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Troy Brown Jr. reflects on his first season with the Wizards

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Troy Brown Jr. reflects on his first season with the Wizards

CHICAGO -- Troy Brown Jr. arrived at the 2018 NBA Combine a tad overwhelmed. That was certainly an understandable feeling considering the stakes. His draft stock would rise or fall based on his work on the court and during interviews with teams. 

“I wouldn’t say I was lost, but I didn’t know what to expect,” Brown said. “I was just kind of going about things, trying to do everything the best I could. …I knew I was going to get drafted, but it was more about the work that I put in. Is it going to happen? I want to go this number (in the draft). There’s a lot of stuff running through your brain.”

One year later, the Washington Wizards’ 19-year-old swingman returned wiser and calmer. There was no need to impress scouts or front executives this time. The one only skill set required, penmanship.

While the class of 2019 went under the pre-draft microscope, the 15th overall selection in the 2018 draft focused on inking his name to dozens of trading cards.

“It’s surreal, getting paid for your presence,” Brown told NBC Sports Washington. “People flying you out just to sign (trading) cards. You get paid for being here and for whatever you sign. It’s definitely fun. Never in a million years did I think I’d be getting paid to show up. It’s fun, especially at a young age.”

One year prior the Las Vegas native and University of Oregon product had no clue he would begin his NBA career on the East Coast or sign a contract with the Wizards. Brown did not even meet with Washington at his Combine. 

The two sides would connect swimmingly the following month during Brown’s workout at Capital One Arena that also featured the player eventually selected 16th, Zhaire Smith.

“All I remember is going in (to Washington), and I killed my workout against some of the top guys,” Brown said. “My interview when I was leaving was really good. I really hit it off with them.”

Perhaps the wildest difference from a year prior, beyond the experienced gained from an NBA season and another trip around the sun is Brown’s status with the Wizards. 

Immediate expectations for his rookie season were not lofty mainly because of the veteran pieces already on the roster. Now ahead of the 2019 draft, Brown is the second-most-interesting healthy player behind Bradley Beal in terms of the long haul despite a limited role for the 32-50 Wizards. 

No disrespect to the 6-foot-6 Brown, but that interesting claim is mostly a function of expected player turnover. More than half of last season’s final roster is entering some form of free agency.

“It’s definitely weird not knowing who is going to be back and knowing our whole roster (might) be different,” said Brown, who averaged 4.8 points and 14 minutes in 54 games last season. 

Granted, the Wizards spent nearly all of the 2018-19 campaign flipping the roster via trades and numerous signings.

“At the same time, you know it’s a business,” Brown continued. “I’m kind of use to it now. I had 24 teammates in one year.”

Current teammates on guaranteed contracts for next season include Beal, John Wall, Ian Mahinmi and Dwight Howard. Of that group, Brown is perhaps the best bet to play next season in Washington. 

Beal, coming off a near All-NBA season, is the subject of trade rumors with two years remaining on his contract. Wall might miss the entire season following February’s Achilles injury. 

Using the stretch provision on Howard’s $5.5 million salary would remove the center from the roster one year after injuries limited him to nine games. Mahinmi’s expiring contract perhaps offers value in a trade as a matching salary. 

Who knows what to expect for an organization that has yet to replace Ernie Grunfeld even though the long-time President of Basketball Operations was fired more than two months ago. 

The Wizards currently own the ninth selection in the 2019 Draft. There’s a belief Washington’s draft plans include buying into the second round. Free agency comes around ten days later. Maybe the Wizards keep free agents like Tomas Satoransky, Thomas Bryant and Jeff Green. Regardless, new guys are showing up.

Brown’s role remains uncertain coach Scott Brooks’ watch. Certainly do not write predictions in pen seeing as Brown rarely received meaningful action during the season, though he averaged 10.4 points in 30 minutes over the final ten games once the Wizards fell out of the playoff race.

Regardless, Brown recognized his growth over the last year after checking out prospects set to join him the pro ranks.

“Now with that experience under my belt with that one year, I know what to expect, what I’m capable of and the position I’m in,” Brown said. “It’s definitely a good feeling to come back and see guys I played against a year ago now going through the Combine.”

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Kevin Durant posts cryptic, oddly timed tweet after Nets lose to Trail Blazers

Kevin Durant posts cryptic, oddly timed tweet after Nets lose to Trail Blazers

The Nets, playing without Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and most of their key rotation players, lost to Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers Thursday night, clinching a play-in opportunity for Portland as the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

Lillard had 42 points and was masterful from deep. At one point, he even pulled up from the logo just beyond half-court and drilled a three. 

While Lillard was the story of the game, Durant drew some attention on social media afterward by tweeting a picture of himself dunking in Drake's "Laugh Now Cry Later" music video.

Durant's been out all year recovering from Achilles surgery, but for some reason Nets fans are still holding out hope that he might return, so one of the leading theories for the motivation behind the tweet is that Durant would return for the playoffs. The Nets hold the seventh seed in the East and are set to face the defending champion Raptors in the first round.

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He would have to enter the bubble and quarantine for 10 days before presumably playing in his first game in over a year with little to no ramp-up. If Durant entered the bubble today, he'd be able to return by the time the Nets play the Raptors in Game 5 of the first round. Seems unlikely.

Another theory is that because the Blazers beat the Nets, there's a good chance the Lakers will have a tougher road to the NBA Finals. Given we have no reason to believe he's interested in the Lakers winning a title or that he'd actually be happy after his team loses probably busts this one as well. 

Could it be that Durant was excited about being in a popular music video and tweeted a still of himself coincidentally 30-or-so minutes after his team wrapped up its regular season? Probably, but when has that ever stopped the Twitter detectives from going nuts online?

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Bradley Beal feels bad for the Phoenix Suns: "Boys went undefeated down there, no reward."

Bradley Beal feels bad for the Phoenix Suns: "Boys went undefeated down there, no reward."

Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal didn't make the trip to Orlando for the NBA restart due to shoulder rehab, but don't think for a second he wasn't tuned into the NBA action every day. 

One of the many incredible storylines inside the NBA Bubble was the performance of Devin Booker and the Phonix Suns — the Suns, who were the second-to-last team invited to the restart, went 8-0 in the seeding games but still didn't qualify for the playoff play-in tournament. 

Beal chimed in on Twitter. 

"Feel for Phx!" Beal said. "Boys went undefeated down there, no reward."

After defeating the Dallas Mavericks, 128-102, yesterday afternoon, the Suns needed the Brooklyn Nets to down the Portland Trailblazers in order to make the play-in tournament. While the game was extremely exciting and came down to the last shot, Damian Lilliard and the Blazers walked away victorious. 

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Suns head coach Monty Williams gave an awe-inspiring speech to the team after their victory, noting that regardless if they got into the tournament or not that he was extremely proud of them.

"This was therapeutic for me to be around a group like this. I love you," Williams said. "I don't care what happens tonight, I know what I've got in this room."

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