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Well-balanced attack leads Wizards over Kings, 121-115

Well-balanced attack leads Wizards over Kings, 121-115

The Washington Wizards beat the Sacramento Kings 121-115 on Monday night. Here are five observations from the game...

1. Wizards head coach Scott Brooks referred to his team's two narrow losses over the past weekend as "heartbreaking." On Monday against the Kings, they held on just barely to prevent a third.

The Wizards went up 14 in the first quarter, only to see that lead disappear in the second. They led by nine entering the fourth, but the Kings pushed back and took them down to the final minute.

A series of stops in the closing possessions and a fourth-quarter takeover by Bradley Beal made the difference. Beal had 12 of his 26 points in the final frame.

The win kept things looking somewhat decent for the Wizards in the big picture, considering the alternative would have been three straight defeats. They have now won four of their last seven and three straight at home.

If the Wizards are to have any prayer of making the playoffs, they will need to run off a bunch of wins during the next two weeks. Monday was the first of seven out of eight games at home. They are now 20-12 at Capital One Arena compared to 8-27 everywhere else.

2. Jabari Parker has his faults and on some nights more than others. But the man can flat-out score and on Monday he did in a variety of ways.

Parker is at his best when he's charging at the rim consistently and he did plenty of that against the Kings. But he also had his outside shot falling and went 3-for-5 from three.

Parker had nine points in his first 10 minutes and finished with 18. He shot 7-for-13.

Parker is the Wizards' second-most skilled offensive player behind Beal and it may not be that close. Again, he has other shortcomings, but he can completely change a game with his scoring and the Wizards seized momentum on several occasions against the Kings because Parker went off.

3. We saw some Chasson Randle for the first time in three games. His rotation spot has basically been taken by Troy Brown Jr., who has emerged as the primary back-up point guard, at least for the moment.

Randle, though, saw 14 minutes of action and was one of the first guys off the bench in the first quarter. He took Sam Dekker's spot, as Dekker didn't play at all.

It may have just been a match-up decision. The Kings have two quick guards in De'Aaron Fox and Yogi Ferrell. With Ferrell in the second unit, Randle gave the Wizards a good counter. Ferrell would be a tough assignment for Brown, who is about eight inches taller.

It is something to keep in mind as Brown continues to learn the point guard position. Though he can hold his own offensively, it appears, there are going to be some nights where adjustments need to be made due to smaller, quicker guards on the other side.

4. There was a career-first for Tomas Satoransky, his first technical foul. Late in the second quarter, Satoransky got called for a foul when Fox drove past him for an and-1 layup. Satoransky grabbed the ball and fired a baseball throw at the basket stanchion.

He was quickly whistled for the tech:

Satoransky is usually very good at keeping his cool, but that one could cost him some money. 

5. I'm not the first to say this, but the Kings may have a good one in Harry Giles III. First of all, the athleticism stands out. Even at 20, he's a physical force and has the quickness to get by guys his size.

He made a move against Thomas Bryant in the first half that was special for a player his size. He faked left and drove right and got to the basket with the speed of a guard.

Bryant, by the way, had one of his worst games of the season as he dealt with Giles and Willie Cauley-Stein down low. Bryant had only two points and zero rebounds.

Giles didn't have an amazing stat line or anything. He ended up with 12 points, six rebounds, and three assists. But he looks like another nice find for the Kings, who have made a habit of stacking young building blocks in recent years.

I have no idea if he's smart or has a good work ethic, but the natural tools are clearly there for him to be a good player in this league.

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Dwight Howard opts into second year of contract with Wizards

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Dwight Howard opts into second year of contract with Wizards

The Wizards are set to have Dwight Howard back for a second year, as the veteran center informed the team of his plans to exercise the $5.6 million player option in his contract for the 2019-20 season, NBC Sports Washington has confirmed.

Howard, 33, indicated to Wizards brass in his exit meeting last week he was likely to opt in to the second and final year of his deal, but there was some thought he would wait until closer to the June 29 deadline. The reason why is Howard's continued recovery from the back surgery he had in November, a procedure that kept him sidelined for the final five months of the season.

But Howard has now made his intentions known, giving the Wizards a clearer picture of their offseason. With him in the mix, they essentially have five players under contract next season. They technically have six, though Jabari Parker's $20 million team option is essentially a lock to not be picked up.

Howard appeared in only nine games in his first season with the Wizards. He missed all of training camp and their preseason schedule with back issues, played for just over two weeks in November and then went down for the year. He had the surgery, a lumbar microdiscotemy, on Nov. 30. 

Though his time on the floor was brief, he put up solid numbers with averages of 12.8 points and 9.2 rebounds. The Wizards missed his rebounding in particular, as they finished 27th in the league in the category and 28th in rebounds against.

Howard will certainly hope for a better showing in Year 2 with the Wizards, though there may be no guarantee he actually comes back. The Wizards are currently searching for a new general manager, and that person could choose to go in a different direction if ownership permits them to.

Keep in mind last summer Howard was traded soon after Mitch Kupchak took over the Hornets' front office and the Nets bought him out immediately after acquiring him. Howard's $5.6 million salary is relatively inexpensive, as Brooklyn paid $18.9 million to part ways.

Time will tell if Howard's career continues in Washington, but for now he is slated to come back next season for a second year with the Wizards.

ESPN's Zach Lowe first reported the news of Howard opting in.

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How John Wall's injury affects the Wizards' many decisions this summer

How John Wall's injury affects the Wizards' many decisions this summer

With the 2018-19 season in the rearview for the Washington Wizards, we at NBC Sports Washington are analyzing the five biggest questions of what should be the most consequential offseason they have had in years...

NO. 4: HOW WILL JOHN WALL'S CONTRACT AFFECT ROSTER CONSTRUCTION?

Though there are several events this summer that could ultimately define the Wizards' offseason, one storyline will hang over everything and factor into just about every decision made by the front office and whomever ends up leading it as the team's new general manager. That is the future of John Wall, who is set to miss at least most of next season due to a ruptured left Achilles, in what will be the first year of his supermax contract.

Wall had surgery on Feb. 12. Even if he returns one year after going under the knife, he will still miss roughly 50 games next season. When he does come back, there are no guarantees he will be the same player. He turns 29 in September and a ruptured Achilles is a very serious injury, especially for a guy whose game has traditionally been reliant on speed.

The Wizards, of course, hope Wall will regain his peak form, but even if that happens it is unlikely to be the case right away. It may not be until the 2020-21 season until the Wizards get a true read on Wall post-surgery and how much value he can provide while making the money he is due. 

Speaking of the money, Wall will still take up a considerable chunk of the salary cap despite not playing. He is set to earn 35 percent of the cap next season, which right now is projected at about $37.8 million. Though that could technically fluctuate based on the final cap number, the percentage is what matters. The Wizards will basically have to build a roster with only 65 percent of the cap at their disposal.

There is an argument that Wall's injury is one of the biggest roster-building obstacles in NBA history. Supermax contracts, ones that allow players to make a contract that begins at 35 percent of the salary cap, are a new concept. And no one else has suffered such a serious injury while getting paid that type of money. 

It may not be quite what the Brooklyn Nets overcame in the fallout of their infamous trade with the Boston Celtics, the one that resulted in a net loss of three first round picks. But it's a bad situation, one that will require some creativity from whomever is tasked with pulling the Wizards out of it.

The long-term ramifications will depend on how Wall plays when he returns, but the short-term effect will clearly be felt. First, the Wizards have to have an insurance policy at point guard and a good one if they hope to compete for the playoffs. Maybe that is as simple as re-signing Tomas Satoransky, but regardless they have to shore up that position, knowing Wall's status.

Second, the Wizards need to find bargains to fill out the rest of their roster. They will have to find some cheap players simply to reach the 13-player minimum with Bradley Beal's max deal also on the books. Beal will earn roughly $27.1 million next season.

The biggest question as it pertains to Wall may deal with the NBA Draft on June 20. What if the Wizards get some luck in the May 14 draft lottery, but not enough to get the No. 1 pick (i.e. Zion Williamson), and Ja Morant is the best player on the board? Morant, of course, is the Murray State superstar who lit up the NCAA Tournament in March.

Morant is dynamic and has serious star potential, and he plays point guard. Wall was already asked about the potential of the Wizards drafting a point guard with a high pick. He said he would be fine with it, but that when he returns that draft pick can "be a great back-up" to him.

If the Wizards picked Morant, or even Coby White of North Carolina, it would arguably be the smart move to make. They need to select the best player available, no matter the position. 

But if they do take a point guard, that will present a unique dynamic to their locker room, especially if that player turns into a star. What if Morant comes in and lights it up as a rookie? How will Wall deal with that? And could you then put Morant on the bench when Wall returns, as Wall suggests they would?

Those are hypothetical scenarios that can be addressed if they actually enter the equation this summer and beyond. But there is no question that, even as Wall is sidelined with an injury, his presence will loom over the Wizards in many ways.

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