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Austin Rivers compares passing styles of John Wall and Chris Paul, having played with both

Austin Rivers compares passing styles of John Wall and Chris Paul, having played with both

Getting on the practice court for the first time with the Wizards on Thursday gave shooting guard Austin Rivers an opportunity to run with All-Star point guard John Wall.

It didn't take long for Rivers to find a natural comparison to one of his former teammates.

Wall is a star at the point guard position just like Chris Paul, whom Rivers played with for three seasons while the two were with the Los Angeles Clippers. Paul, now with the Rockets, is one of only two players, including Rajon Rondo, who have averaged more assists per game than Wall has since he entered the league in 2010.

Both Wall and Paul are known as gifted passers, but they don't dish assists in the same way, says Rivers.

“John can make the quicker pass because he’s so athletic. He’s so explosive, where Chris takes his time and really probes. Chris is a prober. Chris likes to go around the pick and roll, probe, probe, probe. He likes to make the defense move, then make the pass. So you’ve got to be patient. Where John is like boom-boom! You have to be ready to go," Rivers said.

"John will fire at you 100 miles per hour if you’re not looking. They both play similar and they both are two of the elite passers in the league, but John’s more of a quicker, explosive player where Chris really uses his head to get guys open.”

Rivers said he and Wall have also played pickup games in the past, so the on-court relationship isn't entirely new. But Rivers had missed the first two days of training camp due to neck spasms.

Playing with him on Thursday gave him more perspective on what Wall is capable of.

“You realize how fast [Wall] is, but not until you play with him. He gets the rebound and you can’t be behind him. So when that ball goes up, you’ve got to run. Otherwise you’re behind the ball, you can’t make a play. If you run with him, he will hit you every time. You want to talk about getting points, extra points per game – it’s just running with John. He’s going to attract so much defense, you just got to keep up with him," Rivers said.

Rivers, who landed with the Wizards in a June trade, is set to come off their bench this season, but he may see time on the floor with Wall in three-guard lineups.

The more they play together, the more Rivers will learn about what makes him tick.

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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.

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