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Why the Wizards open GM role may be more attractive than it seems

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Why the Wizards open GM role may be more attractive than it seems

Five weeks ago, the Wizards fired longtime team president Ernie Grunfeld after 14 seasons with the team. Now, with the NBA Draft just over a month away, the search for a full-time replacement is expected to pick up.

One of the candidates reportedly in the mix is Denver Nuggets president of basketball operations, Tim Connelly. NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig recently explained why the Wizards could move quickly to get a deal done with Connelly, now that Denver has been eliminated from the playoffs.

On the latest #WizardsTalk podcast, Standig sat down with Chris Miles to discuss how the team's search for their next general manager has picked up steam.

Miles started off by saying that throughout the season, he expected current New Orleans Pelicans general manager David Griffin to be the eventual successor to Grunfeld.

"Well, I didn't want to call for Ernie [Grunfeld]'s job while he was still there. But I had plenty of conversations with David Griffin, who was adamant that this was a place that he wants to be," Miles said on the podcast. "He loves D.C., loves the atmosphere, loves the ownership and that sort of thing. So when Ernie was finally let go, I approached Griff[in] and I asked him, 'hey, are we going to work in D.C. together as well?' You know, just like joking around, seeing how he would take it, if he would tell me 'alright, this is getting too serious, leave me alone.'"

Griffin's response to Miles question was very intriguing.

He said, "'Oh, no Chris, I'm probably going to end up somewhere else soon.'" New Orleans is where he ended up three days later, and then he said: 'That's Tim [Connelly]'s job.' So, for David Griffin to just say that in a casual manner, that's what I got from a no-nonsense kind of guy." 

Connelly being connected with the Wizards isn't anything new. Last month, it was reported that Connelly called the Wizards opening his "dream job."

When asked who he expects to eventually get the position, Miles answer was rather clear on the podcast.

"So with the Nuggets being eliminated, the writing is on the wall. I'd be shocked if it were anyone else [but Connelly]," he said. "But then again, I thought for most of the season David Griffin was coming. It's just a matter if there is some sort of holdup or not. I think the fact that the position hasn't been filled means more toward Tim Connelly than anyone else. If the Nuggets had advanced, I would say that Tim Connelly is probably out. But this seems like the do-or-die period. You want after the lottery for the GM to be in place."

The NBA Draft Lottery is Tuesday evening. The Wizards have a nine percent chance at the No. 1 overall pick, and a 37.2 percent chance at a top-four pick.

Connelly is a local, who started his career as an intern with the Washington organization and spent over a decade with the Wizards before moving on to the New Orleans front office in 2010.

So what makes this position with the Wizards enticing? The power that can come with it.

"When negotiating with Washington, he's in a position to say 'look what I've done since I was here. Look where your franchise is as far as your salary cap and structure. You need me more than I need you. So I have the leverage; I need all of the power,'" Miles said. "And I think that is the point that this thing will really be hung up on, at least in my opinion. There's nothing to report here, there's no source on that. But looking at the situation in Denver, he's splitting that pie. There's a number of decision-makers, and I've seen that first hand. The New Orleans Pelicans wanted to draft Giannis [Antetokounmpo], but their general manager didn't have full autonomy there, and that didn't happen. So we didn't get to see Anthony Davis and Giannis."

After success in Denver, Miles believes Connelly is ready to have the power of full authority and decision-making.

"I think Tim Connelly has earned the right to make the final decision, and he's seen the kind of power that Ernie [Grunfeld] had here," Mules said. "I think that's a situation that might be very enticing and inviting for [Connelly]."

Miles also pointed out that being in Washington and on the east coast, it's a lot easier to scout overseas talent and make trips to Europe than doing such from Denver. 

"Tim Connelly has proven to be an expert at finding talent overseas. An expert," Miles said. "When you look at Jusuf Nurkic and Nikola Jokic and what they've become, and they've been a master in the draft with him there. They've really aced all of their picks."

When asked if the pick in the lottery the Wizards receive on Tuesday will affect whether Connelly would take the Wizards position if offered, Miles believes it is nothing more than a tiny factor. Regardless, receiving the No. 1 overall pick in the lottery would make any job more desirable than before.

"I definitively think that if you get the No. 1 pick in this draft, it makes the job way more desirable," Miles said. "If you're the Wizards and you end up with Zion Williamson, that cures so many ails, it's not even funny. Second pick, Ja Morant, is sensational. That presents you with an issue but also presents you with a tremendous talent."

Tuesday evening, the Wizards will know where they are selecting in June's draft. But in the near future, they will also know who will be their new general manager. And if you ask Miles, the answer as to who that should be is rather clear.

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5 guards the Wizards could target in NBA free agency including Quinn Cook and Patrick Beverley

5 guards the Wizards could target in NBA free agency including Quinn Cook and Patrick Beverley

The Washington Wizards will not have much money to spend in free agency and they have some of their own players to re-sign, which could affect the positions they target. With that in mind, here are some potential bargain options expected to be available this summer at the guard position...

Patrick Beverley, PG

Age: 30 (turns 31 in July)
2018-19 team: Clippers
2018-19 salary: $5M
2018-19 stats: 7.6 ppg, 3.8 apg, 5.0 rpg, 0.9 spg, 40.7 FG% (2.5/6.1), 39.7 3PT% (1.4/3.6)

Analysis: This could make sense if the Wizards realize quickly in free agency that Tomas Satoransky isn't coming back. If Satoransky returns, and that's what the Wizards hope, then Beverley would probably be too expensive. But from a playing style standpoint, he fits perfectly with what they desperately need. The Wizards were one of the worst defensive teams in basketball last season and lacked an overall edge. Beverley would form a tough frontline with Bradley Beal and add outside shooting.

