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Dwight Howard trade a step toward resetting Wizards' culture

Dwight Howard trade a step toward resetting Wizards' culture

The Wizards are attempting to change the culture of their organization and few things symbolize that better these days than trading Dwight Howard.

By now, he is used to it. This is the third straight time a new front office architect has promptly traded Howard soon after taking over their post. It happened to him in Atlanta, then Charlotte and now Washington with Tommy Sheppard, who is currently running the Wizards with an interim tag.

The Wizards shipped Howard to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday for veteran forward C.J. Miles. It was yet another move that signals the Wizards are undergoing a significant makeover, one that is showing all the signs of a franchise rebuild.

Howard could have helped them this upcoming season, at least in theory. They need rebounding and defense and those are his two best selling points. Even coming off a back injury, he could have been of use.

But now Howard exits after playing only nine games with the Wizards. They are tearing their roster down to the studs and Howard makes that process nearly complete.

The Wizards now have a team headlined by John Wall and Bradley Beal that is flush with young players and veterans on short-term contracts. They have financial flexibility moving forward and cheap players with upside.

The roster has been overhauled and it's notable that Sheppard remains in charge. Owner Ted Leonsis continues to let Sheppard guide the Wizards through the meat of the offseason while he is conducting a search that could lead to his replacement.

At this point, given all he has already done this offseason, it seems like Sheppard is either going to be given the job long-term, or he's being tasked with cleaning the slate for someone else to take over. The latter would be an unusual route to take.

Regardless, the direction of the franchise is becoming clear. The Wizards are favoring their long-term outlook over competing next season. They appear to see Wall's injury as reason to take a step back in hopes of taking two steps forward.

By getting Howard out of town, they will pave the way for Thomas Bryant to start. He re-signed this week on a three-year deal. At 21 years old, he is the future and will have a good opportunity to develop.

All of this, though, makes one piece of news from this week even more interesting. The Washington Post reported the Wizards have spoken to free agent DeMarcus Cousins. It was described as a casual conversation, but quickly ignited Wizards fans who have long called for the team to sign him.

Signing Cousins would flip much of what the Wizards have done in recent weeks on its head. He is someone who would make them better in the short-term, get in the way of Bryant's development and raise questions about their culture. Though he was by all accounts on good behavior in Golden State, he has a reputation for contributing to locker room dysfunction, fair or not.

The Wizards had been trying to move on from Howard for weeks. On Friday, they made it happen.

Their goals this offseason are becoming increasingly obvious. But will they stay the course?

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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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Drew Gooden will answer questions in a special-edition mailbag

Drew Gooden will answer questions in a special-edition mailbag

Retired NBA player and current NBC Sports Washington analyst Drew Gooden is taking your questions.

To ask Drew a question about the NBA, Wizards, his career or anything else (within reason of course), please email drewgoodenmailbag@gmail.com. 

Drew will pick a handful of questions to respond to in this special-edition NBA on hiatus mailbag.