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Wizards address major need for three-point shooting by trading for Davis Bertans

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Wizards address major need for three-point shooting by trading for Davis Bertans

LAS VEGAS -- After trading Otto Porter Jr. in February and letting Bobby Portis walk in free agency, the Wizards were left with a glaring need for outside shooting in an era where three-pointers have never been more important. But in the last 24 hours, the team has made a pair of moves to shore up that weakness in a major way.

On Friday, they traded for veteran forward C.J. Miles. And on Saturday, they brought in Davis Bertans in a deal with the San Antonio Spurs. 

Miles has some question marks because his percentages have dropped off in recent years. Bertans, though, comes to Washington as a certified sniper. He is legitimately one of the best three-point shooting big men in the NBA.

A three-year NBA vet, Bertans holds a 40.4 three-point percentage for his career. Last season, he knocked down 42.9 percent on 4.4 attempts per game.

Only seven players shot at least that clip on as many attempts per game. Meyers Leonard is the only other big man.

Bertans, 26, is arguably now the Wizards' most consistent outside shooter. He can't create his own shot like Bradley Beal can, but he makes threes at a higher clip.

Bertans could slide right into the Wizards' starting lineup. He would work nicely next to Thomas Bryant at power forward. They wouldn't be able to do much on defense, but they would provide a lot of spacing on offense.

With Mo Wagner also in the mix, the Wizards now have three big men who can knock down threes, all Age 26 or younger. There is also rookie Rui Hachimura, who projects as a stretch-four at the next level.

Speaking of Hachimura and Wagner, Bertans helps take some pressure off them to contribute big minutes right away. And given Bertans will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, he may not stand in their way for long.

Here's how the Wizards' rotation could stack up as of now:

PG - Ish Smith
SG - Bradley Beal
SF - C.J. Miles
PF - Davis Bertans
C - Thomas Bryant

Key bench players: F Rui Hachimura, G Isaiah Thomas, G Jordan McRae, G/F Troy Brown Jr., C Mo Wagner

That's not bad. It probably won't get them to the playoffs because of defensive limitations, but they could be a competitive group with long-term upside. 

There is also a bit of a drop-off at point guard, but the Wizards have Wall returning possibly by the end of the 2019-20 season. When he comes back, he will have a lot of shooters to pass to.

The Wizards could spread the floor with Beal, Miles, Bertans, and Bryant while Wall dribbles through traffic looking for whoever is open. Wall isn't great from the three-point line, but the best way to mitigate that is by surrounding him with shooters. It's a tactic that worked really well with the Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo this last season.

Wall hasn't often enjoyed a big man who can hit threes. Now he has several of them.

Getting Bertans was another minor, but smart move by the Wizards this offseason. Once again, their future looks a little bit more promising.

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Today in tournament history: Moe Wagner leads Michigan over Loyola Chicago in the 2018 Final Four

Today in tournament history: Moe Wagner leads Michigan over Loyola Chicago in the 2018 Final Four

Moe Wagner had an outstanding 2018 NCAA Tournament. But after advancing past the Elite Eight, he and the Michigan Wolverines faced their toughest test yet.

Sister Jean and the 11-seeded Loyola-Chicago Ramblers.

Wagner threw a friendly jab at the underdog's 98-year-old school chaplain before the two programs squared off with a shot at the national championship on the line.

Sister Jean, who had more trash-talking experience than the Wolverines' starting five combined, wasn't going to go easy on the Ramblers' Final Four opponent.

Jean's comments must've shaken Michigan before tip-off.

After the ref tipped the ball off to start the first half, it was all Ramblers.

Loyola-Chicago tied up the ballgame at 15-apiece with 5:56 to go in the first half and controlled the game. 

Wagner carried the scoring load in the first half (11 points on 5-for-8 shooting, 1-for-2 from three), but his teammates went a combined 4-23 from the field.

The Ramblers coasted into the halftime break, leading 29-22, despite Wagner controlling the glass with 11 boards, giving him a first-half double-double.

The second half was a different story. 

Michigan cut the Ramblers lead to six with 11:19 to go in regulation and didn't look back.

As crunch time approached, Loyola had no answer for Wagner. 

The Wolverines center was in the zone, out-scoring the Ramblers 11-4 by himself during a four-minute stretch late in the second half. 

From that point on, with an eight-point lead and just 3:03 to go in regulation, Loyola's season was slowly slipping away.

John Beilein's squad would close out on a 10-6 run to take down the Ramblers.

Despite the loss, Sister Jean was all-class, taking the defeat like a champ, as Loyola-Chicago's improbable tourney run had come to an end.

Wagner finished the game with 24 points and 15 rebounds, and singlehandedly catapulted his squad to the national championship game.

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Jordan McRae predicted his own trade from the Wizards, sort of

Jordan McRae predicted his own trade from the Wizards, sort of

During his time in Washington, Jordan McRae was known for getting buckets and for his great sense of humor. However, nobody was aware of McRae's fortune-telling ability.

When a trade at the deadline sent McRae to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Shabazz Napier, McRae had joked about the possibility in the locker room just moments before he found out. 

"I'm in the locker room that day saying, 'Hey man, somebody isn't going to be here at the end of the day,'" McRae told NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller on the latest episode of the Wizards Talk podcast. "Then Troy looks at me and says, 'It might be you.'

"Then I say, 'It might be me, I'm including myself.'"

He was right. 

LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW ON THE WIZARDS TALK PODCAST

"I practiced that day, it was a good practice," McRae said. "I actually stayed really long that day too. I happened to get treatment, I was talking to Sashi [Brown]."

"Then I was outside the building on the phone and someone else was calling me -- it was Tommy [Shepphard]." 

McRae was in the midst of having the best season of his career in Washington. Averaging 12.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.8 assists all marked career highs for him and assisted the Wizards in one of the top-scoring offenses in the NBA.  

"Denver was nice, it was cool, but it came to a point when the coach and GM said 'hey, this year you're not really going to play,'" McRae said. "At this stage of my career, and the season I'm having, I would just prefer to have a buyout.

"I'm having the best season I've had. I'm not willing to wait, and I'm a free agent."

All jokes aside, the McRae trade was a bit of a surprise due to his production, leadership and locker room presence. McRae, however, took the move in stride.

"I would have never thought I'd be on three teams in one year," McRae said. "But I chose Detroit because they're in a rebuilding phase and it's always good to go to a team that wants you."

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