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Plenty of former Wizards and DMV locals in the 2019 NBA Finals

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Plenty of former Wizards and DMV locals in the 2019 NBA Finals

For four decades, the NBA Finals have gone without an appearance from the Wizards. Washington has yet to make it back to the highest stage in professional basketball since 1979, when the Seattle Supersonics defeated the then-Washington Bullets in just five games.

So when the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors kick off the 2019 NBA Finals at 8 p.m. on Thursday, fans will look for the players (and others) with ties to either the Wizards or the Washington, D.C. area. 

Here's how the Wizards and the D.M.V. are represented during the 2019 NBA Finals:

Former Wizards Players:

There are two former Wizards players represented during this year's NBA Finals, with both the Raptors and Warriors rostering one each.

Shooting guard Jodie Meeks, who appeared in 77 games for the Wizards during the 2017-18 season, was signed by Toronto in late March after the Bucks released him following a trade with the Wizards last October. Meeks has appeared in 13 games during the Raptors playoff run, and should see sparing minutes during the Finals.

For the Warriors, guard Shaun Livingston had two different stints in Washington, once during the 2009-10 season and the other during the 2012-13 season, before finding a permanent home in Golden State. Livingston appeared in a total of 43 games with the Wizards, starting 22, and averaged 7.0 points per game.

Since Livingston arrived in the Bay Area in 2014, the Warriors have gone on to win three NBA Finals, with Livingston playing a vital role in all.

Players from the Washington, D.C. area

Four Warriors players have ties to the Washington, D.C. area.

It's no secret that Warriors star forward Kevin Durant is from the Washington, D.C. area. Durant spent his junior year of high school at Rockville's Montrose Christian, before transferring to the powerhouse Oak Hill Academy for his senior year.

Although he elected to play his college ball at Texas rather than Maryland, Georgetown or any other local school, and has never played for the Wizards, Durant has stayed loyal to his D.C. roots and gave back plenty to the community. 

Earlier this year, Durant opened up The Durant Center in his native Prince George's County. The facility is described as a "state-of-the-art facility offering students the academic, financial, and social-emotional resources to achieve their college and career goals." In 2018, Durant made a $10 million commitment to Prince George's County Public Schools.

Durant isn't the only Warrior that is from the D.C. area. Reserve guard Quinn Cook is from Washington, D.C., and played his first three years of high school at DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Md. before, like Durant, transferring to Oak Hill for his senior year.

After a stellar career at Duke University, Cook bounced around the G-League before finding a home with Golden State. The two are close friends, a friendship that dates back to their D.C. roots.

Other Ties to D.C.

Current Raptors President of Operations, Masai Ujiri, has ties to the Washington area as well. His wife, Ramatu Ujiri, is from Greenbelt, Md., which is less than 10 miles from D.C. Additionally, Ujiri is one of the potential candidates to replace Ernie Grunfeld for the same position with the Wizards.

Now the question is, would he do it? Soon, we will find out.

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Survey of NBA general managers reportedly shows divide in how teams want to proceed with season

Survey of NBA general managers reportedly shows divide in how teams want to proceed with season

A conference call between NBA general managers and commissioner Adam Silver on Thursday revealed a divide as to how the GMs think the league should proceed if able to finish the 2019-20 season, according to a report by The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor.

GMs were given a survey, the results of which were revealed on the call, and according to the report, they were split on several things:

  • Half the general managers voted to skip the rest of the regular season and go straight to the playoffs

  • More than half voted to reseed the playoffs 1 to 16, regardless of conference

  • About 75 percent voted in favor of a play-in tournament for bubble teams to determine the final playoff seeds; the other 25 percent voted in favor of a World Cup-style group stage

The play-in tournament was reported as a potential option by ESPN on Wednesday. Labeled as a “playoffs plus” format, it would allow teams just outside of the playoff picture like the New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs and Sacramento Kings -- all separated by just 1.5 games -- a way to play themselves into the playoffs if the regular season is in fact canceled. 

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The Wizards, currently the ninth seed in the Eastern Conference and 5.5 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot, weren’t mentioned in the report, but it did say 20-24 teams would be included. This would likely include Washington.

According to O’Connor, teams with top seeds like the East-leading Bucks and West-leading Lakers favor the play-in option over a group stage, likely because they get an easier matchup against lower-seeded teams and a less difficult path to a title. And because teams will always vote in their own best interest, the survey isn’t an indication of what will ultimately happen.

“There was zero commitment to any one plan,” one of the GMs told O’Connor. “But it was a call to gather more information.”

On Friday, Silver will talk with the league’s board of governors to discuss formats to resume the season, a potential timeline for return, and more. But nothing is expected to be determined on that call either.

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Scott Brooks: Bradley Beal is one of the NBA's best overall players

Scott Brooks: Bradley Beal is one of the NBA's best overall players

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks always has nice things to say about Bradley Beal, his star shooting guard. But on Thursday night's 'Wizards Greatest Hits' broadcast on NBC Sports Washington, he took it up a notch with his praise.

While speaking with host Chris Miller as they watched back the Wizards' Jan. 2019 win over the Knicks in London, Brooks shared some very high compliments of Beal.

"He is really one of the best players in the league," Brooks said. "All-around, not only at guard, he is one of the best players in the league. His game has improved so much over the past three years. He's getting better every year."

As they watched the fourth quarter of that Wizards-Knicks game, Brooks went on about how Beal can flip a switch during crunch time and how sometimes all it takes is a quick conversation between them.

"There are times where I need him to take over a game. I just say 'Brad, it's time,'" Brooks said.

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The best line from Brooks may have been when Beal not making the 2019-20 All-Star team came up. Brooks' coaching peers vote on the reserves and they famously left Beal out, which made for some history combined with his scoring average at the time.

Brooks wants to know from other NBA coaches: "If you don't think he's an All-Star, then why are you double-teaming every single time we play?"

If you get an answer to that question, Scott, be sure to let us know.

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