Wizards coach “wants to believe” they can make playoffs

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Randy Wittman earned the job as Wizards head coach. He took over for Flip Saunders in the middle of last season and the Wizards improved under him. Improved enough that the Wizards ownership took the interim tag off and kept him.

So what are his plans for next season in Washington?

Make the playoffs. That’s what he told Michael Lee of the Washington Post.

“We want to take the next step and what we kind of did as the year progressed and Nene coming over here at the trade deadline and our improvement from the defensive standpoint. That’s got to be a main focus for us to get better and better defensively….

“You always want to believe in the playoffs. I think, you’re always striving for that. We’ve got to go out and we’ve got a tough start to the schedule and that’s going to be one of my main emphases with our guys is going into camp and understanding that, when we come out, we’re going to go on the road a lot and we’ve got to be ready for that. We’ve got to be ready for a good start and keep that momentum that we have.”

Washington has upgraded its roster and the playoffs are a possibility.

But it really doesn’t come down to Wittman. It comes down to John Wall. He has talked about taking the next step forward, about living up to his elite point guard potential. This is the year he has to do it. If he does, the Wizards are a playoff team. If not, they are not.

Jason Williams out 6-8 months after injury in Big3 debut

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NEW YORK (AP) — Former NBA point guard Jason Williams will miss six to eight months after suffering a knee injury in the opening game of the Big3.

Corey Maggette, also injured in the opening week of Ice Cube’s 3-on-3 league of former NBA players, had surgery for a leg injury. There is no timetable for his return.

The injuries were announced Wednesday during a conference call with Cube and Big3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz, who also detailed a couple rules changes starting with this weekend’s game in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Games will be played to 50 points, instead of 60, with halftime coming when the first team reaches 25 points. Cube said that would help the four games per day move more quickly.

Report: Mutual interest between Knicks, Jeff Teague with Phil Jackson gone

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Phil Jackson’s exit is already opening doors for the Knicks.

No position differs more in the triangle from modern spread NBA offenses than point guard. But without Jackson demanding his point guard fit such a narrow profile, New York can pursue greater talents – like Jeff Teague.

Ian Begley of ESPN:

With Phil Jackson out and the triangle de-emphasized, the Knicks, under general manager Steve Mills, have interest in free agent point guard Jeff Teague, league sources told ESPN. League sources say the interest in Teague is mutual.

The Knicks aren’t as desperate at point guard after drafting Frank Ntilikina, but Ntilikina probably isn’t ready to run an offense full-time yet. Teague could be a stopgap – which might be necessary considering New York can’t easily pivot into rebuilding with Carmelo Anthony, Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee locked up.

Teague’s future with the Pacers appears uncertain with Paul George on the trade block. A key part of Larry Bird’s retooling last summer, Teague and Indiana might be headed in different directions now.

The Knicks make as much sense as anywhere for Teague – now that Jackson is gone.

PBT Extra: Rockets, with Chris Paul trade, show fearlessness in face of Warriors’ dominance

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The Rockets and Clippers both turned aggressive with today’s Chris Paul trade.

Houston is making a bold attempt to overtake the Warriors (a plan that could include other big moves). The Clippers are launching into rebuilding.

Kurt Helin breaks down what it means for both teams.

PBT Extra: With Phil Jackson discarded, Knicks face next challenge

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The Knicks did well to part ways with Phil Jackson, but where does New York go from here?

Masai Ujiri? David Griffin? Someone else?

Kurt Helin breaks down Jim Dolan’s options – and the approach the Knicks owner should take.