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Wizards can’t beat Kawhi-less Raptors, limp into All-Star break losers of 7 of 10

Wizards can’t beat Kawhi-less Raptors, limp into All-Star break losers of 7 of 10

The Washington Wizards lost to the Toronto Raptors 129-120 on Wednesday night. Here are five observations from the game:

1. The instinct for some may be to chalk up losses like the one the Wizards suffered in Toronto on Wednesday night as moral victories. Technically, they were competitive against a top-shelf Raptors team and on the road, where the Wizards are especially bad.

But the big picture as they enter the All-Star break is hard to ignore. They have lost five of seven games and seven of their last 10. They now get eight days off to think about it after what has been their worst stretch in nearly two months.

It would have been hard for the Wizards to go into the break on a less encouraging note. Maybe it's for the best they get some time off to reset.

2. Pascal Siakam is officially a problem. The rest of the league has come to learn that this season and now the Wizards are well-aware.

Siakam went off for 44 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. The last time these teams played, he put up 24 points, 19 rebounds, three steals and two blocks.

The Raptors were missing Kawhi Leonard and Fred VanVleet, but they still had more talent than the Wizards. Siakam stepped up and played like an All-Star and Kyle Lowry (14 points, 13 assists) and O.G. Anunoby (22 points) pitched in as well.

The Wizards went 0-4 this season against the Raptors and Leonard didn't play in two of those games. Not good.

3. The third quarter was weird. The Wizards led by six at halftime and pushed that to 12 at the 8:48 mark. Raptors coach Nick Nurse then called a timeout and must have worked some serious coaching magic because his team responded with a 15-0 run to take control.

They kept going. The run grew to 33-9 before the Wizards knocked down some shots at the end of the third. The Raptors outscored the Wizards 44-28 in the frame.

That gave the Raptors a 10-point lead at 103-93 entering the fourth and the Wizards could never fully recover.

4. Jabari Parker had an awful game on Monday against the Pistons. He was held scoreless on a night the Wizards really could have used some production from him on the offensive end.

But Parker bounced back against Toronto and in a big way. By halftime, he had 10 points and seven rebounds. He finished with 22 points, nine rebounds and four assists.

The Wizards need Parker to score more than anything else. That’s what made his dud in Detroit so troubling. But if he can do what he did against the Raptors more often than not, he will fit in just fine in Washington.

It should be noted, however, that Parker had some really bad turnovers. He had four on the night, including one in the second quarter where he just lost the ball out of bounds and another in the fourth where he tried a behind-the-back pass to Wesley Johnson for a corner three that was completely off the mark.


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Wizards new GM Tommy Sheppard called Dwight Howard trade 'quickest trade I've ever done'

Wizards new GM Tommy Sheppard called Dwight Howard trade 'quickest trade I've ever done'

In early July, the Wizards dealt Dwight Howard to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for C.J. Miles. According to an interview with Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, new Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard didn't need much time to move on.

The Howard deal was "the quickest trade I've ever done in my life," Sheppard told Wojnarowski.

It was also a proving ground for Sheppard to show owner Ted Leonsis he could lead a new regime for the Wizards.

"I like [Sheppard's] dexterity to be able to deal with the existing NBA, but to also really look at it as a global enterprise," Leonsis noted.

Howard was signed to the Wizards in 2018 to a two-year, $11 million free-agent deal, and immediately made a lasting impact, including jokes about how he learned to be a Wizard after a circuitous NBA career.

Trading him away was a signal that Sheppard was trying to reset of the Wizards culture.

But since then, Tommy Sheppard has had his interim tag removed to mark him as the new GM of the organization. 

Sheppard's moves before he was named GM included not only the Howard deal, but also leading the Wizards' draft night where they selected Rui Hachimura and Admiral Schofield, as well as signing Isaiah Thomas to a one-year deal.


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Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard plans to offer Bradley Beal 3-year max contract extension, per report

Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard plans to offer Bradley Beal 3-year max contract extension, per report

Tommy Sheppard isn't wasting any time. The Washington Wizards' new general manager said the team will offer All-Star Bradley Beal a three-year, $111 million maximum contract extension Friday, when the guard becomes eligible to sign, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday

Once the offer is made, 26-year-old Beal will have until October 21 to sign the extension, which would begin with the 2021-22 season. He is coming off the best season of his career, averaging 25.6 points, 5.5 assists and five rebounds. 

More from Wojnarowski and ESPN:

There are moments in a career where there are big decisions to make, and Brad will work through everything and figure out the right thing to do," [agent Mark] Bartelstein told ESPN. "There are nothing but great feelings for Ted [Leonsis], Tommy and Scott [Brooks]. They've treated Brad wonderfully.

The news of the planned offer comes three days after NBC Sports Washington confirmed the Wizards are planning to announce Sheppard as the official new GM after months of working under the interim tag. 

The Wizards are also willing to offer Beal a one- or two-year extension as well, and if he passes altogether, the team does not have current plans to trade him, Sheppard told ESPN. 

Beal has two years and $55.8 million left on his contract. Should he be an All-NBA player in the 2019-20 season, he could become eligible for a five-year, $254 million supermax extension at this time next year. Without that stipulation, he's still eligible for a four-year, $155 million max extension next summer.

More per ESPN:

He's got two years left on his deal, and he's from Missouri and we are going to have to show him," Sheppard told ESPN. "We need to show him that we are about building this the right way, that we aren't going to have character-deficient guys around him. We are going to surround him with guys he wants to play with. He saw that right away in free agency with us bringing back Thomas Bryant.