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New dad Tomas Satoransky returns from All-Star break ready to guide new-look Wizards down closing stretch

New dad Tomas Satoransky returns from All-Star break ready to guide new-look Wizards down closing stretch

WASHINGTON -- Integrating new additions comes with the territory for point guards. Tomas Satoransky is living the adjustment life on, and most excitedly, off the court. 

The Washington Wizards reunited Wednesday following the weeklong NBA All-Star break. The practice session was the Wizards’ first since a pair of trades on Feb. 6 added Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker and Wes Johnson to the roster. Playing four games in six days left no time for formal practices. More group work comes Thursday before the playoff push continues Friday at Charlotte.

“We’re glad for that,” Satoransky said of the practices. “When we made those trades we were in game rhythm. It’s obviously tough to practice (during the season). I think our offense is definitely going to be better.”

The 27-year-old Czech Republic native’s world became infinitely better during that busy game stretch. Becoming a first-time father has that effect.

Satoransky missed the final two games before the break to be with his wife, Anna, as she gave birth to the couple’s first child, Sofia. 

Always a natural smiler, Satoransky practically floated when asked about the life-altering event coming during the season’s lone extended break.

“It was great timing,” Satoransky said. “I could spend all the time with my family. Words can’t describe the feeling. It was huge for me. Very emotional.”

We can, therefore, imagine Satoransky’s thoughts were perhaps a touch divided on the first day back at work, though he ended the previous quote with, “Looking forward to getting back to work and finishing the season strong.” 

The Wizards (24-34) need collective resolve from all their key figures over the final 24 games. Washington sits in 11th place in the Eastern Conference and three games back of the Detroit Pistons for the eighth and final playoff berth.

“Everything is still open,” Satoransky said of the playoff chase. "Like everyone says, we have to take it game by game. We still feel like we have a chance. We have good potential with this group.”

This group might as well be considered a new team. Six of Washington’s top seven scorers from last season are no longer with the team or, in the case of John Wall, out with a season-ending injury. More than half of the players in the current rotation were not on the team six weeks into the season. Portis, Parker and Johnson play their fifth game with their new team Friday.

“I’m kind of used to this,” Satoransky said of the changes. “Observing new players, trying to help them get in our system. That’s kind of what a point guard has to do.”

Another change looms. Center Dwight Howard is expected to rejoin the team Thursday for the first time since undergoing back surgery on Nov. 30. The eight-time All-Star did his rehab work in Atlanta. Head coach Scott Brooks said Howard, whose return to Washington was delayed a day because of snowy conditions in the area, would begin with non-contact work before the medical staff established new timelines.

For now, that means a heavy-dose of small-ball. Brooks primarily kept only one traditional big man – Portis or Thomas Bryant – on the court with a combination of Trevor Ariza, Jeff Green and Parker at forward. Satoransky believes the versatility with these pieces – including two-time All-Star guard Bradley Beal – offers upside.

“I feel like we have a defensive minded group,” Satoransky said. “We can switch everything and make it tough on the opposite team. I think we got better at that.”

If the Wizards are lucky, a trait not often associated with the team during this most frustrating season, no additional modifications are required beyond Howard’s potential return. 

“There’s a lot of things that happened this season. Hopefully, this is it,” Satoransky joked.

Even if new or unforeseen events lead to additional tweaks, who better to handle than a point guard floating on air.

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Wizards owner Ted Leonsis talks Dwyane Wade, still undecided on offseason moves

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USA TODAY SPORTS

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis talks Dwyane Wade, still undecided on offseason moves

WASHINGTON -- Ted Leonsis had a front row seat to two converging storylines.

The Wizards owner was among throngs inside Capital One Arena appreciating Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade’s final game in Washington.

Leonsis also recognized the likely last gasp for his team’s playoff hopes came up short.

“They’ll make the playoffs. It doesn’t look like we’ll make the playoffs now,” Leonsis said to NBC Sports Washington following the Wizards’ loss Saturday night.

 “Hope [Dwyane] plays well,” Leonsis continued. “We’ll have to figure out what to do in the off-season.”

The loss dropped the Wizards (30-44) 6 ½ games back of the Heat for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Washington only has eight regular-season games remaining.

Earlier this season Leonsis said organizational changes are in play should the Wizards fail to reach their goals, which included reaching the postseason for the fifth time in six seasons.

Asked for his current thoughts on any off-season changes, Leonsis told NBC Sports Washington, “Don’t know yet. Let’s see how they do out West. It was disappointing. We were trying to catch [Miami].”

The Wizards embark on a four-game Western Conference road trip starting Tuesday against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Despite any frustration with the game’s conclusion and the season at-large, Leonsis appreciated Wade’s gusto on his way out. 

The 16-year veteran and 13-time All-Star announced his retirement before the season. Wade, 37, looked anything but over-the-hill late against the Wizards.

Having turned into Miami’s closer after the All-Star break, Wade scored 11 of his team-high 20 points in the fourth quarter as the Heat (36-37) fended off several Wizards rallies.

“Kind of historic, right? (Wild) that Dwyane Wade beat us tonight,” Leonsis said. “What a career, what a game. Just everything about the way he plays is beautiful. He’s really great.”

Leonsis remarked the referees overlooked an apparent traveling violation from Wade in the third quarter.

“We wanted to beat them. They played better. The no-call on Dwyane on the travel was apropos. I thought he took five steps. You say, ‘Well, that’s when you’re a Hall of Famer you get that respect,” Leonsis said respectfully. “But, good for him.”

Miami moved one game ahead of idle ninth-place Orlando in the Eastern Conference standings.

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Scott Brooks jokes that the Heat should be fined for letting Wade call it a career

Scott Brooks jokes that the Heat should be fined for letting Wade call it a career

On most occasions, elite athletes decide to finish their careers way after their skills have declined. It is uncommon for most icons to go out on their own terms. When you train your entire life to play professional basketball, it's a tough task to realize that your time has passed, and its time to move on to another venture. 

Dwyane Wade is not grouped into that category. Tonight's performance against the Wizards justified that. 

After announcing publicly last September that the 2018-19 NBA season would be his last, the news left the sports world nostalgic. Once a bright young star out of Marquette, "Flash" was must-see television.

After announcing last September that this would be his last ride in South Beach, Wade, albeit the face of the franchise, knew that this team wasn't the one he had joined when he was drafted fifth overall in June of 2003. It wasn't the squad he won his first title with in '06, or the bunch that started the "Super Team" movement. This was a collection of young prospects, journeymen, and he was a veteran presence, and no longer the marquee option. He welcomed the move to the bench and to be the veteran presence in the locker room that the team needed and has had quite the resurgence of sorts that has the sports world questioning whether retirement is really the best option, and whether he should come back another year. 

Scott Brooks is one of many who thinks Wade should reconsider.

In his final appearance at Capital One Arena Saturday evening, the veteran star lead his group to victory, showing flashes of the player he once was, and carrying his squad to a crucial road win. 

Brooks joked that "the NBA needs to fine the Miami Heat for letting him retire".

It appears that Wade's contemporaries are of the mindset of Brooks. Wizards forward Jeff Green, who exploded for 25 points off the bench in the tough loss, discussed postgame that despite his efforts to get Wade to change his mind, the latter knows that it's time to move on.

"He's playing amazing," Green said. "I've tried my convincing, I've been trying for the last six months, it didn't work."

Green expressed that he's glad his friend is choosing to leave the game before it leaves him.

"I'm happy for the guy." Green said. "He's going out the way he wants to."

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