Dan Feldman

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 03:  Bradley Beal #3 of the Washington Wizards reacts after an injury during Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on May 3, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Report: Wizards, after firing trainer, changing approach for injuries

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Randy Wittman lashed into a writer for reporting John Wall clashed with the Wizards’ training staff over handling of his injury.

Well, the Wizards dumped Wittman, and now they’re changing their medical approach.

J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic:

After a disastrous 2015-16 in which they were among the NBA’s most battered and injured teams, the Wizards are heading in a new direction with their athletic training staff and are close to finalizing a new structure that focuses more on the clinical side, league sources tell CSNmidatlantic.com.

Longtime head athletic trainer Eric Waters was fired with one year left on his contract after a 41-41 season in which multiple players were injured and stayed in street clothes for long stretches. A clinical focus would include developing new treatments, therapy, studying trends, taking into account genetics to understand injuries and many other aspectss by having a more specialized medical group rather just a head athletic trainer and an assistant.

What the Wizards did last season didn’t work well. Bradley Beal missed significant time, and several other players were on the shelf for prolonged periods.

But can anyone be certain an alternative approach would’ve worked better? The counterfactual is hard.

Still, Washington will try something new and try to evaluate it. But it’s difficult to separate the new technique from regression to the mean on injury luck.

Report: LeBron James’ new contract contains player option

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 22:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers attends the Cleveland Cavaliers 2016 NBA Championship victory parade and rally on June 22, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
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LeBron James signed a three-year contract worth nearly $100 million, and OF COURSE he got every clause in his favor – including a player option.

Chris Broussard of ESPN:

I bet LeBron also has a no-trade clause and 15% trade kicker, just for posterity.

LeBron’s salaries:

  • 2016-17: $30,963,450
  • 2017-18: $33,285,709
  • 2018-19: $35,607,968 (player option)

Based on the NBA’s latest salary-cap projection, LeBron’s max in 2018-19 would be about $35.5 million. Of course, that’s a relatively rough estimate, because:

1. The league’s projections tend to be conservative.

2. The Collective Bargaining Agreement could change before then, significantly altering the system.

LeBron won’t have to make the call for another couple years, and he’ll have much more information by the time he does. But he has a $35,607,968 salary in the bag and will opt out only if his options look better. That’s a pretty great fallback.

Lithuania pulls away from Argentina in battle of undefeated teams

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 11:  Mindaugas Kuzminskas #19 of Lithuania celebrates after scoring against Nicolas Laprovittola #8 of Argentina during the Men's Basketball - Preliminary Round Group B Lithuania vs Argentina on Day 6 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 1 on August 11, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Mindaugus Kuzminskas scored 23 points and Renaldus Seibutis converted a three-point play and four free throws in the final minute, leading Lithuania to an 81-73 win over Argentina on Thursday night in Olympic men’s basketball.

Mantas Kalnietis added 17 for the Lithuanians, who improved to 3-0 in Group B and delighted their outnumbered but rowdy fans. After blowing a 10-point lead in the third quarter, Lithuania took control with an 8-0 run in the fourth, triggered by a 3-pointer from Jonas Maciulis.

Argentina fought back and closed within 74-71 on a basket by Facundo Campazzo. But Seibutis was fouled while making a layup by Luis Scola, who fouled out on the play. Seibutis knocked down that free throw and four more in the final 18 seconds.

Manu Ginobili scored 22 and Andres Nocioni 14 to lead Argentina, the 2004 gold medalist which suffered its first loss at the Rio Games.

Report: Timberwolves scheduled to make Christmas debut, face Thunder

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 7: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder passes the ball over Tyus Jones #1 and Kevin Garnett #21 of the Minnesota Timberwolves during the first quarter of the preseason game on October 7, 2015 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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In advance of the NBA’s official schedule release, the Christmas slate is coming into focus:

And now: Thunder-Timberwolves.

Dylan Buckingham of NewsChannel 4:

These are a couple intriguing teams. But neither is a playoff lock, and Russell Westbrook is the only clear All-Star on either team. The NBA usually devotes one Christmas game to a couple teams on the verge of making noise. This appears to be it.

The Timberwolves could make a big jump with a talented young core led by Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and Ricky Rubio. Tom Thibodeau will have this team playing hard and defending soundly. This might even be part of a Kevin Garnett retirement tour.

The Thunder will take a step back without Kevin Durant, but that just gives Westbrook more space to be Westbrook. Don’t sleep on his young supporting cast led by Steven Adams and Victor Oladipo, either.

This will be Minnesota’s first Christmas game, leaving the Charlotte Hornets and Memphis Grizzlies as the only teams that have never played on Dec. 25.

Bojan Bogdanovic scores 2016 Olympic-high 33 points to lift Croatia over Brazil

Croatia's Bojan Bogdanovic (44) drives to the basket against Brazil's Augusto Lima (23) during a men's basketball game at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
AP Photo/Eric Gay

It might have gotten lost in the Nets’ miserable season, but Bojan Bogdanovic sure can score.

His points haven’t been overlooked in the Olympics.

Bogdanovic scored 33 points, the most by anyone in a Rio game, to lead Croatia to an 80-76 win over Brazil on Thursday. The pivotal contest gives Croatia a significant leg up in qualifying for the knockout stage from Group B.

Croatia (2-1) will be tied with the Argentina-Lithuania (streaming here at 9:30 p.m. Eastern) loser for second in the group at the end of the day. Brazil (1-2) will be tied with the Spain-Nigeria (streaming here at 6 p.m. Eastern) winner for fourth.

The top four teams advance, meaning at least one of Argentina, Lithuania, Croatia, Brazil and Spain won’t. Though Croatia and Brazil have both beaten Spain, the Spaniards entered Rio a medal favorite. Nobody is ready to write them off like, say, fellow 0-2 Nigeria.

Who could Spain bump from the the top four?

Thanks to Bogdanovic, it probably won’t be Croatia.

Bogdanovic topped Carmelo Anthony‘s 31 points against Australia by shooting 10-of-16 from the field, including 3-of-6 on 3-pointers.  Averaging 24.7, Bogdanovic ranks second to Australia’s Patty Mills (25.7) in points per game.

76ers rookie Dario Saric provided plenty of support with 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists. He knocked down spot-up shots from the perimeter, comfortably put the ball on the floor and defended inside and out. On one play, Saric blocked a shot then quickly threw a full-length pass to set up an easy Bogdanovic score. Despite six turnovers, Saric definitely continued his successful Olympic run.

The same couldn’t be said of Nene, who looked languid and shot just 2-for-10. Brazil – which trailed by 11 in fourth quarter and cut the deficit to three a couple times – made most of its comeback with him on the bench.

The Brazilians will need much more from him in their hyped matchup with South American rival Argentina on Saturday.