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Austin Rivers close to returning for Wizards, Dwight Howard is not

Austin Rivers close to returning for Wizards, Dwight Howard is not

The Wizards were again without two of their most prominent offseason additions on Wednesday, the second day of their 2018-19 training camp, as Dwight Howard (back soreness) and Austin Rivers (neck spasms) were not a full-go.

Howard again sat out for the entirety of the practice, while Rivers was dressed in practice gear but did not participate in contact drills. 

Rivers at least appears to be trending in the right direction, as head coach Scott Brooks said he "felt much better" the day after leaving Tuesday's practice with neck discomfort. Howard, on the other hand, doesn't appear as close to returning as initially thought.

"He's progressing, but it's going to be a couple more days before we see how he feels there," Brooks said.

That means Howard could end up sitting out most of, if not all of, the rest of training camp. The Wizards close camp on Saturday as they look ahead to their first preseason game on Oct. 1.

The Wizards continue to refer to Howard's injury as minor and Howard himself believes it was sustained from flying on cramped planes this offseason. It is not believed to be related to the back issues that plagued Howard earlier in his career.

It is also worth noting the Wizards do not play their first regular season game until Oct. 18 and Howard, a 14-year NBA veteran, knows how to get himself prepared for a new season. 

But any time he can spend developing chemistry with his new teammates is valuable. Howard signed as a free agent with the Wizards in July.

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Which NBA players are sitting out NBA restart at Disney World?

Which NBA players are sitting out NBA restart at Disney World?

Between concerns over the rising number of coronavirus cases in Florida, upcoming free agency, inherent injury risks with playing after a four-month layoff and the issues Kyrie Irving has raised regarding the Black Lives Matter movement, it's understandable that some players may opt to sit out the unprecedented restart at Disney World. 

Players have until June 24 to notify their team that they aren't playing and we've already seen a few players opting to sit out. Here's a running list of NBA players who are reportedly not planning to play in Orlando later this summer.

DeAndre Jordan, Brookly Nets: Jordan announced himself that he tested positive for COVID-19 and because of it will be foregoing the restart in Orlando. 

Wilson Chandler, Brooklyn Nets: Siting the health and well-being of his family, Chandler informed the Nets he would not be participating in the season's restart, according to ESPN's Malika Andrews

Willie Cauley-Stein, Dallas Mavericks: According to The Athletic's Shams Charania, the Mavs' center is expecting the birth of his child in July, so he will not be going to Orlando.

Avery Bradley, Los Angeles Lakers: Bradley elected not to play in Orlando due to his six-year-old son's past struggles with respiratory illnesses. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, it was unlikely Bradley would've been medically cleared to enter the bubble with his family.  

DeMarcus Cousins, FA: Despite interest from multiple teams, Cousins reportedly plans to sit out the restart to continue his rehab from a torn ACL.

Trevor Ariza, Portland Trail Blazers: Ariza is reportedly involved in a custody case for his 12-year-old son. He decided not to participate in the NBA restart in order to be with his son during a one-month visitation period that coincided with the season schedule.

Davis Bertans, Washington Wizards: Bertans opted not to play in Florida to prevent injury before he hits free agency. Bertans is in line for a big contract and has torn his ACL twice in the past. 

John Wall, Washington Wizards: Some hoped the season's delay would mean Wall could return to the floor for a playoff run alongside Bradley Beal. Even though Wall has said he's 110% healthy, he remains focused on returning next season. 

Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets: Similar to Wall, Durant was expected to miss the entire 2019-20 season with an Achilles injury and will not return despite being afforded extra time to recover. 

Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets: Irving has stated he's against playing in Orlando amid the Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd, but he's also still recovering from a shoulder injury and is not expected to play. 

Bojan Bogdanovic, Utah Jazz: Bogdanovic underwent season-ending wrist surgery in May and will not play in Orlando, according to ESPN

LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs: Aldridge will miss out on the season restart as well thanks to season-ending shoulder surgery, per ESPN.

Kelly Oubre Jr., Phoenix Suns: Oubre suffered a meniscus injury in March and underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair his right knee.

This post will be updated as more information becomes available.

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Bradley Beal believes NBA restart could help, not distract from social justice reform

Bradley Beal believes NBA restart could help, not distract from social justice reform

Though he is undecided on whether to play in Orlando, Wizards star Bradley Beal does not believe the NBA's restart will be a distraction from the nationwide movement for social justice reform. 

Beal, whose own decision is more about his health, can see both sides, including that of Kyrie Irving and Dwight Howard who have suggested NBA players should sit out to raise awareness for racial injustice. But Beal views it differently, knowing the potential the players have to continue the conversation when the spotlight is on them.

"I feel like we stopped playing basketball because of COVID. We didn't stop playing because of social justice, and I feel like we can still raise that awareness. We can still bring attention to what's going on in the world by using our platform by utilizing the names on the back of the jerseys and doing it until people get pissed off and get tired of seeing it. That's the message in which I think we're trying to push because that's the only real change that we're gonna be able to generate," he said. 

"We have to utilize our platform as athletes to speak out for those who are unheard, to be vocal, to show face, to be involved. I think we're able to do both, but I get it from both sides of those who think it's a distraction. I don't think it is. But I can see how it's portrayed that way during this time."

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Beal noted how his own financial situation and established platform put him in a different spot than other players who haven't achieved those things. He can forego the prorated salary if he doesn't play and still be well off. And as a two-time All-Star, he already has a name for himself and the ability to use that platform for change.

Other, less-accomplished players, however, can't yet say the same. 

"I get it from the standpoint from a guy who doesn't make a lot of money who may need this. I get it from the guys who want to utilize this money to give back to their communities [and help their families]. I [also] look at it from the standpoint of the guys who just want to focus on straight social justice," Beal said.

RELATED: BEAL UNDECIDED ON PLAYING IN RESTART

Beal also said he "fully" understands the decision made by Mystics guard Natasha Cloud to sit out. Cloud and Beal are friends and have worked together to write statements and organize events between their teams for social justice awareness. The Wizards and Mystics marched together on Juneteenth last month and before they started walking, Beal and Cloud addressed the crowd.

Cloud has opted out of the 2020 WNBA season due to focus on social justice reform.

"It's a tough time we're in," he said.

Beal indicated that whether he plays or not, he will be active in helping his fellow NBA players and the league continue to get the message out. He mentioned both Washington, D.C. and his hometown of St. Louis, MO, with plans to interact with local officials and lawmakers to express his beliefs on the matter.

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