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Final month gives time for Wizards, Bobby Portis to evaluate their fit for the future

Final month gives time for Wizards, Bobby Portis to evaluate their fit for the future

Bobby Portis has been with the Wizards for about a month after joining them in a Feb. 6 trade, and of the nine games he's played for Washington, six were on the road. That has left about eight or so days for him to spend in his new city, to get acclimated to his new surroundings.

He is also still trying to learn everybody's name. He has his teammates down. But beyond them, there are some gaps.

"That's tough, man," he told NBC Sports Washington. "I know some of the coaches' names, but I just say 'coach,' just so I don't get the names mixed up. But that's [also tough]. If I say just 'coach,' then everybody puts their head up."

Portis and the Wizards are in an interesting spot as far as their potential future together goes. The Wizards made a collection of trades in early February to free up salary cap room. They got under the luxury tax and set themselves up to have money to spend this summer.

Portis, 23, is a restricted free agent. The Wizards could choose to retain him, either by working out a new contract or by matching an offer from another team. Or, they could let him go and use the money elsewhere.

Though Portis could be limited by restricted free agency, he will enter the offseason with some freedom to choose where he wants to play for the first time in his career.

The final stretch of this season is essentially a trial period for both sides. If it works, maybe the Wizards keep Portis. If it doesn't, the two sides will move on.

For Portis, the match has been good so far.

"Everything is pretty good, man. I like being a Wizard. I love being here," he said. "I think this is a good fit for me through and through."

Portis has been impressed so far with the training staff and the nutrition program, in particular. As far as basketball goes, it's still very early.

Portis has had some good moments through nine games. He's averaging 15.3 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.1 steals while shooting 43.2 percent from three. Three times already he has topped 20 points and five times he has reached double digits in rebounds.

He has mostly played well, but the Wizards can't exactly pencil him in beyond this season. They also have Thomas Bryant set to enter restricted free agency and it doesn't seem likely they will keep both of them. They haven't shared the court much due to redundancies in their game and the Wizards will only have so much money to spend this summer.

The Wizards, though, may have reasons to keep Portis, depending on the price. For one, they gave up a lot to get him by trading Otto Porter Jr. They also got Jabari Parker in the deal, but seem likely to opt out of his contract for 2019-20. Keeping Portis would give them value for Porter beyond just a third of one season.

Also, even if the Wizards clear a bunch of money by renouncing free agents and opting out of Parker's deal, there is no guarantee they could sign the top players available. Portis is probably in the tier of players they would be able to sign. He's a realistic target, is young and could present intriguing upside at a position of need.

Ultimately, the money will be important for Portis, who will be seeking his first non-rookie contract. But he does prefer a big market after playing in Chicago and now Washington.

"I was a small town guy growing up, but now I think I'm a big city guy. It's kind of hard to go from Chicago or Washington something much smaller than these two," he said. "I love the big city. There's always a lot of things to do. I don't really like being home like I used to. I don't watch TV."

The Wizards and Portis may prove a match beyond this season, or not. The next month will help both sides figure it out.


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Davis Bertans reinforces status as Wizards' best offseason addition in win over 76ers

Davis Bertans reinforces status as Wizards' best offseason addition in win over 76ers

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards beat the Philadelphia 76ers 119-113 on Thursday night at Capital One Arena. Here are five takeaways from what went down...

1. The Wizards entered this season with the understanding they probably wouldn't make the playoffs. They wanted to play hard and be a team capable of pulling off upsets on nights their effort and scrappy play caught opponents off guard.

They wanted to have games like they had on Thursday night. For the first time this season, the Wizards jumped all over a very good team and held on for a victory.

The Wizards took out the Sixers 119-113 for what is so far their signature win of the season. Philly is one of the best teams in the East at 15-7 and it was mostly healthy, unlike the Wizards.

Washington snapped a three-game skid as it now flies to Miami for battle with the Heat, who may be the surprise team of the NBA so far this season with a 15-6 record.

2. Though it's not showing in the standings, the Wizards did a nice job in the offseason in flipping their roster and creating long-term financial flexibility. Their most impressive move may have been trading for Davis Bertans.

Bertans was essentially stolen from the San Antonio Spurs for Aaron White, who was likely to never play for the Wizards. And all Bertans has done is thrive in an expanded role with the green light to shoot as often as he wants.

