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D.C. Mayor grants exception to allow Wizards to hold team practices

D.C. Mayor grants exception to allow Wizards to hold team practices

With the nation’s capital entering Phase 2 of reopening on Monday, Mayor Muriel Bowser has given both the Washington Wizards and D.C. United waivers to hold team practices at their respective facilities. 

As the sports world continues to move closer to live-game play, these considerations allow each team the maximum amount of time to prepare for a return to play while simultaneously acting in accordance with the DC government’s COVID-19 health standards delineated in the Mayor’s June 19th Order.

The Wizards will be following the NBA’s health and safety protocol and are slated to return to play at the end of July in Orlando, Florida in what has been affectionately named the NBA’s ‘Bubble.’ Power Forward Davis Bertans has opted to not participate in the remainder of the Wizard’s season due to contract concerns, but in doing so leaves the Wizards limited time to find a potential replacement before play resumes.

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DC United has already had one unnamed player test positive for COVID-19, the team announced earlier this month. The positive case resulted following a round of mandatory testing administered to players as those tests are part of the protocol in advance of a return to full team training. According to reports, the player experienced mild symptoms and was not hospitalized. 

RELATED: DAVIS BERTANS OPTS OUT OF ORLANDO RESTART

Since the first reported positive case, neither team has reported any positive results for COVID-19 in any additional players, front office personnel, or training staff. DC United is set to begin play July 8th in the MLS Tournament and the Wizards are set to commence play on July 30th.

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Moe Wagner had to get creative to train during quarantine with a hoop in his driveway

Moe Wagner had to get creative to train during quarantine with a hoop in his driveway

Playing basketball in your driveway, that is relatable. Doing so to prepare for NBA games while in the middle of a league shutdown due to a worldwide pandemic; well, that is unusual.

But for Wizards center Moe Wagner, training during quarantine required some creativity before the team reopened their practice facility in early June. First, he rented out the townhouse below his to set up a workout space. It was vacant, allowing Wagner to use training equipment with enough space for a 7-footer to move around.

"We set up a little gym," Wagner said.

Wagner's schedule was regimented by Zoom workouts hosted by the Wizards trainers and coaching staff. But eventually, that wasn't enough.

Wagner had his brother, Franz, with him. Franz plays for the University of Michigan, where Wagner starred before becoming a first round draft pick in 2018.

"Eventually my brother and I got a little eager to shoot a ball, so my agent had us sent a basketball hoop for outside which we built. It took us like three days," Wagner explained.

"We played a little bit in the garage in the middle of the city. It was kind of an absurd situation, but you will take what you can get, I guess."

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The garage Wagner and his brother played in was without a roof. They are common in Washington, D.C., especially in Northeast. So, it was technically a garage but more like a walled off driveway.

"[We] set it up in my back alley. Every time a car drives by, you have to wait. Obviously, it's very old school. You're going back to the roots a little bit. But after six weeks of not touching a ball, you're like 'we've gotta do something, man.' I'm a professional basketball player and I haven't touched a basketball in six weeks. That ain't right," Wagner said.

RELATED: WIZARDS WILL FACE LAKERS, CLIPPERS IN SCRIMMAGES

Waiting when cars drive by makes sense. Driveways are big enough for kids to shoot around in. But Wagner requires a bit more range to spread out and practice NBA threes.

Wagner indicated he did not shoot a ball for roughly six weeks. That would mean he set the hoop up around the end of April. If that is the case, he was likely more fortunate than many other young players who went longer without being able to shoot.

That's the big variable with the league's hiatus; who had the resources to train, either to just stay sharp or potentially even improve. Wagner was able to keep working on his game, it just took a good deal of creativity. 

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Wizards will face Lakers, Clippers in Orlando's NBA exhibition schedule

Wizards will face Lakers, Clippers in Orlando's NBA exhibition schedule

Before the Wizards begin their eight-game schedule to close out the regular season on July 31, they will have three exhibition games to get warmed up in Orlando.

They will start July 22 against the Denver Nuggets and also play the Lakers and Clippers. Those are the three top seeds in the Western Conference.

Here is a look at their three-game set:

7/22: Nuggets, 3:30 pm ET
7/25: Clippers, 8 pm ET
7/27: Lakers, 3 pm ET

The question here, of course, is whether the stars will play given these games won't count. In a usual preseason, the answer would probably be 'no.' But in this case, with each team only having three games to find their rhythm before games start, and after months off, it is anyone's guess.

RELATED: NO OLADIPO FOR PACERS IN ORLANDO

It wouldn't be surprising if the Wizards did see some combination of Nikola Jokic, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The biggest question mark would be that Lakers game since it is the last exhibition game for both teams. Maybe James and/or Davis sit with two games already under their belt and an opening night meeting with the Clippers awaiting.

Either way, the Wizards will get a look at some of the NBA's best teams before they kick things off for real. And this also means they will be playing games nine days ahead of their regular season. There are now just under three weeks to go until the Wizards return to the court.

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