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John Wall braces for change, says he's okay with Wizards drafting PG

John Wall braces for change, says he's okay with Wizards drafting PG

As John Wall's career is in transition, so is the franchise he plays for. The Washington Wizards are in the midst of searching for a new general manager, one to replace Ernie Grunfeld as the team's architect.

Wall is just two months into his recovery from a ruptured left Achilles tendon. He is likely to be out until at least February 2020 and could miss all of the 2019-20 season.

But whomever the Wizards hire could make sweeping changes to the organization, ones that affect the team's course in the short- and long-term. With a four-year, supermax contract set to begin next season, Wall is paying close attention to their every move.

He met with reporters for the first time in months during halftime of the Wizards' season finale on Tuesday night and offered his thoughts on Grunfeld's departure and what could come next for the franchise.

As for Grunfeld, Wall gave thanks to the man who drafted him No. 1 overall in 2010.

"I wish him the best of luck and hope that he can get another job somewhere. I appreciate everything he's done for us and everything he did for my career," Wall said.

Wall, 28, is still unsure if he will play next year. He plans to rehab in Miami this summer but will stick around for several weeks after the season to see which direction majority owner Ted Leonsis goes with the GM position.

Wall expressed confidence in Leonsis' ability to make the right choice and believes there could be some benefits if he goes outside the organization with the hire. Wizards senior VP of basketball operations Tommy Sheppard is currently filling in as the interim GM after serving as Grunfeld's No. 2.

"Whoever we have or hire is going to be somebody that has watched us from the outside not the inside and understand what this team needs and what type of culture we need around here, what type of veterans we need and what type of leaders we need to make this team the right team," Wall said.

The Wizards could have many changes this season beyond their GM. They may have a new head coach, depending on what happens with Scott Brooks. They could also have another franchise building block by way of their first-round pick.

Where the Wizards will draft is not known yet, but there is a chance they could have a high selection. There is also a chance a point guard is the best player on the board come June. If they pick in the top four, perhaps Ja Morant of Murray State could be available.

Wall was asked about the Wizards possibly taking a point guard high in the draft. He said all of the right things, at least until the end.

"I would be fine. I would have no problem with that because it is what it is. You have to do what is best for the team. You have to make sure that we have pieces. And when I come back, he can be a great back-up to me," Wall said.

If the Wizards did draft a point guard and that player became a star or at least very good, it could present an interesting dynamic when Wall returns. 

At the end of each season, Wall is usually quick to offer thoughts on what the team needs to add in the subsequent summer. Last year, for instance, he said the Wizards should add an athletic big man. They then jettisoned Marcin Gortat and signed Dwight Howard.

This time, Wall didn't cite a specific type of player the roster is missing. But he has noticed something about their team he would like to see change.

"I think most of the years I've been here we've always had five or six guys on one-year contracts. That's always tough to deal with because those guys are fighting for their lives and fighting to make sure they keep their jobs in this league. I think you kind of want to get and sustain a core group that you know is going to be here for a while," he said.

The Wizards entered this season with the second-most expiring contracts of any team, only behind the New Orleans Pelicans. The subject was downplayed by Wizards players, including Wall, in the preseason. But, as Wall now says, it was a problem.

As Wall keeps an eye on the Wizards' moves, he remains patient in his rehab, knowing he likely has at least 10 months to go. Returning at some point next season remains the goal, but it's too early to tell if he will be able to.

"I have no idea just yet. My goal is to," he said.


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How George Floyd changed Ian Mahinmi's perspective on advocacy and fatherhood

How George Floyd changed Ian Mahinmi's perspective on advocacy and fatherhood

Over the last month, America has been having a long-overdue conversation about race, justice and equality in our society. At NBC Sports Washington, we wanted to further the dialogue by providing a forum for DMV-area sports figures who are thought leaders on these important issues.

NBC Sports Washington is launching the first part of an ongoing video series entitled Race in America this week. Ian Mahinmi, Natasha Cloud, and Mike Locksley joined Chis Miller for the first of these roundtable discussions to share their experiences, thoughts and how they’re using their platforms in this fight. To watch the full interview, click here.

