Before the season, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis stated his goals: 50 wins and the conference finals.
Washington is 19-26 and 11th in the Eastern Conference.
Time to shift priorities?
NBC Sports Washington:
Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington:
The Wizards are too talented to tank right now. Led by Bradley Beal, they have a roster of capable veterans. They just traded for Trevor Ariza, making that even more true.
As bad as they’ve been, the Wizards are just 2.5 games and three teams out of playoff position. They will likely miss the postseason, but there’s no alternative better than trying to get there. They’re too far down the road toward winning now to simply pivot into a rebuilding.
But what about if the Wizards get eliminated from playoff contention with games left in the season? They won’t tank down the stretch to improve their draft position? What’s the point of that?
And what about future seasons? Washington will have a tough time building a satisfactory winner after signing John Wall to a super-max extension that kicks in next season. That difficult-to-move contract almost mandates the Wizards prioritize the present. A healthy Wall is good enough to ensure Washington can’t bottom out – for now.
Wall be 32 in the final year of that deal. The Wizards could be in ruins by then. Taking the option to tank off the table would be a mistake.
To be fair, I’m not totally sure Leonsis is doing that. Owners almost never admit to tanking. Most deny it.
But this goes a level beyond. This is far more forceful than Leonsis had to be, which makes me believe it’s actually his plan.
That’s fine right now. Eventually, it could make a futile situation far worse.
Bring on the Warriors.
The Rockets did their part to set up a highly anticipated rematch by dispatching the Jazz 100-93 in Game 5 Wednesday. With a 4-1 series victory over Utah, Houston enters the second round to face the winner of Warriors-Clippers. Golden State leads 3-1 entering its own Game 5 tonight.
Houston pushed these Warriors harder than anyone has, falling just short in last year’s seven-game Western Conference finals. James Harden said he thinks about losing Games 6 and 7 every day.
Will the Rockets supplant Golden State this year?
Harden is better. Chris Paul is healthy. The Warriors – their veterans a year older, Kevin Durant‘s impending free agency causing more drama – look somewhat vulnerable.
But Golden State is still favored in the second-round series before even winning its first-round series. The Warriors have historic top-end talent, and that usually wins out in the playoffs.
It did for the Rockets against the Jazz.
Harden (26 points, six rebounds, six assists, four blocks and three steals) and Paul (15 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals) weren’t great tonight. But they gave Houston enough considering Utah’s best player was Royce O'Neale (18 points on 8-of-13 shooting).
Donovan Mitchell (12 points on 4-of-22 shooting, including 0-for-9 on 3-pointers, with only one assist and five turnovers) had an awful game I doubt he’ll forget. His competitiveness and self-awareness are so impressive. I bet this only fuels him.
The Rockets are ready now.
They’ve won 24 of their last 29 games, going back to the regular season. They like to play a high-scoring style, but they’re versatile enough to adjust. P.J. Tucker and Clint Capela keyed a strong defensive performance tonight.
Houston probably won’t beat Golden State. But the Rockets have the opportunity they’ve desired for the last 332 days.
Boston vs. Milwaukee. Philadelphia vs. Toronto. Houston vs. Golden State.
The first round of the NBA playoffs had plenty of emotion — just ask Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook — but it was short, with very possibly only one series going at least six games.
The second round? That’s not going to be so quick, and it is filled with even matchups that present a lot of questions.
Is this the Rockets’ year? They have the formula, can they execute it? The Bucks were the best team in the regular season, but can they carry that elite level into the second round against Boston? Is Toronto the team to beat?
Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports/Real GM/Celticsblog to look ahead at the second round, and even talk a little about what is next for Oklahoma City.
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Sebastian Telfair – a high school phenom from Coney Island, N.Y. – was the No. 13 pick in the 2004 NBA draft. He never lived up to the hype, but he still stuck in the NBA for 10 seasons, with the Trail Blazers, Timberwolves, Suns, Celtics, Clippers, Thunder, Raptors and Cavaliers.
He got arrested in 2017 for gun crimes and just his lost his trial.
Sebastian Telfair has been convicted of possessing a firearm … and could be sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Don’t assume Telfair will get the maximum sentence, but this is a serious conviction and will likely carry a serious sentence.
Who’s the best senior in the 2019 NBA draft?
Washington’s Matisse Thybulle? North Carolina’s Cameron Johnson? Tennessee’s Admiral Schofield? Villanova’s Eric Paschall? Belmont’s Dylan Windler?
They’re all only borderline first-round picks. Though I think at least one will get picked in the opening round, this could be the first NBA draft without a senior selected in the first round.
Like most drafts in this era, the top prospects are largely underclassmen. They had to declare for the draft by Sunday. Some will definitely stay in. Others will withdraw by the NBA’s deadline (June 10) or, more importantly, the NCAA’s deadline to retain eligibility (May 29). Unlike previous years, players can hire agents while retaining college eligibility. But they had to enter the pool by now to stay in.
Here are all 2019 early entrants, players who came through the American system followed by international players: