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Former Wizard Jared Dudley: ‘I’m seeing a team that has been together too long’

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The Washington Wizards are a mess to start the season. They are 5-10, have the second-worst defense in the NBA, the 20th ranked offense, and get outscored by an average of 5.6 points per 100 possessions. Which is to say, that record is a pretty accurate reflection of who they are right now, but it doesn’t do justice to how bad the locker room chemistry is.

Add former Wizard Jared Dudley to the chorus of voices saying it’s time for a change. After Dudley’s Nets beat the Wizards, Dudley said this to Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington:

“I’m seeing a team that has been together too long,” Dudley told NBC Sports Washington…. “They haven’t made progress, so it’s time to change things over there.”

“I think (they have) good players, but sometimes, good players need different situations. For them, I think that it’s tough the way the league is changing. They play two bigs,” Dudley said about the combination of power forward Markieff Morris and center Dwight Howard. “In this day in age, Otto [Porter] needs to play more four because he’s tall enough, more spacing.”

“I think they’ve had enough time, but they really haven’t (broken) through,” Dudley said. “I can see by the All-Star break or summer time one of these pieces moving. It’s going to be good for them. If it’s John, or Otto or Brad, one of them three, I think their next move is going to be good for both teams.”

A lot of people agree with Dudley, the Wizards should trade one of their big three. However, actually doing that would be challenging (and that’s assuming GM Ernie Grunfeld wants to make a trade).

Washington reportedly has teams calling about Bradley BealMinnesota was on that list when they were shopping Jimmy Butler — but the Wizards know he’s their best player and are not interested in moving him.

What the Wizards would prefer to do is move John Wall or Otto Porter. Good luck with that. Wall is nearly impossible to trade because his designated veteran max extension kicks in NEXT season, meaning after this season he has four more years at an average of $42 million a season on his deal. Just to make it even more difficult, if Wall is traded at the deadline there is a 15 percent trade kicker (which would lead to a big bonus this season and a little more money down the line.

Otto Porter has two years left on his contract after this one at $27.3 million and $28.5 million (the second year is a player option, but he will pick it up). This season Porter has been a pretty average player — 10.4 points a game, shoots 35 percent from three, PER of 13.8 (slightly below the league average) — on a max contract. That’s the kinds of deals teams do not want to take on, the Wizards would need to throw a lot of sweeteners to even get another team to consider a trade.

Washington, once again, came into the season talking big — Eastern Conference Finals — and with a confidence not warranted by past results. Reality has shown them something different. Dudley is right, it’s time for a change, it was last summer (if not before that), but actually doing something may prove to be too much until next July.

Watch Celtics’ Marcus Morris drain three to force overtime vs. Suns

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Marcus Morris used to play in Phoenix. In fact, before his new team, the Boston Celtics, took on the Suns Thursday Morris talked about how much he enjoyed living in the city and missed parts of it (the weather in February likely at the top of that list).

Morris was also a little bitter at the franchise for splitting up he and his brother Markieff Morris (after the pair had worked out a unique, below-market deal to stay together on the same team on Phoenix).

So when he drained a three that capped a 22-point comeback — 14 of those points in the final 3:45 — it had to feel good.

After the game, Suns coach Igor Kokoskov was understandably pissed. He said he told the Suns to foul on that final play, force the Celtics to shoot two free throws, and don’t let them get a three off. The Suns had a chance to foul when Morris first had the ball 35 feet out with his back to the basket. Then they had a chance when Morris first handed off to Kyrie Irving. And nothing. Then the Suns’ defenders all went to Irving, nobody rotated over to Morris at the arc, and… that’s how you blow a three-point lead in the final seconds.

Kyrie Irving took over in OT scoring the first six points and the Celtics got the win, 116-109. Kyrie Irving had 39.

And Kokoskov probably could use some ulcer medication.

Dwight Howard scheduled tmake Wizards debut Friday vs OKC

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Dwight Howard is scheduled to make his Washington Wizards debut against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.

Wizards coach Scott Brooks says his team’s new center practiced Thursday and will start against visiting Oklahoma City.

The Wizards are off to a 1-6 start without Howard. He missed all of training camp, the preseason and the first seven games of the regular season because of a sore backside.

Howard didn’t travel with the team on Washington’s recent five-game road trip.

Brooks says power forward Markieff Morris is out of the concussion protocol and practiced Thursday. He is also expected to play Friday against the Thunder.

Three Things to Know: 1-5 Wizards are worse than you think

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LOS ANGELES — Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) The 1-5 Wizards are worse than you think. Watch the Wizards play and what is wrong grows more and more obvious. It’s not the defense — although it’s terrible, the Wizards are allowing 114.5 points per 100 possessions this season (26th in the NBA and 6.9 worse than they gave up last season). It’s not their three-point shooting, although the Wizards are hitting just 31 percent from three as a team. It wasn’t even that the Wizards got blown out by the Clippers 136-104 Sunday night.

It’s not the statistics at all.

