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5 biggest offseason questions still remaining for the Wizards

5 biggest offseason questions still remaining for the Wizards

The Wizards are set to begin their Summer League schedule this weekend and have already made a series of moves to reshape their roster for the 2019-20 campaign. Here are the five biggest questions surrounding their offseason as it gets set to enter a new phase...

1. When will they name a full-time team president?

The Wizards are now in their fourth month of trying to find Ernie Grunfeld's replacement as front office architect. Senior vice president Tommy Sheppard has done a solid job in the interim and it seems like most fans are on board with him getting promoted to a long-term post. 

But are the Wizards going to do that, or are they going to hand this team over to an external candidate with the draft and free agency all but complete? The wait that no one thought would take this long continues.

2. Will they sign Beal to an extension?

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Wizards hope to offer All-Star Bradley Beal to a contract extension this summer. They can give him about $111 million over three years. Whether Beal will take it, though, is hard to tell.

He has already indicated he will consider the offer, which is not surprising given it is, at the end of the day, $111 million dollars we're talking about. But Beal could opt to bet on himself and wait. If he gets All-NBA next season, he could get more than double that amount over a five-year contract.

Beal has also said he wants to see the team's direction before committing long-term. He wants to win and so far most of the moves they have made have been about getting better down the road rather than for this coming season.

3. Are they set at point guard?

The Wizards have already addressed point guard in several ways in signing Ish Smith, Isaiah Thomas and undrafted free agent Justin Robinson. But that group, although intriguing, is likely to represent a drop-off from what they had last season with Tomas Satoransky. Smith is a solid veteran, but whether you can compete for a playoff spot with him as your starter is debatable. 

They could still, though, do something via trade. The Wizards have trade exceptions, young players and draft picks. They don't have enough to make a big splash, but might be able to upgrade at point guard if they are really motivated to do so.

4. How do they sort out center?

The Wizards have a bit of a logjam at the center position. They re-signed Thomas Bryant to a three-year contract worth $25 million, so clearly he is their future and should probably start. But that could create an interesting situation with Dwight Howard, an accomplished player returning from the back surgery that sidelined him for the final five months of last season.

Howard, 33, may be able to help the Wizards. Rebounding was arguably their most glaring weakness last season and that's what he does best. But the Wizards are trying to reset for the future and change their locker room culture and, if they decided to part ways, it wouldn't be the first time Howard has fallen victim to that.

5. Are they rebuilding?

Wizards majority owner Ted Leonsis said in January that his team did not plan to tank, but what they are doing right now is starting to look a lot like a heavily-armored military vehicle. They let Bobby Portis, Trevor Ariza, Jeff Green and Satoransky go and didn't replace them with equal players. The Wizards won 32 games last season and have let more talent leave than they have brought in.

There is still plenty of time this offseason to make roster moves. Though they have little money to spend, they could add more veterans that way or strike a trade. But right now, the team's ceiling appears to be lower than it was last season.

Now, much of what they are doing is smart. They are adding young players and draft picks, two things that they needed. But they appear to be a move or two away from completing a full teardown.

Perhaps some would argue that is the best course at this point, but keep in mind that tanking is often fool's gold, especially with the new lottery system.

The Raptors won a title this year without a single lottery pick. Meanwhile, teams like the Knicks, Suns, Kings and Magic have been tanking for years and don't have a whole lot to show for it. Yes, the Kings have some young talent, but the last time they made the playoffs, in 2006, Peja Stojakovic was on their team. 

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Ever Wonder: Why the name change from Bullets to Wizards?

Ever Wonder: Why the name change from Bullets to Wizards?

When you walk into Capital One Arena and look to the rafters you'll see banners of all-time Washington Bullets players and a banner that commemorates the franchise's only NBA Championship from the 1977-78 season. While you're admiring the greatness, you slowly start to think about the transition the organization took from Bullets to the Wizards.

Why was the name abruptly changed from one that carried an NBA World Championship to the Wizards? And why change the patriotic color scheme of red white and blue to white blue and bronze?

