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John Wall, Bradley Beal react to Trevor Ariza trade that sent Kelly Oubre and Austin Rivers to Suns

John Wall, Bradley Beal react to Trevor Ariza trade that sent Kelly Oubre and Austin Rivers to Suns

From the front office's perspective, the timing of the Wizards' trade for Trevor Ariza could not have been better. They secured the player they wanted as early as he could be traded, on Dec. 15.

From the players' perspective, the timing could not have been worse. They had just lost a game to the Brooklyn Nets and were in the locker room when reports began surfacing on social media. Those involved, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers, had to address reporters, not knowing where they would be moving to the coming days.

Then, as the trade saga took on new forms, they rode the bus and then on the plane with the Wizards, surrounded by those they would soon call former teammates. Their phones were buzzing with messages from people asking what was going on, when they themselves didn't know.

John Wall has seen plenty over the course of his nine NBA seasons, including Kirk Hinrich getting traded at halftime back in 2011. But he hadn't seen this.

"It was kind of weird and kind of difficult," Wall said. "[We] go into the locker room and we're about to shower and stuff and we don't understand who is about to get traded, who's been traded. It was kind of a tough situation. I give those guys a lot of credit. They handled that stuff like professionals. A lot of guys could have reacted in different ways, which I have seen in the past."

As NBA Twitter did backflips over the absurdity playing out in real time, how the deal was originally supposed to have three teams and it fell through allegedly because of a mixup over which 'Brooks' was getting traded from Memphis, the Wizards were following along, on the bus and with two parties involved sitting nearby. 

"You don't see that a lot. I feel for Kelly and Austin who were put on that trip back here and not knowing what was going on," Bradley Beal said.

Like with most trades, the players offered a mixed reaction with teammates leaving, but help also coming in. They know Ariza well from his days in Washington back in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons and believe he will bring defense and three-point shooting, two things the Wizards currently need.

There was a human element of seeing Oubre and Rivers go, though, that both Wall and Beal felt. Oubre, in particular, had become woven into the fabric of the organization over the past three-plus years. He arrived as a first round pick in 2015 and grew up in their system.

"It is kind of devastating for those guys who came in and tried to give it everything they have," Wall said. "Especially K.O., being here four years, watching him develop from his rookie year not getting any minutes and coming into his own and being an X-factor for our team the last couple of years, it's sad to see him go."

Wall continued to say he wishes both players the best with the Phoenix Suns. The Wizards happen to play Phoenix in a week, on Dec. 22 in Washington.

Ultimately, the trade served a reminder to Wall, Beal and others that the Wizards have some urgency to turn things around. They are in the luxury tax with the sixth-highest payroll in the NBA. An 11-18 record after 29 games just isn't good enough to justify the resources being committed.

Wall explained in detail how he believes money was a consideration.

"The only thing I really can think of from my standpoint is that Trevor makes $15 [million], I think. Austin made [$12.65 million] and Kelly makes [$3.21 million] this year," he said.

"It was a situation where we were in a tough bind. We have three guys that are paid pretty high. And then understanding what Kelly is going to receive or ask for this summer, I don't think we have the money to match it. So, I think that's the reason why we made that trade."

This is the third trade the Wizards have made already this season. All three deals have saved them money, but this one has the highest likelihood to make a difference on the court.

The players are optimistic Ariza can prove the missing piece.

"We needed a change," Beal said. "Hopefully this is the change that sparks some energy out of us, some life out of us, that will get us to play the way we know we're capable of playing."

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Can Michael Jordan's Hornets prevent back-to-back wins for the Wizards?

Can Michael Jordan's Hornets prevent back-to-back wins for the Wizards?

Sporting the NBA's most prolific offense and coming off their best win of the year against the Spurs, the Wizards are gunning for their first set of back-to-back wins since March of last season. 

The Wizards play the Hornets on Friday at 7 p.m. EST on NBC Sports Washington.