Watch Washington in person and the team’s lack of chemistry is painfully obvious:

• When Bradley Beal slipped and went to the floor in the second half, it was Clipper Tobias Harris who helped him up because no Wizard teammate came over to. There were two other similar instances I noticed Sunday night where the Clipper player helped a Wizards player off the floor because teammates did not rush over to do so.

• When the Wizards took the court to start the game there was almost no interaction among players — Otto Porter was talking to the referee because that was the only person willing to talk to him.

• Clippers players seemed to be more concerned when Markieff Morris went down with an elbow to the face than the Wizards (Morris left the game with a concussion).

The Wizards are clearly playing for themselves and not each other, not the team.

“That was the first thing Scotty [Brooks, Wizards’ coach] said after the game,” Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers said. “He said, ‘Man, your guys are just, watching them, you just feel the energy and you just feel them. They get along.”

Washington’s John Wall and Bradley Beal have spoken before about guys playing for themselves and their stats, not sacrificing for the team, and that theme — on the court and in the locker room — carried over into Sunday.

“Just gotta go out there and compete,” John Wall said. “We play like a team that’s 5-1 and people are just going to lay down, we got to play with a sense of urgency that we’re 1-5 now…. “When you play the game of basketball you can’t worry about how many points you got, how many steals you got, how many assists you got, it’s just competing.”

Beyond the chemistry, of all the on-court problems, nothing is going to change until the defense improves.

“Our defense is horrendous…” Austin Rivers said. “You’ve got to have personal pride. You’ve got to get mad when someone scores on you. We’re not the Warriors.”

“Just heart. Just heart and pride,” Wall said of what it will take to fix the defense. “Guard your man one-on-one, that’s really the main key. We gotta do a better job of switching — when we do do that, like we did in the first quarter, I think we played the best we have played for a while.”

The switching trend in the NBA is giving the Wizards problems on both ends.

“On offense when we get (a switch we like), we take a bad shot sometimes and bail those guys out,” Wall said. “When they put us in bad situations, we gamble too much or don’t stay on the play and get a stop… we do a good job of it in practice, but we have to bring the same competitive edge we have competing against each other in practice to playing someone else.”

Washington’s play is ugly and coach Scott Brooks could pay the price with his job if things don’t improve. He certainly is not faultless in all this.

However, the Wizards have changed coaches before. They have changed players around on the periphery then spun it as trying to fix chemistry issues (Marcin Gortat going to the Clippers is the latest along those lines). Everything changes except the core, and yet the same problem exists.

Which means maybe it’s getting to be time for the Wizards to take a fresh look at that core and if it works.

2) Does firing of Tyronn Lue mean Cavaliers realize it’s time to go all-in on the rebuild? Last July, when LeBron James decided to head west, the Cavaliers brain trust decided to pivot to… nobody is sure what exactly. They wanted to walk the very fine line of a rebuild on the fly — compete now while building for the future — and they fell off that tightrope.

This isn’t a team built to win now, not with Kevin Love leading an aging roster constructed to support LeBron — Tristan Thompson, George Hill, J.R. Smith, Kyle Korver. They are not a group built to create great looks and rack up wins on their own. There’s a reason Vegas set the under/over on wins for the Cavaliers this season at 31.5.

It’s also not a rebuild in Cleveland. How many players on the Cavaliers are younger than 25? Four. Just four — Collin Sexton, Ante Zizic, Cedi Osman, and Sam Dekker. Guys we think of as young — Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood — are all 26 and closer to their prime, and they all come with questions.

Sunday Lue paid the price for a 0-6 start and a sense among the front office in Cleveland they needed to go another direction, a coach better suited to a young team (even if the Cavs are not yet htat).

That start, however, was not about Lue. It’s about a team in limbo. The Cavaliers need to pick a path. Rebuilding would make the most sense.

Play Colin Sexton more and live with the at times painful learning process. He’s got real potential, but he’s still adjusting to the speed of the NBA and settles for far too many long twos.

More importantly, it’s time to start working to trade the veterans and getting pieces for a rebuild back (picks and prospects). There will a market at the deadline for Kyle Korver — a shooter on a fair contract, $7.6 million this season and with a $3.4 million buyout for next season. George Hill is overpaid this season ($19 million) but he is a solid point guard when healthy and come the deadline there could be teams willing to take the hit this season knowing he has a $1 million buyout next season. J.R. Smith, at $14.7 million this season (with a $3.9 million buyout next season) will be harder to move because, without LeBron, teams are not sure how much he will help them.

Love is the big piece to move, but with his new contract it’s a lot harder. That is probably a next summer move — but it’s one they need to start moving toward.

3) Oklahoma City gets first win of the season. When you’re busting out of a slump, you don’t care where and how it happens. So what if the Phoenix Suns were on the second night of a back-to-back? Who cares if they didn’t have Devin Booker?

What matters is Paul George and Russell Westbrook scored 23 points a piece and the Thunder got their first win of the season, 117-110.

Westbrook was doing Westbrook things all night.

Also, don’t sleep on Nerlens Noel, who had 20 points and 15 boards.

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

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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.