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Once again, John Wall, Bradley Beal, Wizards look ahead after 2nd-round exit

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WASHINGTON (AP) — For the third time in four seasons, John Wall and Bradley Beal exited the playoffs in the second round, extending the Washington Wizards’ nearly four-decade drought without a conference finals appearance.

“It feels a little different, but a little bit of the same. It’s kind of like I’m tired of being in this situation. I’m tired of losing in the second round. I’m kind of at that point now,” Beal said Tuesday, about 15 hours after Washington was eliminated with a Game 7 loss to the Boston Celtics.

“I felt like we were right there,” he added. “That’s the worst thing, especially about the day after.”

Still, it’s primarily because of backcourt mates Wall and Beal that the Wizards do have reason to look on the bright side after winning only a single playoff series.

“Obviously, having those two guys on the team, like Brad and John,” center Marcin Gortat said, “we’re always going to have expectations.”

This season began with a new coach – Scott Brooks replaced Randy Wittman, who was fired after missing the playoffs a year ago – and with questions about the chemistry between Wall and Beal. It also started with a 2-8 record.

But Washington turned things around, thriving at times under Brooks and finishing with 49 wins, and its guard tandem could smile Tuesday while discussing the perceived rift between them.

“It didn’t do anything but make our friendship and brotherhood become more tight,” Wall said.

As for where they need to improve, Wall sounded a note he’s hit after past postseason exits.

“I’m tired of saying the same thing,” the four-time All-Star said, “but we’ve got to do a better job of closing out games.”

Beal wants this season’s ultimate disappointment to fuel the Wizards for the future.

“For sure, I’m confident in our team. … It’s on to getting better this offseason. And next season, it’ll be totally different,” Beal said. “We’ve got to remember that feeling that we have now and be better next year.”

Here are other things to know about the Wizards as they head into the offseason:

GORTAT’S FIT

Gortat tends to speak his mind and did so again Tuesday, raising the possibility that he might wind up elsewhere despite still being under contract with the Wizards. “I’m just going to sit down in the summer and talk to my agent, talk to my people, my closest people,” he said, “and I’m going to analyze if this is the right fit.”

A couple of other nuggets from him:

– About his critics, “I know there’s a lot of freaking idiots looking directly at the column with the points, telling me that, `You scored only four or six points; team lost because of you.”‘

– About his position’s place in today’s NBA, “Nobody respects centers anymore. Nobody looks at them as a valuable piece.”

– About the way the season ended, “Yeah, we could say `If, if, if, if.’ There’s a lot of `if.”‘

PORTER’S PATH

One key question is whether restricted free agent Otto Porter Jr. will return to his only NBA team. He didn’t shed any light on the matter, saying, “I haven’t really thought about that yet.”

BROOKS REVIEW

Brooks received glowing praise from players after Year 1 of his five-year, $35 million contract. “As a team, we respect him, we respect how he coaches, the way he does and how he is as a person, outside of coaching,” Beal said. “I loved him. He granted everybody confidence, freedom, on both ends of the floor.”

INJURIES

Reserve forward Kelly Oubre Jr. said that he had an MRI exam last week on his injured right knee but did not want to hear the results, so he doesn’t know if he will need offseason surgery. Backup center Ian Mahinmi, who missed a chunk of the regular season with a knee problem and the start of the playoffs because of a calf issue, said he is not sure whether he might need any sort of procedure now that the season is over.

 

Watch Stephen Curry make fun of Klay Thompson’s 360 dunk fail in China

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By now we have all seen Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson brick that dunk attempt in China, right?

Here is the link to the video if you haven’t seen it.

Well, teammate Stephen Curry was also in China this week and decided to do a little mocking of Thompson’s missed dunk for the crowd.

It was all in good fun, and of course we all know about the Warriors team culture. Glad that Curry and Thompson can jab at each other like this.

Pistons sign Luis Montero to two-way contract

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) The Detroit Pistons have signed Luis Montero to a two-way contract.

The team announced the deal Monday. The 6-foot-7 Montero played 49 games last season for the Sioux Falls Skyforce and Reno Bighorns of the NBA G League. He played in 12 NBA games with the Portland Trail Blazers in 2015-16, averaging 1.2 points, 0.3 rebounds and 0.1 assists.

NBA teams are allowed two two-way players on their roster at any time, in addition to the 15-man, regular-season roster.

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

LeBron James reportedly so frustrated with Kyrie Irving he is “tempted to beat his ass”

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Anyone else getting weary of the spin wars between the Kyrie Irving and LeBron James camps?

Irving thinks LeBron and his camp leaked the trade report and are trying to drag his good name through the mud. LeBron  — the man who led the way in teaching other players they should take control of their destiny and where they play — is angry that a player took control of his how destiny and is about to leave him high and dry. Right now both sides are trying to control the story — does Irving really envy Damian Lillard and John Wall‘s roles over his own, or is that spin? —  while fans come up with trade proposals. (No, a Kyrie for Carmelo Anthony trade is not happening.)

About the only thing that is clear is that this relationship is beyond repair. As evidence, we bring you the latest bit of spin, this from Stephen A. Smith’s “sources” as he spelled out on his radio show, (those sources are almost certainly are in the LeBron camp).

The full quote was: “If Kyrie Irving was in front of LeBron James right now, LeBron James would be tempted to beat his ass.”

I imagine if they were face-to-face right now it would look like every other NBA “fight” — they would push each other then make sure other guys jumped between them and held them apart so they could jaw but not actually have to throw a punch.

And yes, I know it’s Smith and we should take what he says with a full box of Morton’s Kosher Salt, but he illustrates a point:

Right now, the fight between Kyrie and LeBron is the sides trying to control the narrative.

No doubt LeBron is frustrated, he is in the legacy building part of his career and the Cavaliers were the consensus best team in the East with a shot at a ring next season. No Kyrie — almost no matter who Cleveland gets back in a trade — means the Cavs take a step back (while the Warriors and every other team in contention got better).  LeBron feels hurt and a little betrayed and is spinning that.

Irving is within his rights to ask out. There are certainly a variety of reasons he wants out, but at the top of the list is he wanted to control his own destiny before LeBron left next summer (probably) and Kyrie was left as the star on a team built to go around LeBron. Not that Cleveland did anything wrong, that is exactly the kind of team the Cavaliers should have built, LeBron will go down as an All-Time top 5 player, and this team brought Cleveland its first ring in 54 years. That doesn’t mean Irving can’t read the writing on the wall and want out.

For now, the drama will not stop between these two — nor will the spinning.

Timberwolves put out “0 for 30” video featuring Dave Chappelle missing a lot of jumpers

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The Minnesota Timberwolves are doing some work on their home arena, the Target Center, and it just so happens they had a special brick layer that got them started in 2013.

That extra helper was none other than comedian Dave Chappelle.

The team released a video on their social media platforms this week featuring Chappelle taking a bunch of jumpers on their floor in 2013. With a shot form somewhere between Shawn Marion and Stephen Curry, Chappelle wasn’t exactly a long range gunner.

Via Twitter:

I mean, it seems a little ridiculous to put up a video of the guy from four years ago hitting bricks and equating that to helping you remodel your home arena, but I feel like Chappelle can probably take it.

Either way, good work by the social team over in Minnesota.