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Feb
10

Addition Of Kristaps Porzingis Makes Wizards Interesting Again

Up until about 2:30 p.m., it looked like Bradley Beal’s season-ending wrist injury would leave the Wizards with the same roster that had lost 26 of its last 40 games.

But sometimes, deadlines create an increased level of urgency.

Minutes before the 3 p.m. buzzer sounded, Washington agreed to send point guard Spencer Dinwiddie and power forward Davis Bertans to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for forward/center Kristaps Porzingis. General manager Tommy Sheppard found a suitor for his team’s two least tradable contracts without attaching draft picks to them, while acquiring a valuable player.

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Feb
06

What Will Wizards Do At Trade Deadline? What Should They Do?

It’s been a strange, disappointing season for the Washington Wizards. With a five-year, $242 million new contract potentially looming this offseason, Bradley Beal hasn’t been able to elevate the Washington Wizards to a top six record in the Eastern Conference so far this season. By his own admission, another play-in game appearance would be a step backwards.

With the NBA Trade Deadline coming up on Thursday, February 10 at 3 p.m., the Washington Wizards, and President and General Manager Tommy Sheppard (right), have multiple decisions to make. Do they want to push forward for a playoff spot, or is it time to start over? Who amongst the plethora of young players on the roster should be retained as foundational pieces going forward? Who could be moved on from for something of greater value?

The Roadmap For A Rebuild

If the Wizards were to “blow it up” – which is what a lot of Wizards fans want, they’d have to do so delicately. Realistically, the organization will want to keep Beal, and Beal will also want to get paid as much as he can get (which by league rules, can only happen if he re-signs in Washington).

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Jul
30

Wizards Start Anew With Kispert, Without Westbrook

The focus Thursday night was supposed to be the NBA Draft.

The Lakers, however, wouldn’t allow it, and their activity kicked off a wild night for the Washington Wizards. 

When the Wizards moved on from Scott Brooks, it felt like changes were imminent at the top of their roster, with the biggest question entering this offseason being whether they’d trade for a third star player, stand pat, or enter a rebuilding era.

The selection of Wes Unseld Jr. as Washington’s new head coach signaled that the organization was leaning closer to the latter than the former, with nothing being certain yet. But Thursday night, as the NBA Draft was just beginning, we got an answer, as the Wizards agreed to trade point guard Russell Westbrook to the Lakers.

The deal in its entirety – which is still subject to league approval – includes Westbrook and second-round picks in 2024 and 2028 going to the Lakers in exchange for 3&D wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, forward Kyle Kuzma, postman Montrezl Harrell and this year’s No. 22 overall pick.

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Jul
17

Unseld Jr. Named Wizards HC, Hopes to Write Own Legacy

It’s been a long wait, but the Wizards have finally chosen their next head coach.

Tommy Sheppard and company have finalized a four-year contract agreement with Wes Unseld Jr. – the son of one of the best players in franchise history. Unseld will be formally introduced as head coach in a press conference on Monday at 3:30 p.m. ET. 

It’s often difficult for NBA fans to know how qualified a first-time head coach is. Media narratives – and particularly the ideas that become popular on social media – can be misleading. That seems particularly true for Unseld, who is much more than his father’s son.

Credentials

Although the young Unseld has never been a head coach, he’s been an assistant for 16 years, and his NBA experience began long before that.

At the conclusion of his four-year playing career at Johns Hopkins, he joined Washington’s organization as a scout – serving under his father, who was the General Manager.

After eight years in his role of personnel and advance scouting, Unseld was promoted to assistant coach, a role in which he stayed from 2005–11. He initially served under Eddie Jordan, followed by Ed Tapscott (interim) and Flip Saunders. Throughout much of his time in Washington (including as a scout), he was credited with formulating the team’s offensive game plan. He also held a secondary coaching/scouting role with the Mystics of the WNBA.

When the Wizards opted to not promote him to a higher assistant position, Unseld departed to join the Golden State Warriors staff. He was on Mark Jackson’s first season at the helm – the first, strike-shortened year of the “Splash Brothers” era (Steph Curry and Klay Thompson).

