Getty Images

Wizards’ Bradley Beal: ‘Recruiting process is really going alright…I’m trying’

1 Comment

LeBron James went out of his way to say he was not recruiting guys on his free-agent heavy All-Star Team.

Bradley Beal had no such hesitation, he tried to recruit guys, as he told Chase Huges of NBC Sports Washington.

“The recruiting process is really going alright. It’s going alright. I’m trying,” Beal said. “This is new for me. I’m definitely getting some ears and seeing what guys are looking for.”

Beal was too smart to name names — that would have brought a fine from the league — but he said some guys asked if he was happy where he was, while other guys he talked to about the possibilities in Washington.

The problem is while the Wizards will have some cap space after trading Otto Porter and Markieff Morris (and assuming they don’t pick up the option on Jabari Parker) but they will be nowhere near the max cap space needed to land the elite free agents at the All-Star Game (Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, etc.). Even the second-tier All-Star free agents such as Khris Middleton will get max offers. Same with players who just missed the game, such as Tobias Harris.

If the Wizards renounce free agents they can get to $9 million in cap space, stretch and waive Ian Mahinmi and they can get to $18 million. That’s the top end. Meaning the Wizards will have room to make moves for good rotation players, but with John Wall‘s supermax extension kicking in at $38 million next season flexibility is limited. Genuine upgrades will be hard to come by.

Predicting what Washington GM Ernie Grunfeld will do next summer is a fool’s errand, but Beal is doing his part to try and bring more talent into Washington.

Wizards: Markieff Morris out six weeks

Leave a comment

Despite stinking most of this season, the Wizards showed how much they valued winning in the present by trading for Trevor Ariza.

But fate has had other ideas for Washington.

Since the Ariza deal, John Wall underwent season-ending surgery. Now, Markieff Morris will miss an extended period of time.

Wizards release, via NBC Sports Washington:

After consultation between Dr. Dossett and Wizards Director of Medical Services and Orthopedist Dr. Wiemi Douoguih, Morris has been diagnosed with transient cervical neuropraxia. He will be limited to non-contact basketball activities for the next six weeks, after which he is expected to be cleared to return to full basketball activities.

The Wizards are three games and three teams out of playoff position. They’re still in the race, but reaching the postseason won’t be easy. Bradley Beal can’t simply put this team on his back.

With Morris out, expect Washington to lean more heavily on Jeff Green, Otto Porter (once he gets fully healthy), Thomas Bryant and maybe even Sam Dekker and Ian Mahinmi in the frontcourt. Morris has played plenty at both power forward and center for this team.

Morris hasn’t played very well this year, but since getting pulled from the starting lineup, he has provided a useful scoring punch off the bench.

This injury projects to sideline him through the trade deadline. That’ll make it more difficult to move his $8.6 million expiring contract.

So, it’ll be tough to tank. It might be tough to win, though.

The Wizards just remain mostly stuck.

Stephen Curry scores 51 points with 11 3-pointers, sits entire fourth quarter

2 Comments

OAKLAND, Calif. — Stephen Curry just shrugged and grinned as he kept lighting up the floor, scoring 51 points and finishing with 11 3-pointers in only three quarters of the Golden State Warriors’ 144-122 victory over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.

Kevin Durant added 30 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, and Draymond Green had 11 of his 12 assists in the first half to help two-time defending champions finish with 37 after dishing out 35 assists in a 20-point victory against Phoenix on Monday.

But this was all Curry’s show. No. 30 knocked down his 11th 3 of the night late in the third from 32 feet back and shrugged like no big deal whatsoever.

He scored 31 in the first half and finished with his sixth career 50-point game and made 10 or more 3s for the 10th time. The 51 points matched his most at Oracle Arena.

Curry hit his first five 3-pointers then after his fifth one drove to the basket and was fouled. He made two free throws to chants of “MVP! MVP!” The two-time winner of the award had the ninth 30-point half of his career and fourth at home.

The “MVP!” cheers continued. Curry shot 15 for 24, 11 of 16 from 3-point range and made all 10 free throws, missing his career high of 54 set in February 2013 by three points.

He has scored 30 or more points in four of the first five games and had 29 on Monday against Phoenix, also playing just three quarters. He has hit at least five 3-pointers in each game so far.

