either.

Anderson is a free agent after this season which meets part of the requirement, but the Wizards will hold a firm line on giving up a first-round pick for him. Why? With Anderson unrestricted, unless they have an understanding that they can re-sign him this summer, he walks and turns out to be a 31-game rental that costs a first-round pick. The Wizards would be open to going after him in the summer though bidding and the growing salary cap inevitably will drive up his pricetag from where it stands at $8.5 million.

Plumlee is affordable ($1.4 million) and expiring and isn't out of the question.

Disabled Player Exception

The Wizards still have a $2.8 million DPE for Martell Webster, who was waived before the season, that can be used until March 10. It can be used in two ways: NBA players can be bought out of their contracts up until March 1, something the Wizards were hoping for a year ago with guards Jameer Nelson and Gary Neal (signed last summer as a free agent).

Washington could absorb a player in the final year of his deal by using the DPE in a trade before the deadline without sending anything more in return than a highly protected second-round pick -- aka a "fake" pick -- to meet CBA requirements to consummate a deal. The sending team would be more concerned here with shedding salary for a pick that would never come to fruition to make it a win-win. 

If the Wizards bypass the trade deadline and go the DPE/bought-out free-agent route they're still in good position to pick up the best free agent available. How? The $2.8 million (half of Webster's salary) isn't a pro-rated amount if used on a free agent. While other teams who sign bought-out players to deals that are pro-rated based on veteran minimum salaries, the Wizards could sign someone for the full amount for two months' work. They'd probably stop short of that, however, to stay out of the luxury tax (about $2.4 million at most). The Wizards are an over-the-salary-cap-but-under-the-luxury-tax team. 

The DPE doesn't allow for a 16th player. The Wizards still have to waive someone to make room by using the DPE. 

And, of course, they can do both: Orchestrate a trade by the deadline and waive a player/use the DPE by March 10 as long as they stay out of the tax.

Whatever the decision by Washington, if anything, it likely happens Thursday as other dominoes fall. The strategy served them well two years ago when they brought in Andre Miller (trade) and Drew Gooden (unsigned free agent) to revive a struggling bench and Ramon Sessions (trade) last season to make playoff runs. 

MORE WIZARDS: Alan Anderson practices with Wizards for first time

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Despite struggles at Oregon, Wizards believe Troy Brown can develop into a good shooter at NBA level

Despite struggles at Oregon, Wizards believe Troy Brown can develop into a good shooter at NBA level

The NBA is so perimeter-oriented these days that often the first statistic cited for a player leaving college for the pros is three-point percentage, regardless of the position. Even big men are expected to knock down threes, for if they can't then there is less space on the floor and like Neil deGrasse Tyson, NBA teams love them some space.

Three-point shooting, however, is not a strength for Wizards' first round pick Troy Brown, Jr., at least not yet. In his lone season at Oregon, he shot just 29.1 percent from long range. Brown can play multiple positions, from point guard to small forward, and shooting is important to be successful at all of them.

Brown and the Wizards, though, are not concerned about his potential to develop an outside shot in the long-term. Brown addressed the issue after his pre-draft workout with the Wizards earlier this month and cited a very specific reason not to worry.

"I don’t think it was my mechanics. I think it was my shot selection this year," he said. "Some of the shots I was taking weren’t very good. It’s about repetition, getting in the gym and putting up shots. I feel like I’ve been doing a good job showcasing that and I feel like a lot of teams are impressed with my shooting."

Brown knocked down plenty of shots in his workout with the Wizards. That helped convince them to select him at No. 15, as they see a guy with potential to become at least a serviceable shooter from long range.

“We’re very confident that we can improve it," head coach Scott Brooks said. "From what I understand, he’s very coachable and he wants to get better. That’s a big part of the step in developing a young player."

Team president Ernie Grunfeld seemed to agree with Brown's personal assessment, that it's not a problem with his mechanics per se. Surely they will tinker with his shot once he gets in their development system. But they don't see the need for a dramatic overhaul.

"He's got a nice stroke," Grunfeld said. "Obviously, when you're a freshman coming up to another level there are different things you have to work on, and we have a really good player development staff and we're going to get him to work right away."

Players of Brown's ilk developing an outside shot at the NBA level is more common than many may think. Just because someone isn't a good shooter in one college season, doesn't mean they will never be able to develop the skill once they mature as a man and a basketball player.

Though Brown's scoring repertoire may seem limited, plenty of players have gone from rags to riches offensively at the professional level. Brown may have to begin his NBA career helping in other ways, like on the defensive end, before his scoring abilities round into form.

Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Jimmy Butler could be seen as a best-case scenario example. He made only 36 threes in three years in college and shot just 35.3 percent as a junior. When he was Brown's age, as a freshman he averaged only 5.6 points, and as an NBA rookie he shot just 18.2 percent from three.

Through years of hard work, Butler turned himself into a 20-point scorer with a respectable outside shot, including a career-beset 37.8 percent from three in the 2014-15 season. Some guys take more time than others. At only 18 years old, Brown has plenty of time to figure it out.


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How drawing up a play in the interview process helped sell the Wizards on Troy Brown

How drawing up a play in the interview process helped sell the Wizards on Troy Brown

While meeting with Oregon's Troy Brown during the pre-draft interview process, evaluators from the Washington Wizards issued him an on-the-spot challenge. Head coach Scott Brooks pulled out a dry-erase clipboard and a pen. He wanted to see Brown draw up a play.

This is a test Brooks has administered before to other players. Some have failed miserably.

"It sounds easy to throw a board at somebody in front of a big group and say 'okay draw a play' and I have seen many plays drawn, and I have seen it where there are not five players on the floor," Brooks said.

That wasn't the case with Brown. He didn't just draw up one play, he drew up several. One in particular came to mind when asked by reporters on Thursday night soon after the Wizards took him 15th overall in the first round of the NBA Draft.

“I think it was a situation where we were down by two or something like that," he said. "It was like a back screen into a slip, and then the fade three and they gave you a lot of various options to cause mismatches on the court for a last minute shot to either go ahead, or even attack the basket for a layup to go into overtime.”

NBC Sports Washington analyst Cory Alexander, a veteran of seven NBA seasons, demonstrated what Brown's play looked like on a whiteboard:

The Xs and Os of basketball flow effortlessly for Brown and Wizards' brass couldn't help but be impressed.

"He really understands the game. I think for a kid that is 18 years old, that is rare but he just has a good feel," Brooks said. 

"We were impressed with his character and the type of person he is and his basketball knowledge," team president Ernie Grunfeld said. "Obviously, like any young player, he has a lot of work to do but he has a lot of the intangibles that I think you need in today's game."

Smarts are a big part of what makes Brown a good basketball player. He isn't a particularly explosive athlete, with a modest 33-inch max vertical leap, but he boasts a 6-foot-10 wingspan and solid agility. Being in the right place at the right time and knowing how to operate an offense helps him make the most of his natural abilities.

Passing is where his basketball IQ comes in handy. Brown is unusually good at distributing for a 6-foot-7 small forward. He averaged 3.2 assists as a freshman at Oregon and nine times had five assists or more in a game.

He can pass like a point guard and the Wizards are excited to implement that skill into their offense.

"Passing is contagious. We’ve been pretty good the last two years and with talking about that how we even want to take another step," Brooks said. "He has the ability to make a lot of quick plays and his ball handling is pretty good for a guy his size. That is one thing I was impressed in his workout last week or when we had him. He is able to take the contact and use his strong frame to get inside the key and make plays.”


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