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When will Markieff Morris return to Wizards? Plus, John Wall on the All-Star Game

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When will Markieff Morris return to Wizards? Plus, John Wall on the All-Star Game

Here are the highlights from Wednesday's Wizards practice...

Morris still not with the team

One day after he and his brother were acquitted of assault charges in an Arizona courtroom, Markieff Morris was not with the Wizards as they practiced at Capital One Arena. The Wizards expect Morris to make his return to the team some time this week, as early as Thursday. The Wizards play their second preseason game on Friday night at home against the New York Knicks.

Morris won't be participating in that game anyways due to his recovery from sports hernia surgery. He is expected to miss several weeks of the regular season, which begins on Oct. 18. Still, the Wizards want to get him back as soon as possible.

"It's great, that's my guy," John Wall said of Morris' acquittal. "I talked to him afterwards. I told him congratulations to him and his brother. Now, get his butt back to D.C. I'm glad it's over and he can focus on basketball and try to get healthy and be back with the team."

Head coach Scott Brooks left Morris a voicemail, but hadn't heard back from the power forward as of Wednesday afternoon. Brooks expects Morris to spend some time with his family first before arriving in Washington. Morris' first child was born just weeks before the trial.

Brooks said the Wizards linked Morris up with a group of specialists in Phoenix to help aid his recovery. They hope to have him with the Wizards' medical staff and around his teammates soon.

"It's always important for him to be around with all of our guys. That's the tough thing about injuries, you feel left out," Brooks said. "He's quiet, but he has a voice with our guys. he has that calming influence and that toughness. When he speaks, players listen."

The Wizards have been exploring their options to replace Morris in the lineup while he's out through training camp and now one preseason game. It will come down to Jason Smith, Mike Scott or Chris McCullough, but the plans could center around Otto Porter playing some power forward in small-ball lineups. Brooks said the process remains ongoing.

Wall reacts to new All-Star Game format

The NBA's announcement of a new All-Star Game format could affect Wall very directly, as Wall has been an All-Star in each of the past four seasons. No longer will the East play the West. Now captains will pick teams playground style.

Wall didn't have much to say when asked for his reaction to the news, but does think it will be good for the league.

"Trying something new I think will be exciting for the fans to see. It's great. It's like when the lockout was happening, people were going to different charity games and playing. It could turn out to be something like that and be a lot of fun," he said.

And like most basketball fans, he's all for the drama that could come out from captains picking teams.

"You could have players that are captains and might not like players on other teams, so they won't pick them," he said with a smile.

Wall is big in China

After the Wizards beat the Guangzhou Long-Lions in their preseason game on Monday, several members of the Long-Lions showed up in the Wizards' locker room afterwards. They all wanted to meet Wall. 

"Just about every player came to the locker room," Wall said. "They took pictures and some of them got some autographs. It was just like their shoot around shirts and shirts they had on. Stuff like that."

Though Wall didn't play in the game, clearly the Long-Lions players were excited to see him.

Injury updates

Tim Frazier didn't practice due to his groin strain and may not practice on Thursday. Devin Robinson remains out with a stress fracture in his left foot. Both he and Frazier were limited to light shooting work. 

Sheldon Mac remains sidelined with a jammed left thumb. Brooks described Mac as "much better" one day later and said he could be cleared for contact on Thursday. Unfortunately for Mac, there is competition at his position now with veterans Carrick Felix and Donald Sloan in house. Mac had a strong game on Monday, but certainly wants to get back as soon as possible.

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: John Wall goes 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, celebrity softball and the Summer League


Wizards Tipoff podcast: John Wall goes 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, celebrity softball and the Summer League

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, John Wall went 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, the celebrity softball game and the Summer League.

Chase Hughes and Chris Miller broke down the parallels between Wall and Harper and why Wall has chosen to stay loyal to Washington in his own contract decisions. Plus, can the Wizards really tone down the talking this season?

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Kawhi Leonard going to the Raptors may actually be good news for the Wizards and the East

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Kawhi Leonard going to the Raptors may actually be good news for the Wizards and the East

Through nearly three weeks of NBA free agency and almost a month of trades, the Eastern Conference had remained eerily quiet. The Wizards had arguably been the most aggressive team in the East, as all the biggest moves had occurred in the West and, most notably, LeBron James changed coasts.

That all changed on Wednesday as the Toronto Raptors pulled off a trade with the San Antonio Spurs to land Kawhi Leonard, a two-time defensive player of the year. The full deal includes All-NBA guard DeMar DeRozan going to San Antonio along with big man Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first round pick. The Raptors also get guard Danny Green, according to ESPN.

Here are some takeaways from the trade...

This is good, potentially great news for the Wizards

The worst-case scenario for the Wizards and most of the East would have been if Leonard got dealt to either the Sixers or Celtics, as the potential would have been there for a dominant team. The Sixers, in particular, could have conceivably traded for Leonard without giving up much in the way of pieces that can help them now. They would have teamed Leonard with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid and would probably be the favorites to reach the NBA Finals. Instead, the Sixers struck out and now face the prospect of taking a pretty big L on this offseason, given all the guys they were tied to going into it.

Leonard and the Raptors will be good and they may even be better than they were last season. Though the Raptors won 59 games in the regular season, they disappointed in the playoffs. Leonard could change that, but he won't have the help to make them an unstoppable force. Kyle Lowry is good, but he's an aging player and they don't have a third star, at least not yet. They have a lot of recent first round picks that could, in theory, make the leap.

This deal is good for the Wizards and could become great if Leonard leaves in free agency next summer. If he does, the Raptors will be in deep trouble.

What will the Lakers do?

When James signed with the Lakers, most assumed they would then add at least one star to run with him. But now that Leonard is going to Toronto, it's very possible they don't add one at all. James might actually have to play with Lonzo Ball in addition to Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee. Sure, they can sign Leonard next summer or find another star then, but this is shaping up as of now to be a lost year for James.

As consistitued, they aren't winning anything of substance. It's just so surprising James would be cool with this level of talent around him considering what he could have done this season if he signed with Philly or some other team.

People are looking at the wrong contract

Much of the instant reaction to the Leonard trade was praise for the Raptors in ridding themselves of DeRozan's deal. That's a headscratcher. DeRozan is set to make over $27 million in the next three years, the third being a player option, but he's an All-NBA player who turns 29 next month. In the context of NBA contracts, that isn't too bad.

Lowry's contract, on the other hand, is borderline awful. He's 32 with his numbers heading in the wrong direction and he's due to make $31 million next season and $33.3 million the year after. It's not like the Raptors freed themselves of their worst deal.

Masai is making moves

This is a risk for the Raptors and you have to respect it. Their general manager, Masai Ujiri, had seen enough of the DeRozan-Lowry duo falling short in the playoffs. He fired head coach Dwane Casey and pulled off a trade for Leonard, who at his best is one of the premier players in the NBA.

There is considerable risk in this move with Leonard having missed 73 games last season with a quadriceps injury and given the fact he can opt to test free agency next summer. If he really does want to join the Lakers, he could leave the Raptors empty-handed.

But it's a risk that is probably worth taking. Everyone assumed the same future for Paul George and he ended up staying in Oklahoma City. It's not a guarantee Leonard leaves and now the Raptors have a year to convince him to stay. Ujiri should get praise for this deal because it's bold and he did one of the hardest things a GM can do in finding a top-5 talent for his team.

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