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Dwight Howard staying back to rehab has made for interesting dynamic at Wizards practice facility

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USA TODAY Sports

Dwight Howard staying back to rehab has made for interesting dynamic at Wizards practice facility

As the Wizards left town to swing through the Western Conference on a 10-day, five-game road trip, their starting center Dwight Howard stayed behind. He needed more time to rehab his strained piriformis muscle, an injury that does not mesh well with airplane cabins and long flights.

The Wizards let Howard remain in D.C. to ease his way back. They have remained adamant about not rushing him onto the court, in hopes that once he does return he will not have any setbacks.

Howard has been working over the past week-plus with Wizards player development assistants Alex McLean and Mike Williams. McLean is a former Division I college player who spent time playing professionally overseas. He is 6-foot-8, played forward and remains in good enough basketball shape to face off with Wizards players in a practice setting.

With McLean, the Wizards can have Howard participate in contact drills. That's important with the team on the road because, although they now have a G-League affiliate practicing and playing in the same building Howard is training in, he isn't allowed to actually play with them.

League rules stipulate that NBA players can't participate in G-League practice and vice versa. That has created a tricky dynamic for both the Wizards and the Capital City Go-Go in the first year of their partnership.

Howard, who has trained in the mornings, is gone by the time the G-League players show up for practice. They may see him on his way out or in the parking lot, but the team is careful to prevent overlap.

If Howard was officially assigned to the Go-Go, he could practice with them and in doing so complete a rehab assignment, not unlike those which are common in Major League Baseball. 

"It would be awesome to get him out there and playing with us, but league rules prohibit that," Go-Go head coach Jarell Christian said.

Christian, who served as G-League assistant in the Oklahoma City Thunder organization before arriving in Washington, said rehab assignments for practice have become increasingly common. They are especially beneficial later in the season when NBA teams pare down their practice schedules to accommodate player rest.

In baseball, even MLB superstars will play in actual minor league games to regain their rhythm before returning to the majors. Nationals All-Stars Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, for instance, have served rehab stints with nearby Single-A affiliates in Woodbridge, Va. and Hagerstown, Md.

Christian, though, doesn't see that happening for the NBA anytime soon. Don't expect to see John Wall playing 10 minutes for the Go-Go one day before rejoining the Wizards.

"I think we're probably a ways away from that," Christian said.

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Report: NBA, players discuss withholding up to 25% of remaining salaries if season is canceled

Report: NBA, players discuss withholding up to 25% of remaining salaries if season is canceled

If the rest of the 2019-20 regular season is canceled, the NBA may be able to keep up to 25 percent of the salaries its players receive after April 1, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

League officials are in discussions with the National Basketball Players Association about a deal that would amend the collective bargaining agreement to give players a greater share of the financial damage inflicted by the coronavirus outbreak that’s put the current season on hold.

Wojnarowski writes that while the NBA has “no plans to announce the cancellation of games in the immediate future,” it’s preparing for all scenarios, including one in which coronavirus isn’t contained in time to salvage the regular season.

The NBA has already been withholding 10 percent of the players’ salaries with the promise of paying out the remaining 90 percent through April 1. In accordance with the CBA’s Force Majeure provision (reserved for catastrophic events), that money has been held by the NBA with a certain percentage slotted to be returned to teams at the end of the year depending on how much revenue is lost.

However, it appears the 10 percent cut has not been sufficient for softening the blow dealt by the season’s suspension. Per Wojnarowski, Commissioner Adam Silver and about 100 top league officials have already agreed to 20 percent pay cut. With team owners handling their own financial ramifications, the league is hoping for its players to help alleviate that burden and prevent the NBA from having to recoup additional percentages from the players after the season.

The purpose of the Force Majeure is to prevent the salary cap and luxury tax from taking a nosedive next season and beyond. By recouping additional salary, teams would be in better standing for spending relatively close to what they’ve done the past few years.

If the two sides don’t come to an agreement, players could owe back portions of their salaries at the end of the season. In an effort to avoid seizing past salaries, the league is asking the NBPA to agree to a deal while working on a plan to help players budget their spending based on reduced incomes.

As much as the NBA would like to resume its regular season in some fashion, the coronavirus pandemic has entirely changed the outlook—both logistically and financially—of professional sports in 2020 for the worst. Everything the league does now is just part of an effort to limit the damage as best it can.

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Rui Hachimura to take on Donovan Mitchell in first-ever NBA 2K Players Tournament

Rui Hachimura to take on Donovan Mitchell in first-ever NBA 2K Players Tournament

NBA fans will get a chance to watch some of their favorite players go head-to-head once again, just not in the setting we're used to. 

With the regular season under suspension, the NBA announced the first-ever NBA 2K Players Tournament, featuring 16 players who will play each other in NBA 2K20 for $100,000 donated to coronavirus support efforts. 

The tournament will begin on April 3 on ESPN and will include the following players seeded 1-through-16 based first on their 2K rating and second on their seniority in the league:

1. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets (96)
2. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks (90)
3. Hassan Whiteside, Portland Trail Blazers (87)
4. Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz (87)
5. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns (86)
6. Andre Drummond, Cleveland Cavaliers (85)
7. Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls (85)
8. Montrezl Harrell, LA Clippers (85)
9. Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers (85)
10. Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns (85)
11. DeMarcus Cousins (81)
12. Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets (81)
13. Rui Hachimura, Washington Wizards (79)
14. Patrick Beverley, LA Clippers (78)
15. Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings (78)
16. Derrick Jones Jr., Miami Heat (78)

Each player will choose eight current NBA teams to use before the tournament starts, though they can only use each of their selections once. The first two rounds are single elimination, while the semifinals and finals will be best of three. 

Wizards standout rookie Rui Hachimura enters the tournament as the No. 13 seed and will begin the tournament against Utah's All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell Friday. Mitchell may have a higher 2K rating and status in the league, but there's no telling where either player's 2K skills stand. 

Hachimura could very well take Mitchell down and set up a showdown with the winner of Andre Drummond vs. DeMarcus Cousins. 

The first round will begin Friday and run through the weekend, with the second round airing next Tuesday and the semifinals and finals wrapping up the tournament on Saturday, April 11. 

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