Bertans was lights-out on Thursday with 25 points on 9-for-16 shooting. He set a career high with seven threes, going 7-for-13 from the perimeter. Bertans had 20 points and was 6-for-6 from three in the first half, tying his previous career high for makes.

As I've mentioned before, Bertans is going to be a commodity come the trade deadline and that is going to force a tough decision for the Wizards, whether to trade him or keep him and try to work out an extension in the offseason. If they are offered a first-round pick, it will be hard to pass up.

But there is an argument either way to hold on to him because he is such a good shooter. Just imagine how well he would fit with John Wall.

3. Rookie Rui Hachimura also had a huge game in what was his first career meeting with the Sixers. He popped off for 15 points in the second quarter and ended up with 27 points and six boards.

Hachimura did all of this while dealing with Al Horford and Joel Embiid down low and guarding those guys on the other end. He also spent some time checking Tobias Harris, so there was a lot on his plate.

Hachimura got many of his points with his bread-and-butter midrange game. He made one three and found trouble getting around Embiid at the rim. 

Hachimura took what the defense gave him and it worked. There were several occasions where defenders just let him take long twos and he made them.

Head coach Scott Brooks was just talking pregame about why the Wizards are okay with him living in the midrange, if that's what he is most comfortable with at this point. Good timing with those comments.

Hachimura, by the way, is averaging 22 points over his last four games while shooting 54.4 percent from the field (37-for-68).

4. The Wizards shared some good news on the injury front before the game as both of their backup centers returned. Moe Wagner, who was nursing a left ankle injury, came back after missing two games. And Ian Mahinmi made his season debut after missing two-plus months with an Achilles strain.

Wagner was put in the starting lineup due to Thomas Bryant's absence and, though he did not have his usual scoring numbers, he did what he could to bother Embiid and give the Wizards energy. Wagner finished with five points and 11 rebounds.

Mahinmi played surprisingly well, all things considered. He had some bad moments, some due to rust. Be he did a solid job guarding Embiid, which is no easy task. The Wizards also helped him out with double teams.

The best part of Mahinmi's night, though, was right when he checked in. He has developed a reputation for getting in foul trouble and, sure enough, he got one on his very first play.

5. Though the Wizards got two players back from injury on Thursday, they also lost two. Jordan McRae will be out a few weeks after having a second surgery on his right ring finger. And, in a bigger surprise, starting point guard Isaiah Thomas was a late scratch with a left calf strain.

The Thomas one is a newly disclosed injury and at this point it's unclear if he will miss any more time. But it was enough for him to sit after he had played in 17 straight.


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Win of the season? Undermanned Wizards beat 76ers

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Win of the season? Undermanned Wizards beat 76ers

The Wizards pulled off their best win of the season Thursday night by defeating on of the top teams in the East in the Sixers at home. 

On the backs of a superb first half by Davis Bertans and great defense on Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, the Wizards snapped a three-game losing streak before they head to Miami. 

Here are the top moments from the game:

Bertans goes nuts from three

Davis Bertans set a career-high in three-pointers made Thursday night by hitting seven of his 13 attempts from deep. 

Six of them, however, came in the second quarter without a miss. 

Bradley Beal struggled in the game with Ben Simmons defending him, so Bertans giving the Wizards a lift helped them build a 10-point lead into the break and maintain it late into the second half. 

Chiozza with the steal, Mahinmi follows up the miss

With Isaiah Thomas out with a calf strain, the Wizards turned to two-way guard Chris Chiozza for some minutes off the bench.

He didn't score in his 11 minutes, but he provided a key steal of Joel Embiid that led to two points from Ian Mahinmi. 

Mahinmi's hustle here was not something we've much from the Wizards this season, so it's plays like these that led Washington to their best win of the season. 

Bertans misses? Wizards still get three points

As we stated already, Bertans was the star of the night shooting the ball, but the second half brought a few ugly misses from three. 

On his first shot since going 6-6 in the second quarter, Bertans fired a three off the side of the backboard. Luckily enough, Beal came up with the ball and drained a wide-open three. 

When it's your night, it's your night. 

The Wizards will look to keep the momentum going Friday night as they travel to Miami to take on Jimmy Butler and the Heat. You can watch the game at 8 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington.