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Gilbert Arenas congratulates Bradley Beal on breaking his franchise record for threes

Gilbert Arenas congratulates Bradley Beal on breaking his franchise record for threes

Bradley Beal sank his 869th three pointer as a Wizard Saturday night, breaking the franchise record previously held by Gilbert Arenas

Arenas congratulated Beal on the accomplishment in a text to NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller.

“What’s the playbook for when someone breaks your record? You just say 'congratulations,' right? OR do u challenge them to a shooting contest for rights? Haha," the former Washington great told Miller.

"Congrats to Bradley on the record — you’re a great shooter and a great player. Enjoy your night, brother.”

Beal was also effusive in his praise of Arenas, saying what Agent Zero did on the court was "untouchable," and how part of him wishes he could have played with Arenas.

It was classy move from Arenas, who could have just as easily not have acknowledged Beal broke his record. 

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G-Leaguer Jordan McRae who dropped 54 points could be a roster addition for Wizards

G-Leaguer Jordan McRae who dropped 54 points could be a roster addition for Wizards

Time is nearly up for the Washington Wizards to replace Ron Baker on the active roster.

Jordan McRae made his strongest push yet for the gig.

McRae, one of the Wizards’ two-way contract players, scored 54 points for Capital City Friday night in the Go-Go’s 118-107 win over the Main Red Claws. That’s the most points scored by any G-League player this season.

Makes sense this wing guard holds the distinction. McRae leads the league in scoring with 29.5 points per game.

Finding such opportunities with Washington this season has not come as easy. McRae, a 27-year-old with prior NBA experience, scored only four points in 35 minutes over eight games for the 19-26 Wizards this season.

While shuttling back and forth between the two levels since Baker’s release on Jan. 7, the 6-foot-5 guard’s lone appearance came in the final minutes of a 17-point win over Philadelphia on Jan. 9.

For now, McRae and Devin Robinson, Washington’s other two-way contract player, offer in-case-of-emergency depth. Robinson traveled with the Wizards to London for Thursday’s win over the New York Knicks but did not play.

Someone else will join the roster soon.

League rules mandate a minimum of 14 players. Teams have two weeks to reach that number should they drop below. Washington, which kept its 15th slot open all season, did upon releasing Baker.

The Wizards could and likely will fill the void by signing a free agent to a 10-day contract. Another body would not hurt.

John Wall (heel surgery) is out for the season. Uncertain recovery timelines exist for forward Markieff Morris (neck) and center Dwight Howard (back surgery).

McRae is not an option for the 10-day scenario, but he has shown a readiness with the scorching Go-Go. Capital City has won seven of its last eight games.

“He’s done a great job staying with his development on and off the court,” Go-Go coach Jarell Christian said of McRae. “He’s our leader. For him to continue to play the right way, everyone else just falls in line.”

McRae’s scoring surge comes after he sat out last season with a shoulder injury.

“It was the first time in my life being injured. Being out for a whole year, it was tough for me,” McRae said. “Being with these guys every day, going back and forth with the Wizards, it’s tiring, but its fun. It’s my job.”

Christian offered advice on the key for McRae should the Wizards eventually turn McRae’s contract from a two-way to an NBA deal and set him loose on the court.

“I think it’s just about his mentality. When he's thrown into a game on the next level, still being able to function without getting the ball every possession. Being a floor spacer and continue to play defense,” Christian said. “He’s taken initiatives in some games and become the best defender on the team. I think every team wants somebody who wants to take that initiative and become a lockdown defender.”

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Trade or hold? Wizards facing tough decisions with Otto Porter, John Wall, Bradley Beal as trade deadline looms

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Trade or hold? Wizards facing tough decisions with Otto Porter, John Wall, Bradley Beal as trade deadline looms

The Washington Wizards are Eastern Conference contenders if they maximize the talents of their three max contract players, John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter.

Whether that’s possible when Wall returns from his season-ending heel surgery is among the biggest questions for the organization going forward.