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Jul
05

Decision Day Is Rapidly Approaching For DC Teams

Two teams in Washington find themselves reaching a critical point toward the future of their organizations.

The Nationals are in the midst of a tough seven-game West Coast road trip, after having lost four straight home games to the Dodgers. And of course, they’re also riddled with injuries

As for the Wizards, the NBA Draft is drawing near, but they haven’t hired a new head coach yet. It’s tough to imagine they’ll let this drag out much longer, but it isn’t entirely clear what direction they’re leaning.

The National Disaster

Let’s start with some quick good news: Kyle Schwarber, Trea Turner and Juan Soto were each named first-time All-Stars earlier this weekend. Max Scherzer was a noticeable omission, despite posting a 7-4 record, 2.10 ERA and 127 strikeouts through his first 16 starts of this season. Keep in mind there is a rule that grants every team in the league at least one All-Star, and the benefactors from that stipulation were disproportionally pitchers. Taking them (particularly German Marquez of the Rockies) out of the equation, Scherzer’s “snub” isn’t egregious, and he’ll certainly make his way onto the roster – as either an injury replacement or a substitute for someone who pitches the day before the All-Star break, which a couple guys always do.

Now for the on-field stuff: As discussed late last week, the injury rat – as Scherzer so eloquently described it – has struck the Nationals, and it feels like it’s still hiding somewhere in the attic. Schwarber and backup catcher Alex Avila were both placed on the 10-day Injured List, and Washington was forced to turn to Yadiel Hernandez, Tres Barrera and journeyman shortstop Alcides Escobar – who started in place of Trea Turner (finger) after being acquired from the Kansas City Royals and replacing Humberto Arteaga (designated for assignment) on the active roster.

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Jun
27

Morrison, Mosley Emerge As Candidates For Wizards HC

So far, four NBA teams have hired a new head coach since their seasons ended.

The Washington Wizards, on the other hand, have been fairly quiet since moving on from Scott Brooks.

That was true until Friday. With Ime Udoka, Rick Carlisle, Jason Kidd and Chauncey Billups – all of whom were among my initial candidates for the job in Washington – each agreeing to terms as head coaches with other teams, the Wizards have reportedly ramped up their search. Scott Morrison of the Boston Celtics has interviewed with Washington (first reported by Peter Yannopoulos of Réseau des sports in Canada), and Jamahl Mosley (pictured at right) of the Dallas Mavericks has also received an interview request (per Marc Stein of The New York Times).

As recently as Wednesday, Sports Betting Dime viewed Sam Cassell, Wes Unseld Jr. and Kenny Atkinson as the frontrunners for the Wizards.

Interestingly, their odds closely resemble my initial predictions. Their top four were my finalists, and the only coach they included that I did not was Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing, a heavy long shot for the job.

This, however, was prior to the release of the news regarding Morrison and Mosley. It’s not entirely clear how seriously they are being considered, but the fact that they have received interviews should not be cast aside.

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Jun
20

Who Will Replace Scott Brooks As Wizards Head Coach?

After two weeks of pondering which direction to go, the Wizards finally decided to move on from head coach Scott Brooks.

Now comes the hard part: Who do the Wizards replace him with?

At this stage, the team hasn’t offered a list of candidates to replace Brooks. My impression is that they want to undergo a thorough interview process before deciding on anyone – or even narrowing the field considerably.

When it comes to predicting who the next coach might be, all I can do is guess. So, rather than guessing, I’ll offer up what I believe to be a fairly all-inclusive list of any possibilities.

Once the team provides any clarity on who they’re most interested in, I will provide any and all updates.

Kenny Atkinson

Playing Career: 14 seasons (mostly overseas)

Coaching Career: Paris assistant (2004–06), New York Knicks assistant (2008–12), Atlanta Hawks assistant (2012–16), Brooklyn Nets head coach (2016–20), Los Angeles Clippers assistant (2020–present)

Profile: For four years, Atkinson was the head coach of the Nets. Although his win/loss record as their leader was less than desirable at face value, the roster he was working with didn’t have much talent. Player development is considered a strength for Atkinson, and it showed itself in his third season at the helm in Brooklyn, when he guided the D’Angelo Russell-led Nets to a 42–40 season and the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Currently, Atkinson is an assistant under Tyronn Lue with the Clippers. How far they go this postseason may dictate how much attention Atkinson gets. However, he’s definitely qualified. It wouldn’t hurt the Wizards’ potential pursuit of Clippers forward Paul George, either.

Prediction: Gets an interview, dark horse for the job

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Jun
03

With End Comes Potential New Beginning For Wizards

The Wizards fell rather helplessly to the Philadelphia 76ers Wednesday night, 129-112, thus commencing what could be their most make-or-break offseason in quite some time. There are a handful of extremely important decisions they must make – not only in order to progress entering next season, but also to address the long-term state of the franchise.

The status quo clearly only gets the Wizards so far. At best, it’s led to them fighting to squeeze their way into the playoffs. At worst, over the last two or three years, they’ve often looked like one of the least competitive teams in the Eastern Conference – even in spite of their top-end talent.

The Wizards had an end-of-season press conference – more like a post mortem– this morning, and they said a lot of the right things. However, there was no clarity in terms of which lane they want to ride in. They supposedly don’t want to stand pat, but their actions will speak louder than their words.

The decisions that lie on the horizon are quite clear, but the ways in which they are addressed will likely lead the team in two very different directions.

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May
22

Wizards Survive the Play-In Round, Prepare for the 76ers

Usually when you win the No. 1 seed, your opening-round opponent should be an easy matchup.

That may not be the case for the Philadelphia 76ers Sunday when they face Washington, as the Wizards have some pieces that could make this series more interesting than most No. 1 vs. No. 8 matchups. Sure, the Wizards lost convincingly to the Boston Celtics Tuesday night, and the Philadelphia 76ers are better than the Celtics. However, they also blew out the Indiana Pacers on Thursday to advance to this round.

Recap of Previous Action

Neither of those outcomes should’ve been incredibly surprising. Three-level scoring forwards who can also create their own shots and move their feet always give the Wizards trouble. They had no answer on defense for Jayson Tatum, which resulted in him scoring 50 points against them. They also don’t have anyone who’s particularly equipped to contain as dynamic of a point guard as Kemba Walker, who knocked down six three-point shots and scored 29 points.

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May
16

It Wasn't Just A Good Weekend. It Was A Great Weekend.

As sports weekends go in the Nation's Capital, local teams may have just finished a rare great one.

Think about it. The Capitals won an opening-round Stanley Cup playoff game. The Wizards rallied to win and clinch an 8th-seed in the NBA playoffs. The Nationals won a series on the road. Plus the Mystics opened their season, DC United took to the pitch, and even the Washington Football Team and Hokies down in Blacksburg had an eventful last few days.

Not  bad. Not bad at all. Here are the details:

Capitals Win A Postseason Thriller

Caps fans had their hearts in their throats early when starting goaltender Vitek Vanecek left in the first quarter due to injury, leaving the game in Craig Anderson’s hands. Anderson only had two starts this season, his last win was in May of 2017, and while they said he was 39, it was just barely. He'll be 40 this week. So on top of concerns for injuries to TJ Oshie and the return of Alexander Ovechkin from injury, Caps fans had plenty to worry about.

But soon after realizing Anderson was even on the team, Caps fans realized they were seeing a calm, experienced goaltender who kept the Boston Bruins in check. Tom Wilson scored the game’s opening goal, showing he can score AND fight, then Jake DeBrusk responded – which was also the play on which Vanecek left with an injury. The call-and-respond action continued in the second period, when Brendan Dillon and Nick Ritchie traded goals, and the teams held each other scoreless throughout the rest of regulation.

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Ricky LaBlue

Ricky LaBlue

A longtime sports fanatic, Ricky is now channeling that passion into the world of sports media. Meet Ricky LaBlue.

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Stephen Newman

The only things he loves more than following Virginia Tech and Washington sports teams are dogs. Meet Stephen Newman.

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