Wizards center Ian Mahinmi has been familiar with the history and horrors of racism from a very early age. With a father from Benin, Africa, he was taught about slavery as a child and in graphic detail, to the point where it numbed his views on other subjects of race relations.

He explained in honest and introspective detail on 'Race in America,' a panel hosted by NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller that also featured Mystics guard Natasha Cloud and University of Maryland football coach Mike Locksley.

Here's what Mahinmi said:

"Me, I have such a different view, first because I'm African. You wouldn't believe the stuff that I've seen and that I was exposed to. My dad always showed me what was slavery at home. I have pictures. My dad always showed me everything. So, it wasn't the first time I saw something crazy like that happen," Mahinmi said, referring to the video of George Floyd being suffocated by a police officer in Minneapolis.


"It's almost like you look back and I felt a little embarrassed of myself that it took [George Floyd's] story for me to be shocked again. It's almost like I became numb to it. It's like 'I've seen this before, it's crazy but I've seen it before.' It's like okay, alright, that's it, no more. Now, I'm a grown man and I have kids. I'm going to do anything I can now, anything in my power to do my part."

That feeling of frustrated indifference is one Mahinmi wants to prevent his daughters from ever experiencing in their own lives as African-Americans in the United States.

"Is it normal that I'm numb to this? No, it's not. And I don't want it to be normal for my kids anymore, for it to be just another scene that they have seen before. The fight started a long time ago. As an African, as a Black male from Benin where slavery was at its peak, I've gotta do my part. Even though I started this fight a long time ago, I've gotta do more and I'm going to do more," he said.

"At some point, what are you going to do about it? You get to a point where now I'm 33 years old and I have three girls and I'm looking at myself in the mirror and I'm like, man, if this doesn't start with me, my kids are going to say the same [thing]. Enough is enough."

Mahinmi's thoughts were one of many powerful moments during the 'Race in America' conversation. You can watch the full panel right here:

To watch the full roundtable discussion, featuring Ian Mahinmi, Washington Mystics star Natasha Cloud, and Maryland football head coach Mike Locksley, click here.



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Report: NBA closing in on second bubble in Chicago for eight teams not invited to Orlando

Report: NBA closing in on second bubble in Chicago for eight teams not invited to Orlando

When the NBA formally announced its plan to resume the 2019-20 season with a 22-team bubble-like format in Orlando, the eight teams that weren't invited to Florida likely believed their season was over.

Or, so they thought.

The league is reportedly closing in on a second "bubble" in Chicago for the eight teams not headed to Orlando, according to ESPN's Jackie MacMullan. The second bubble would allow teams to hold a mini-camp and have the eight clubs scrimmage one another in an NBA Summer League-like format, MacMullan wrote.

The bubble would allow the non-playoff teams a chance for young players -- such as Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young and Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton -- to play in real games for the first time in months. Veteran stars, such as Warriors guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, likely wouldn't play, according to MacMullan. The reported target date for the bubble is in September.

On Thursday, seven of the eight teams not included in the Orlando restart held a conference call to discuss the idea, with the New York Knicks being the exception. On the call, teams assured the NBA they would be willing to proceed with the bubble in Chicago, according to MacMullan.


Not everyone is fully on board with the idea, however. According to ESPN, Detroit Pistons head coach Dwane Casey took an informal poll of coaches from teams not headed to Orlando, and the majority of them would prefer to hold mini-camps at their own team facilities rather than travel to a bubble in Chicago.

"The reason we want these mini-camps is to get our team together, to have that camaraderie, to improve and enjoy some competition," Casey told ESPN. "We feel we can do that safely in our own environment. We can't let these guys sit around from March 11 to December without something. It's going to hurt their careers. It's too long of a layoff."

With a target date of September, the league has the luxury to assess how the Orlando bubble works out before making a decision about the Chicago bubble. According to ESPN, several teams have requested a two-week delay period to sign off on the second bubble to assess how the initial bubble in Florida works.


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