In order to get there, they'll have to get past one of the worst teams in the league in Michael Jordan's Hornets. Charlotte is currently 24th in offensive efficiency, 23rd in defense and has the fourth-worst net rating, getting outscored by nearly eight points per 100 possessions. 

The Wizards' defense has been legitimately awful through the first 12 games of the year, but perhaps the Hornets could be their "get right" game to build some confidence on that end of the floor. 

To do that, they'll need to neutralize Terry Rozier and Miles Bridges. 

Terry Rozier

Rozier broke out in the 2018 playoffs by helping lead the Celtics to the brink of the NBA Finals without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. His follow-up act last season was disastrous. He failed to adjust to a reserve role behind Irving, he ended up shooting 38 percent from the floor and the Celtics, for a multitude of reasons, crashed and burned. 

It became clear that for Rozier to succeed, he needed a team to give him a starting role. That's exactly what the Hornets provided when they signed him to a three-year, $58 million deal to replace Kemba Walker. 

In his first season as a full-time starter, Rozier is averaging 16.5 points, 4.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds while shooting a career-high 41 percent from the floor and 35 percent from three. When trying to stop the Hornets' attack, nearly everything begins with Rozier. 

He's not much of a facilitator on pick and rolls, mostly looking to score off the dribble. This isn't something he's great at, because Rozier's a streaky shooter. If the Wizards' defense lets him get comfortable early and some of his pull-up jumpers fall, he could be in line for a 25-plus point night. 

Miles Bridges

Bridges may not be the most polished offensive player yet, scoring most of his points off of activity and athleticism around the rim, but that's the kind of player who could go off against a defense like the Wizards.

He's shooting a modest 36 percent from three on 4.4 attempts per game, so there's not much of an upside to playing off of him to keep the second-year wing out of the paint. The key will be making sure he's accounted for on the offensive glass and getting back on defense after misses to limit transition opportunities. 

Similarly to Rozier, the Wizards need to be mindful not to let Bridges get going early on. If they can keep both out of rhythm early, Washington shouldn't have a tough time with these Hornets. 

Expectations were low coming into the year for the Wizards and seemingly fell even harder after the team limped out to a 2-7 start. However, it's clear this team can score against anyone and if they decide to play even a lick of defense on Friday, they should walk out with a relatively easy win. 

The Wizards and Hornets tip-off Friday night at 7 p.m. EST on NBC Sports Washington.

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Bradley Beal, Rui Hachimura get a boost on their NBA 2K20 ratings

Bradley Beal, Rui Hachimura get a boost on their NBA 2K20 ratings

Bradley Beal is lighting up every defense he plays against and NBA 2K20 has taken notice. Though his rating still isn't as high as it should be. 

The Wizards play the Hornets on Friday at 7 p.m. EST on NBC Sports Washington.

Beal came into the season with an underwhelming 87 overall rating, and after averaging over 30 points per game over the first 12 games of the season, 2K decided to bump him up to 89 overall

Other rating changes included Luka Doncic going from a 90 to a 93, Andrew Wiggins humping from 80 to 84, and Joel Embiid and Kyrie Irving each experiencing a drop from 92 to 91. 

Beal has one of the biggest jumps of the batch here, but let's be honest, he should be at least a 90 overall. 

He's leading the most prolific offense in the NBA, putting up career-high scoring numbers on uncharacteristically low shooting percentages and is well on his way to an All-NBA selection. He deserves a spot amongst the NBA's elite. 

Also, Rui Hachimura, who entered the season with a 76 got a small bump to 77 overall. He's started the season strong as one of the leading scorers among all rookies at 13.3 points per game and is starting to prove he's a building block for the Wizards. 

There's plenty of time for Beal and Hachimura to get another boost before the season ends, so if they continue to play the way they have to start the year, Wizards fans should expect Beal in 90s and Hachimura in the 80s before long. 

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