Markieff Morris

Associated Press

Wizards’ Markieff Morris to have sports hernia surgery, miss start of camp

Leave a comment

When the Washington Wizards open training camp next Tuesday, starting forward Markieff Morris will not be on the court.

That’s because he will have surgery to repair a sports hernia, a story broken by Candice Buckner of the Washington Post and since confirmed by Chase Hughes at CSNMidAtlantic.com.

While we don’t have details on the surgery, often recovery time for this is just a few weeks, and Morris could well be ready for the start of the season.

Morris averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds a game last season, and the Wizards offense was 5.7 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court last season. With him out, coach Scott Brooks can lean on Jason Smith or Mike Scott for traditional lineups, but don’t be shocked if he tries a little small ball with Otto Porter and/or Kelly Oubre at the three or four.

Morris also is in the midst of a felony assault trial in Arizona (one where he does not need to attend).

Report: Wizards signing Mike Scott

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
1 Comment

As they wait out Otto Porter – the productive small forward who’s exploring restricted free agency – the Wizards are still filling out their bench.

Washington’s latest addition: Mike Scott.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Scott and his brother arrested during a 2015 traffic stop, and drugs were found in their car. Scott admitted the drugs were his, but a judge threw out the charges amid evidence the police officer racially profiled Scott. Though it seems the legal system honored Scott’s constitutional protections in the end, NBA teams were free to make their own judgments. Washington apparently considers him worthy of employment.

Unlike previous additions (Tim Frazier and Jodie Meeks), Scott doesn’t really add to the Wizards’ projected payroll, which could eclipse the luxury-tax line with Porter. They still needed to fill out their roster, and minimum-salary players are the cheapest way to do so.

Scott is a stretch four, not really a change of pace from Markieff Morris. But those types of players present value – especially if Scott gets back on track after a long two years.

Marcin Gortat sees writing on the wall about trade from Wizards

Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Wizards’ with the highest salaries for next season – if they re-sign Otto Porter, as they’ve repeatedly said they will – are slated to be:

That’s a point guard, a shooting guard, a small forward, a power forward and three centers.

Even Washington’s starting center, Gortat, can see where the bloat is.

Candace Buckner of The Washington Post:

Gortat, via J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic:

I’m the oldest guy on the team,” Gortat said during exit interviews. “I know how the business works. I’m the oldest guy on the team. They signed Ian also. He’s younger than me and he got a longer contract. I just know how the business works so I’m prepared for everything just in case. We’re going to talk. I’m going to talk to Ernie (Grunfeld). I’m going to talk to managment and we’re going to figure it out.”

Keeping Porter, who could command a max salary in restricted free agency, would push the Wizards near the luxury-tax line. Dumping the 33-year-old Gortat this summer to dodge the tax might have been the intended plan.

Gortat has two years and more than $26 million left on his contract, and he’s likely to decline. This could be the right time to sell.

But his replacement would be Mahinmi, who’s 30 and spent most of the year injured. He doesn’t look ready to assume a major role on a team knocking on the door of the conference finals.

Potential trade partners also understand Gortat’s aging curve. There also isn’t much demand for centers in a league where size has been deemphasized and most teams already have at least one starting-caliber center.

Gortat is still Washington’s best player at the position. Keeping him might not be ideal, but unless Mahinmi looks much more physically capable by next fall, it might be the Wizards’ best option, though they’d be forced to duck the tax with other moves.

Too much Kelly Olynyk, Celtics depth for Wizards in Game 7, Boston wins 115-105

Getty Images
11 Comments

It became a game about depth.

Washington led in the third quarter when coach Scott Brooks had to turn to his bench. Jason Smith was -10 in just over three minutes, the Celtics closed the third quarter on a run that extended to an 18-2 run into the start of the fourth and gave then a comfortable lead. John Wall missed his last nine shots and was scoreless in the fourth, in large part because his legs got tired, Brooks couldn’t trust Brandon Jennings again (after a horrible first half) and tried to ride his backcourt the entire second half.

Meanwhile, Kelly Olynyk came in and dropped 26 off the bench, 14 of those in the fourth quarter, and changed the game.

“They was paying a lot of attention to Isaiah (Thomas), teams are gonna do that, and he got rid of the ball quickly and put us in a position to make plays in 4-on-3 basketball,” Olynyk said after the game.

Boston got 29 points and 12 assists from Isaiah Thomas and 48 from its bench — including reserves Olynyk and Marcus Smart making plays down the stretch — and that was enough beat the Wizards 115-105 in Game 7.

Boston advances and will host Cleveland in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday.

Washington’s starting five — Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris, Marcin Gortat — were +9 in 32 minutes, with a true shooting percentage of 62.3.

But as it has been the case since the start of the year, the Wizards bench could not be trusted. Any lineup with at least one bench player on the court combined to be -19 in 16 minutes. No player from the Wizards bench scored after 6:56 of the 2nd quarter.

Boston, on the other hand, had a bench that won them the game.

“I think the bench was a big factor in Game 5 (a Boston win at home) and Game 7 certainly was as well,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “Throughout the series, the home team’s bench seemed to play really well. I thought our guys played really well. Obviously, Kelly gave us that enormous lift of scoring in the fourth quarter, but really in the first half as well, he had 12 at halftime on 5-of-7, and I thought Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart were really good.”

The game certainly was dramatic, and it had the Celtics fans in full throat most of the game. The first quarter was a yo-yo affair, the Celtics got up 8, and then the Wizards came back to tie it, the Celtics went back up by 7, and the Wizards tied it again. It ended with the Celtics up four. The second quarter stayed closer throughout. The Wizards bench defensive rotations were sad, which helped Olynyk get clean looks. On the other side Otto Porter, who had been scoreless in Game 6, had  12 points and 7 boards in the first half (he finished with 20 and 9).

Boston’s biggest problem was being 3-of-12 from three in first half, and that allowed the Wizards to have a 55-53 lead at the half.

Wizards started second half just hunting Thomas, something they didn’t do enough in this series. Whoever he is guarding, the Wizards tried to post him up. Washington’s starters played well and the Wizards led much of the third, but late in the third the bench came in — Smith blew a defensive coverage within seconds of entering the game — and Boston closed the quarter on a 13-3 run to lead 85-79 after three. Boston hit four of its last six from three, and that helped change the dynamic.

That run extended to 18-2 over four minutes across the quarters for the Celtics. Washington went back to their starters around the 10-minute mark, and quickly it was a 7-0 Wizards run.

But the Wizards could never fully close the gap (they did get it to four). Olynyk and Thomas made plays for Boston, while Beal and Wall’s legs turned to jelly.

It was another step forward for a young and improving Celtics team. They should savor it.

For a day, then the biggest test comes to town.

 

 

Suns didn’t draft Kawhi Leonard, in part, because he sweated too much during interview

7 Comments

A snapshot of the 2011 NBA draft:

The Morrii have had nice careers, but why did Phoenix pass on Leonard, who has become one of the NBA’s best players?

Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic (hat tip: Scott Howard):

But with a front office conducting its first draft in Phoenix, then-General Manager Lance Blanks’ staff did not have Leonard in the discussion. Part of the Suns’ knock on Leonard, beyond his perimeter shot, was how nervously he acted in a draft combine interview, when he sweated through his suit.

That’s from a 2015 article, but the humor and lesson are lasting.

Teams sometimes drive themselves crazy in the pre-draft process by overanalyzing players. Interviews are important, but like every factor, nobody should overreact to them.

The Spurs didn’t see a sweaty wreck. They saw a good defender with potential to develop offensively and the diligence to work at his craft. And they were very right.