Rajon Rondo, PG

Age: 33
2018-19 team: Lakers
2018-19 salary: $9M
2018-19 stats: 9.2 ppg, 8.0 apg, 5.3 rpg, 1.2 spg, 40.5 FG% (3.8/9.4), 35.9 3PT% (1.1/3.1)

Analysis: Here's another option that only really works if Satoransky leaves. But Rondo would be cheap by starting point guard standards and, in theory, could help the Wizards on the defensive end. If Washington is hell-bent on competing for the playoffs this season, Rondo could be among their best options to run point. He still can't shoot, but could run the offense as a stopgap until John Wall returns.

Wayne Ellington, SG

Age: 31
2018-19 team: Heat/Pistons
2018-19 salary: $6.3M
2018-19 stats: 12.0 ppg, 1.5 apg, 2.1 rpg, 1.1 spg, 42.1 FG% (4.1/9.8), 37.3 3PT% (2.9/7.8)

Analysis: The Wizards may not be able to afford Ellington, but he shouldn't command major money, so it's possible. He would be an excellent fit on their bench and could probably play alongside Beal in three-guard lineups. The biggest selling point point is shooting. Ellington would give the Wizards another three-point threat and they are probably going to need some shooters this offseason, especially if they let Bobby Portis walk in free agency.

Ian Clark, SG

Age: 28
2018-19 team: Pelicans
2018-19 salary: $1.8M
2018-19 stats: 6.7 ppg, 1.6 apg, 1.5 rpg, 0.4 spg, 39.4 FG% (2.5/6.4), 32.7 3PT% (1.1/3.4)

Analysis: Clark wouldn't cost much, especially given he's coming off a down year. He is supposed to be a consistent three-point shooter, at least he was in Golden State. When he hit free agency two years ago, he was coming off a year in which he shot 37.4 percent from three. But since, he has shot just 32.2 percent. The Wizards could take a flier on him much like they did with Jodie Meeks. The Meeks deal didn't work out, but maybe Clark would.

Quinn Cook, PG

Age: 26
2018-19 team: Warriors
2018-19 salary: $1.5M
2018-19 stats: 6.9 ppg, 1.6 apg, 2.1 rpg, 0.3 spg, 46.5 FG% (2.8/5.9), 40.5 3PT% (1.1/2.7)

Analysis: Cook is from the D.C. area and starred at DeMatha High School. He is a 41.8 percent three-point shooter for his career and proved in this year's playoffs he can be counted on in big moments. But there is speculation that he and Kevin Durant want to play together next year and the Wizards don't have a realistic shot at signing the latter. The Wizards, though, could possibly offer Cook a chance to start. Maybe that could help sway him.

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Wizards' John Wall reveals he's about to start jogging in rehab from Achilles injury

Wizards' John Wall reveals he's about to start jogging in rehab from Achilles injury

A couple of weeks ago, John Wall was spotted at a Washington Mystics game with no brace to support his Achilles injury, a sign that his rehab from the injury was moving in the right direction. 

On Monday night at the 2019 NBA Awards, the Wizards point guard gave affirmation that he is indeed continuing to get healthier and stronger.

"I feel great, man," Wall told NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller on the red carpet. "I'm doing a great job with my body, taking care of that."

Specifically, Wall has been able to slowly increase what he can do on his legs. The recovery and rehab for an injury as severe as his is a long road, and the point guard is making sure not to speed up the process and risk hindering the progress. However, he's about to reach a pretty big milestone in the journey during the coming weeks.

"I'm about to start jogging in like two weeks. Just riding the bike, I get to do exercises standing up now, so I don't have to sit down. I'm able to move, do ladder steps, doing those types of things," Wall said. "Just taking my time and progressing and letting everything heal the right way so I don't force myself back and get another injury."

As Wall continues to work to get back on the court, he's had plenty of motivational factors pushing him through some grueling months. His recent string of injuries have left some wondering if he'll still be an elite player when he finally.

He's heard those comments and he's using them to his advantage.

"I'm one of those guys that's very driven by all the hate and all the negative talk I'm getting. Keep it going," Wall said.

"Everybody said I can't be myself, I won't be nowhere near as good again. That's all the other stuff that's going to fuel me. I don't get upset about it, you're entitled to your own opinion. Please keep it going."

The haters have given Wall some extra juice, but so has his son Ace. Spending the offseason getting right has allowed Wall to work in another area of life: fatherhood.

The newest addition to his family has taken his desire for greatness to new heights.

"I've always had that drive that I want to be the greatest. To have a son like that, that's watching everything I can do. Even though he doesn't understand what's going on, he's putting memories in his head," Wall said. 

"So that gives me extra, extra motivation to another level I never thought I could. Like I said before, that's the best blessing a man could ever ask for is to have a son."

While Wall's offseason has been a busy one as he juggles rehab and being a dad, he's still been very involved in everything going on inside the franchise.

He's already chatted with first-round draft pick Rui Hachimura, and is excited for what is to come for the Wizards. Wall is also hoping that Hachimura will help improve his Japanese so that he can grow a larger following internationally. 

As the calendar slowly turns to July, both Wall and the Wizards' offseasons will ramp up. It's been an up and down time for both lately, but he's excited about the future.

"I think it's good," Wall said about the Wizards situation. "We added some pieces. See what we do in free agency to add some guys to bring back or we're going to go after somebody new. I think we'll be fine."

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