Bradley Beal bruised his sternum early then returned late in the first half and wound up with 23 points. Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 17 points off the bench for Washington.

The Warriors have won four straight against Washington.

TIP-INS

Wizards: C Ian Mahinmi missed the game with back spasms, Jason Smith starting in his place. … Washington hasn’t won at Golden State since Jan. 28, 2014, a five-game skid. The Wizards have dropped 10 of 12 on the Warriors’ home floor.

Warriors: Golden State had its first 80-point half since scoring 81 in the first half Jan. 13 at Toronto. … Curry’s third 3 of the night at the 3:30 mark in the first moved him past Jamal Crawford (2,153) for fifth place on the NBA’s career list. Curry now has 2,162 3s. He notched the 22nd 20-point quarter of his career and seventh in the opening period. … G Shaun Livingston returned from a two-game absence nursing a bruised left knee. … This marked Golden State’s initial matchup against the Eastern Conference so far and first of four straight with an upcoming three-game road trip to New York, Brooklyn and Chicago. The Warriors went 24-6 vs. the East last season, 11-4 at home.

1975 CHAMPS

The Warriors honored the 1975 championship team, which swept the Washington Bullets 4-0 in the finals that year. Five members of the team attended morning shootaround then Hall of Famer Rick Barry joined the group for the game.

Six players and assistant coach Joe Roberts took turns hoisting the trophy during a ceremony before the second quarter. Coach Al Attles wasn’t in attendance as originally planned because he wasn’t feeling well.

Golden State sported gold throwback jerseys for the occasion.

THOMPSON’S TOUCH

Klay Thompson missed his first three 3-point tries before connecting with 6:36 left in the third and scored 19 points.

Thompson is 4 for 27 from long range through the initial five games.

“One thing I love about Klay is he’s going to shoot his way out of anything,” coach Steve Kerr said.

MORRIS FINED

Wizards forward Markieff Morris was fined $15,000 by the NBA for unsportsmanlike conduct. Morris was on the bench when he twice pulled at guard Seth Curry‘s shorts during live play at the end of the fourth quarter in the Wizards’ 125-124 overtime victory.

UP NEXT

Wizards: At Sacramento on Friday.

Warriors: At Knicks on Friday.

Report: Dwight Howard injured butt

Rob Carr/Getty Images
4 Comments

Wizards center Dwight Howard has been dealing with back soreness during the preseason – a concerning issue for someone with so many back problems in his career.

But apparently the source of the latest pain came from lower.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Candace Buckner of The Washington Post:

This bodes well for Howard’s return. Until he can go, Washington will lean on Ian Mahinmi at center. Markieff Morris can play the position in small lineups. Otto Porter has even played center in some super-small lineups this preseason.

Hopefully, this injury will not limit Howard long-term. He has a reputation to uphold.

Dwight Howard suffers setback with back rehab, could miss start of season

3 Comments

Dwight Howard — the guy the Wizards brought in to be an upgrade over Marcin Gortat, who had chemistry issues with John Wall — has yet to participate in training camp due to back problems. Something that has been chronic for him since Howard was a Laker.

Which is why the word “setback” is ominous. From Chris Miller of NBC Sports Washington.

While Brooks is trying to be optimistic, it’s hard to imagine the Wizards racing Howard back for the first game, or a few games, after he missed all of training camp with the team. Howard had been more durable the past few seasons, missing 10 games or fewer each of the last three, but this season is getting off to a rough start.

If Howard is out, Ian Mahinmi will start. There also could be some small ball lineups with Markieff Morris at the five.

Howard’s decline from the best center in the game — perennial MVP candidate, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, and eight times All-NBA — to NBA vagabond (five teams in six seasons) has been fast. It’s such a fall that even HBO’s John Oliver is taking digs at him.

Part of it is health — Howard was never the same after the first back surgery. Also, the NBA evolved in how big men are used, and while Howard had the skill set to evolve with it (as a defensive force and a tremendous pick-and-roll big) he didn’t want to. He wanted to play like Shaq and Kareem in a world with zone defenses where post-up opportunities in the old-school back-them-down sense are limited. For most of his career, Howard has been a more efficient pick-and-roll player than he is on post-ups but that’s not how he wanted to play.

Now, Howard just wants to play. Which means he needs to get healthy, and that could take some time.