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Could Wizards' 2015 second-round pick Aaron White finally be arriving in the NBA?

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Could Wizards' 2015 second-round pick Aaron White finally be arriving in the NBA?

The time for Aaron White joining the Washington Wizards might be finally upon us.

The key word is might, but the path is more apparent than ever since the Wizards selected the 6-foot-8 forward 49th overall in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Buzz of White, Washington’s 2015 second-round selection, joining the Wizards surfaced in April based on sources to NBC Sports Washington at the time. Problem: The Wizards did not have a general manager to make such a call. They still do not, though Tommy Sheppard continues serving as the interim leader of Washington’s front office.

Now that the University of Iowa product completed his fourth professional season overseas, noise from across the pond about an NBA appearance surfaced.

The idea of White, 26, coming stateside is not new. He spent the last two seasons for the Lithuanian based squad Zalgiris Kaunas. The 6-foot-8 forward expressed interest in signing last off-season with the Wizards, who still maintain his rights. White actually joined the team in Las Vegas last July to chat and watch Washington’s Summer League entry.

However, the Wizards effectively filled their roster around that time by signing Jeff Green and Dwight Howard. White returned overseas and helped lead Zalgiris to a Lithuanian league title over the weekend and a Final Eight appearance in the prestigious EuroLeague after reaching the Final Four in 2018.

This time the decision is a bit more in White’s hands. The Wizards certainly have the roster space, need for rotation pieces, and according to sources, interest. More than half of the 2018-19 roster is entering some form of free agency this summer. None of the players under contract for next season play forward (Washington is not expected to pick up Jabari Parker’s $20 million team option).

The Wizards own the ninth pick in the June 20 NBA Draft but are without a second-round selection.

It remains possible that White receives a contract offer from an international team that tops one financially speaking from the Wizards. White and his representatives are expected to explore such options before the Wizards can make the forward a formal offer. The timing also allows White's side to see how the Wizards fill their front office vacancy and whether that decision alters thinking toward adding the forward for the upcoming season.

White addressed the scenario Tuesday via his Twitter account:

“Every day a new story,” White tweeted, adding the image of a facepalm emoji to express a level of frustration. “Let’s just let free agency play out and I will decide what is best for my family and me.”

White scored 13 points in the series-clinching win for Zalgiris over the weekend. In 34 EuroLeague games this season, he averaged 8.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in 24 minutes per game.

If he joins the NBA, White would become only the second player drafted by the Wizards to play for them since 2012 selection Tomas Satoransky.

Washington selected guard Ussaf Sanon 44th overall last year. The 19-year-old Ukraine guard played professionally in Slovenia this past season.

White’s general skill set, including an impressive vertical leap, is that of a stretch-4, though his 3-point shooting percentage in EuroLeague dropped from 39 to 33 over the past two seasons.

Last summer he told the reporter, then with The Sports Capitol, “I feel like I needed all three years (overseas). Every year was a different situation. They asked me to do different things. I feel like I got some experience under my belt. I’m more used to the pro game. Obviously it’s (not the NBA), but still playing professional (basketball). I felt great after my third year and ready to explore some options.”

Exploring options remains the play after his fourth year with the Wizards’ in the mix.


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Mark Jackson thinks Wizards should retool like the Clippers, not tank or trade Bradley Beal

Mark Jackson thinks Wizards should retool like the Clippers, not tank or trade Bradley Beal

The Washington Wizards have flipped their roster this offseason, to the point where they are one or two moves away from what could be considered a significant rebuild. Those two moves would be trading Bradley Beal and John Wall.

The team has no plans to do the former and probably can't do the latter due to Wall's injury and contract. But the point at which they arrived has sparked some debate about whether the Wizards should go all in and blow it up completely.

Count ESPN's Mark Jackson among those who believes the Wizards should not completely tank. The NBA Finals broadaster and longtime star point guard thinks there is a model to follow that equals a reset but also keeps Beal, in particular, in the mix.

"The Clippers," Jackson said. "They didn't tear it down, but competed until the point where they added pieces to where it gave them a real chance. I think that's the avenue to take."

The Clippers have dominated headlines recently after signing Kawhi Leonard and trading for Paul George, a pair of moves that have installed them as title contenders. But Jackson was speaking more about the steps they took the previous year. They traded off many of their pieces, but did not fully rebuild. And they did it all while keeping their veteran head coach.

"They didn't sell all the way out. They were relevant and competed and they gained valuable experience as they got to the point where they are a championship contender," Jackson said.

"You lose Blake Griffin, you lose DeAndre Jordan and you lose Chris Paul; everybody says that's a teardown, but they defended, they competed at a high level and they were pros. They were high character guys. Good things happened until now where they have a real chance to win it all."

The Clippers took a step back when they traded Paul before the 2017-18 season, but not a major step back. They went from 51 to 42 wins. After trading Griffin and letting Jordan go in free agency, they took a step forward and improved to 48 wins this past season.

L.A. maintained a winning culture while shifting gears. It is worth noting the two biggest winners in 2019 free agency - them and the Brooklyn Nets - were not tanking teams starting from scratch.

There are plenty of differences between where the Wizards are now and where the Clippers were when they began their reset, of course. L.A. had more talent to deal from and got more back in some of the trades they made. 

They got a lot for Griffin and then Tobias Harris when they traded him to the Sixers. The Wizards have little to show for the deals they made involving Otto Porter Jr., Kelly Oubre Jr. and Markieff Morris. There is also the obstacle of Wall's injury and contract, which complicates things further.

But, as Jackson notes, the Wizards are on a different playing field. They don't have to compete in the gauntlet that is the Western Conference.

"The fortunate thing for them is that they're in the Eastern Conference. They have a home run hitter in Bradley Beal who is finally getting the recognition he deserves," he said.

"Ultimately, it's about getting John back healthy and allowing these young players to grown and develop and continue to add pieces that can play a role. I think the future is bright for them."


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Still winless without Elena Delle Donne, Mystics fall to league-leading Aces

Still winless without Elena Delle Donne, Mystics fall to league-leading Aces

WASHINGTON – When Elena Delle Donne is on the court the Washington Mystics are one of the best teams in the WNBA. When she doesn’t play, the Mystics look lost and struggle to keep the contests close. Unfortunately for Washington, they were without the former WNBA MVP on Saturday, yielding an 85-81 loss to the Las Vegas Aces.  

With the absence of Delle Donne because of a broken nose, the Aces (11-5) pounded the paint in a game between the league’s two best teams. Forty-four points came in the paint for the Aces, compared to the Mystics’ 30, a far contrast from Washington's style of basketball.

Recent All-Star selections A’ja Wilson (17 points) and Liz Cambage (13 points) commanded the lanes on both the offensive and defensive ends. Combined with forward Kayla McBride, those three scored 46 of the team’s 85 points. Las Vegas also added 21 points from the charity stripe, preventing the game from becoming a barnburner in front of a sellout crowd of 4,200. 

Paired with Sydney Colson’s 17 off the Las Vegas bench, the Aces methodically erased a 15-point deficit the Mystics (9-6) built in the first quarter. 

In fact, the best part of the night for the Mystics was right after everything went wrong on their home court at the Entertainment and Sports Arena. A clock malfunction delayed the start of the contest by 20 minutes. It was yet another crazy quirk of the history of these two teams. 

Once the game got underway the Mystics came out firing. Flying up and down the court, Washington did not let the stoppage deter their success. The Aces were not so lucky and started the game 1-for-9 from the field and eventually found themselves down 22-7. 

“[It’s] always something with Vegas. Oh my God. We can’t ever just play a normal game with Vegas,” Natasha Cloud told reporters postgame. “For us as professional athletes, it is hard to sit there and be waiting, but you know we all focus. We all do different things … I like to dance to stay loose and not get tight.”

All five starters for the Mystics reached double figures without Delle Donne. Replacing the All-Star captain was Emma Meesseman who just finished playing with the Belgian National Team at the EuroBasket tournament. It is the second time the 6-4 forward started for an injured Delle Donne this season. Meesseman had 15 points and Cloud led all scorers with 18 points. 

Without Delle Donne, the Mystics are 0-3 this season. Essentially 0-4 because she only played one minute in the loss to the Los Angeles Sparks. Saturday was the second straight game that she had missed. 

Since she joined the team in 2017, the Mystics are 6-11 without her and 49-31 when she plays. 

“We’re being held kind of together by baling wire right now,” head coach Mike Thibault said postgame.

Combined with Delle Donne’s injury, Meesseman was sick and Latoya Sanders and Tianna Hawkins both played through minor injuries. It does not make things any easier when they are playing their four games in nine days with two of those being on the West Coast. 

With the loss, Washington has now lost a season-high three games in a row. At home, they’ve lost three of their last four. Fortunately, they get a chance to rest and heal some of those nagging injuries. They get six days off for only the second time in the first half of the season before playing the Indiana Fever on Friday.

“Luckily, we have some time to kind of regroup," Thibault said. "Three games left before the All-Star Break. I told them, you know, ‘get the next couple of days off, get your bodies feeling better and come back in here on Tuesday and get ready for Indiana.”