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On November 4, 1995, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and close friend of then Wizards owner Abe Pollin, was assassinated at a Tel Aviv peace rally. Four days after his funeral, Pollin made the announcement that his team would no longer go by the name "Bullets," after 32 years of sporting the moniker. 

"My friend was shot in the back by bullets,” Pollin said. “The name ‘Bullets’ is no longer appropriate for a sports team.”

On top of the gun violence that took a close friend away from Pollin, Washington D.C. was in the midst of a terrible reign of drug abuse and gang-affiliated gun violence in the 1990s, marking it as one of the most dangerous, and deadly cities in the country. 

The process leading to the name "Wizards" wasn't as easy as some may think. In 1997 the team opened up 1-800 lines to the community and allowed them to vote on a number of possible names to replace Bullets.

The options included Sea Dogs, Dragons, Express, Stallions and Wizards. 

The fans made the right choice. 

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How Mark Cuban's proposed regular season and expanded playoff format for NBA's return could benefit the Wizards

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How Mark Cuban's proposed regular season and expanded playoff format for NBA's return could benefit the Wizards

As the NBA continues to work toward resuming the 2019-20 season, one of the biggest questions remaining revolves around what the format of the remaining campaign will be.

When the season was put on hold, most teams had about 17 or 18 regular-season games left on their schedule. With play not set, it's unlikely the new timeframe could accommodate completing the original schedule. Though that won't impact the league's top teams, those fighting for the final playoff spots will lose valuable chances to gain ground.

How can the league hit the ground running and get into the playoffs while also giving almost every team a fair shot? Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has an idea.

"I want to change things around," Cuban told Mike Tirico on NBC Sports' Lunch Talk Live. “You know me, I’m a mover, shake. I want to experiment.”

Cuban suggested a plan that would include impactful regular season games for a majority of the league and an expanded playoff format. The regular season would have five games for every team, thus giving all 30 squads a chance to move up, or down, in the standings.

The five matchups become more important for those in the bottom half of the conferences when Cuban's playoff plans are taken into consideration. In this format, the field would be expanded from 16 teams to 20, with 10 coming from the East Conference and 10 from the West Conference. Teams outside of the eighth seeds would now have five games to secure one of the extra seeds in the postseason, and plenty of teams would be part of the race.

“If we do that, every team in the Eastern Conference would have a chance, at least, of making the playoffs," Cuban said. "All but two in the Western Conference would do it.” 

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The innovation doesn't end there, the 17-20 seeds in the playoffs would play in a one-game elimination-style matchup. The winners then take on the eight seed from each conference in a best-of-five series, while the top two teams from each side have a first round bye. After that, the playoffs resort back to the normal format the NBA has followed for years.

Cuban feel his idea works not only because it brings more teams into the mix, but because it also ramps up the intensity and playoff-like feel of every matchup once the season resumes. It's something new for the league, but he thinks the unique situation of the season calls for just that.

“That gives us a chance to have some more playoff games, some more excitement, some more meaningful games," Cuban said. "That gives almost every team a chance  when we come back for whatever’s going to be left of our regular season to do something interesting and compete for something.”

“I think we gotta change it up some. We can’t just go the tried and true way," he added. 

For the Wizards, Cuban's idea would change everything, specifically the expanded playoff format. As it stands now, Washington is ninth in the Eastern Conference, but 5.5 games back of the Orlando Magic for the eighth spot. Even with five regular-season games, a perfect record combined with an 0-5 showing from the Magic would leave the Wizards a half-game short. But with 10 teams allowed, Washington could easily find its way into the four-team playoff with a chance to play a full series.

The 2019-20 season comes with unique circumstances. In standard times, the Wizards would have had 18 games to try and catch Orlando and others. But with that off the table, the extra seeds is the most appealing option. 

Besides giving more teams a chance in the shortened season, Cuban also believes that his idea could be a beneficial trial as the NBA continuously tries to adapt and improve the game. As someone who has had plenty of experiences with implementing new business ideas, he knows that the only way to see if something works is to try it out and see how the consumers react.

“Like a shark tank, we'll test it out first," Cuban said. "We'll see how the market responds.”

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