Despite some true highs during the trio’s six seasons together, that’s a height never quite reached.

Time may be running out. Washington is over the 2019-20 salary cap with only five players under contract including that highly compensated triumvirate. These challenges for a team with a contender mindset are why a running narrative involves trading at least of the three.

So who should the Wizards consider a trade for? We broke down the arguments for each of the big three.

Bradley Beal (5-year, $127 million contract expires in 2021)

Reason to move: Unless he demands a trade, there should be a hard stop on the idea of dealing Washington’s leading scorer even with the allure of young talent and draft picks in return.

“How do you ever get a player better than Brad if you trade Brad? If I'm them I'm looking at this like I'm trying to get Brad something to win with rather than I'm going to use him as a carrot,” one former NBA general manager told NBC Sports Washington.

Reason to hold: Beal is on pace to set career-highs in scoring (24.8), rebounding (5.0) and assists (5.0), His numbers went next level over the past 10 games. The guard likely receives All-Star recognition for a second consecutive year. Making an All-NBA team for the first time seems possible.

At 25, Beal remains an ascending talent with leadership skills and a clear focus on carrying Washington to the postseason despite injuries elsewhere. Hold indeed.

Otto Porter (4-year, $106 million contract expires in 2021)

Reason to move: It’s become impossible to discuss Porter, 25, without the contract he signed in 2017 taking center stage. Basic stats won’t justify the amount of salary cap space. 

Washington could open needed salary cap space next season if dealing Porter means taking on expiring contracts along with picks.

Reason to hold: That contract combined with his primary statistics often leads to the forward receiving the short straw in who-must-go discussions. Based on conversations with league sources, front office members league-wide take a different view.

One former league executive told NBC Sports Washington: “The way I look at it, why not just let him earn the number he's on with you? If you get to the trade deadline and are clearly not a playoff team, I still wouldn't do anything with Otto because I think you have to look at John [Wall] as whatever he gives you in the future is gravy.”

Gauging Porter strictly on statistics completely overlooks the beauty of his subtle game. However, for the numbers crowd, note the following:

Per 36 minutes averages, Porter scores 13.2 points on 11 field goal attempts and sinks 36 percent of his 3-point tries playing with Wall. Without, 20.9 on 16.5 with a 43.4 percentage from beyond the arc while team’s net rating flips to what would be a league-leading 12.9 points per 100 possessions.

“If you trade Bradley, you get worse. If you trade Otto, you're probably just making a bad deal to get out of the money,” the former league executive said. “I'd look at Otto and Brad as the guys I got to build a winner around.” 

John Wall (4-year, $170 million starts with the 2019-20 season)

Reasons to move: There are three primary considerations: Injuries, finances, and style.

The season-ending surgery is just the latest procedure undergone by the point guard.

Wall's $37.8 million salary next season eats into a large chunk of the team’s cap space. That’s fine if he’s the 2015-16 version that earned All-NBA honors and played often. By season’s end, he will have missed 91 of 164 games over the last two seasons.

Finally, style. Don’t think better or worse, but different.

Washington’s current ball movement approach, necessary without Wall’s one-on-one skills, has sparked higher numbers from across the team. 

With Thursday’s win, Washington is 8-5 this season without Wall. Over the last two regular seasons, 28-26 without, 34-39 with. This season, based on points per 100 possessions, the Wizards are + 5.2 points better when Wall is off the court than on.

Reason to hold: League consensus deems Wall’s contract untradeable, though a team seeking a star might give a longer look next summer after striking out in free agency.

For the hopeful, here’s why that’s cool.

The modern NBA requires several All-Star level players for a chance at conference or league contention. Washington has three such players – but only if the Wizards maximize their talents.

Convincing Wall, an elite talent when healthy, to downshift at times from his ball-dominant ways might get them there. Doing so – and holding Beal and Porter -- offers the quickest path for reaching the conference finals for the first time since 1979.

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