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How the Wizards' new GM could shape the organization's future this summer

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How the Wizards' new GM could shape the organization's future this summer

With the 2018-19 season in the rearview for the Washington Wizards, we at NBC Sports Washington are analyzing the five biggest questions of what should be the most consequential offseason they have had in years...

NO. 2: HOW WILL THE NEW GM PUT THEIR STAMP ON THE ORGANIZATION?

Predicting which direction the Wizards will go this offseason when it comes to trades and free agency is a pointless exercise right now, as nothing can be projected until we know who will be in charge of the front office. Owner Ted Leonsis, with help from consultant Mike Forde, is still in the evaluation process of his organization, top-to-bottom. They have yet to begin interviewing candidates to replace dismissed team president Ernie Grunfeld.

Once Leonsis makes that hire, the future will become a little more clear, though any new GM may take time to truly make their mark. The Wizards have limited financial flexibility and only one draft pick. It may be a year or two before the roster truly feels like theirs.

That said, by the end of this summer, we should know plenty about what makes the new team architect tick. They will explain their philosophy at an introductory press conference and demonstrate it in decisions they make. 

The most telling in the short-term will be how they handle the large group of players set to hit free agency. That list includes Trevor Ariza, Tomas Satoransky, Bobby Portis, Thomas Bryant, Jeff Green, Sam Dekker and Chasson Randle. There is also Jabari Parker, who has a $20 million team option for 2019-20 that is a lock to be declined, no matter who takes over.

If the Wizards move forward with interim GM Tommy Sheppard, who was Grunfeld's No. 2, that likely means Satoransky and Bryant are coming back. They are both restricted free agents and Sheppard was integral in acquiring them. 

He scouted Satoransky as a teenager and helped convince him to leave Europe for the NBA. He had a first round grade on Bryant when he came out of Indiana in the 2017 draft and took a strong stance in favor of claiming him as soon as the Lakers put him on waivers last summer.

Sheppard staying in place could also increase the likelihood Ariza, Parker and Portis return, though any of those three would have to be for the right price. A new GM could conceivably want to clear those players out and bring in his own guys.

Also telling will be how the new front office handles Bradley Beal's contract in the event he makes All-NBA and qualifies for a supermax. It projects to be worth about $194 million over four years, a ton of money to commit with John Wall already signed to a supermax that begins next season. If it comes to that, perhaps the new GM will determine a trade is the best course of action, to turn one player into multiple assets and rebuild for the future.

Also on the docket will be Ian Mahinmi's contract. The Wizards can either ride out the final year of his deal and shed $15.5 million off the books next summer, or use the stretch provision to spread that money out over the next three seasons and free up about $10.3 million more to work with this summer.

A major decision for the new GM will be the Wizards' first round pick this June. They have the sixth-best lottery odds and will know their selection on May 14. If they get lucky and land the No. 1 pick, there will be no mystery, as Zion Williamson is the clear-cut star of this class. But any other pick will require a difficult decision, including whether to draft a point guard with Wall under contract for the next four years.

If the Wizards do not find lottery luck and vault into the top four, it would probably be smart to trade back. They have a dearth of draft assets and a new GM will likely want more of them. This year's draft class doesn't appear to be a deep one. Trading back from eighth, for example, to pick up an extra first or a pair of second rounders might be the move to make.

There are other ways the new GM can shape the organization's philosophy, ones that will be less noticeable to the public. They could either invest more or differently in analytics, for example. 

Though they have a fairly robust operation led by VP of basketball analytics Brett Greenberg, a sharp, young Duke grad who may someday be a GM himself, and though they also use outside consultants, there are other teams (like the Sixers) that employ more people with that focus.

Also, Greenberg oversees salary cap management as well. Perhaps a new GM has expertise in that realm or adds staff with those duties.

Speaking of staff decisions, there will also be one made about head coach Scott Brooks. His status is currently in limbo.

Even with little resources to overhaul the Wizards' roster in a major way this summer, the franchise is about to undergo significant long-term change. The next few months will give everyone the first major signs of what is up ahead.

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Report: Steph Curry will return from hand surgery against Wizards

Report: Steph Curry will return from hand surgery against Wizards

Steph Curry will return to game action when the Golden State Warriors host the Wizards on Sunday night, The Athletic reported Tuesday. The game will come almost four months to the day after Curry broke his left hand during a collision with Phoenix Suns center Aron Baynes on Oct. 30.

The Warriors (12-14) enter play Tuesday with the worst record in the NBA having played most of the season without Curry or shooting guard Klay Thompson, who tore his ACL during the NBA Finals last summer.

Curry was cleared for contact Saturday and told reporters that March 1 had been his target date for a while.

"It's always been March 1," Curry said, per ESPN's Nick Friedell. "But that for me mostly is just to give you a target. You have to have something to work towards in the rehab process because that gives you a barometer for each week, what you're building towards."

The Wizards are hoping for the healthy returns of Davis Bertans (sore right knee) and Thomas Bryant (right foot) to the lineup against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday and will presumably go into Sunday’s contest with a clean injury report outside John Wall.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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Wizards vs. Nets: time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

Wizards vs. Nets: time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

The Wizards enter Wednesday's matchup with the Nets having lost three straight games since the All-Star break, but not all losses are created equal.

First, they fell at home to the struggling Cavaliers, followed by a road loss to the also-struggling Bulls. Then, they took the Bucks, the best team in basketball, to overtime in a thrilling 137-134 loss Monday night.

The real story, though, is the recent play of Bradley Beal. The Wizards' star has scored at least 25 points in 15 straight games, the second-longest streak in team history. 

More importantly, he dropped 53 and 55 points in back-to-back nights Sunday and Monday. He's the first NBA player to reach 50 points in back-to-back losses in more than 50 years, and he has the most combined points in back-to-back games in franchise history.

The biggest question Wednesday night will be what he has in store for a follow up. Here is everything you need to know.

WIZARDS vs. NETS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards vs. Brooklyn Nets

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington D.C.

When: Wednesday, February 26, 2020, at 7:00 p.m.

TV Channel: Wizards vs. Nets will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards vs. Nets on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the MyTeams App.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS vs. NETS TV SCHEDULE

6:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders

6:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live

7:00 PM: Wizards vs. Nets

9:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live

10:00 PM: DC Sports Live

10:30 PM: Wizards Talk

WIZARDS vs. NETS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Bradley Beal, Wizards (30.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 6.0 APG): Beal has scored 53 and 55 points in his last two games, the first player in franchise history to score at least 50 in back-to-back nights. What will he do for an encore?

Spencer Dinwiddie, Nets (20.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 6.7 APG):  With Kyrie Irving out for the season, Dinwiddie is the Nets' leading scorer and assist man. He will be charged with going toe-to-toe with the scorching hot Beal.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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