Since Dec. 1, the Washington Wizards have the best record in the East at 22-9. Their starting five — John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris, and Marcin Gortat — outscore opponents by 11.7 points per 100 possessions, which is better than the starting lineups of the Spurs or Cavaliers. After a slow start, the team has come around to what Scott Brooks wants to do, and the Wizards are up to the four seed in the East and still climbing.
Is this team on par with Toronto and Boston in the second tier of the East?
Are John Wall and Bradley Beal getting along? How big an Achilles heel is the bench? Will the team keep Otto Porter next summer?
I talk about all of that and more with CSNMidAtlantic.com Wizards Insider J. Michael in this latest PBT Podcast.
As always, you can check out the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes (check there to see all the NBC Sports podcasts), subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out our new PBT podcast homepage and archive at Audioboom.com.
February is here, and that means more cold weather, the NBA All-Star Game, talking about Black History and a couple of key presidents that helped this nation become what it is, Valentines Day, pitchers and catchers report, and… oh, I think there’s some football game this weekend.
But before we get deep into February, let’s look back at the best plays from the NBA in January, courtesy the folks at NBA.com. There’s some game winner shots including from T.J. McConnell, some Giannis Antetokounmpo dunks, Chris Paul doing Chris Paul things, and on down the line.
You’ve got 10 minutes to enjoy this. It beats working on a Wednesday.
The Miami Heat are not about to let Okaro White go.
Now on his second 10-day contract, the Heat are 8-0 since he joined the team and in the last four games the 6’8″ forward out of Florida State has averaged more than eight minutes a game in the fourth quarter. Eric Spoelstra is leaning on him, he looks like a player (averaging 4.6 points per game since joining the team).
But if he stays, someone else has to go as Josh Richardson nears a return from his ankle issues (the Heat have a league waiver to carry more than 15 players until Richardson returns). The guy that seems on the block is Derrick Williams, reports Barry Jackson at the Miami Herald.
An NBA official in touch with Miami’s front office said the Heat has explored trading Derrick Williams to create a roster spot for White, the 6-9 forward who has regularly been receiving late-game minutes since joining the Heat on Jan. 17.
If the Heat is unable to trade Williams, releasing him is among the other options under consideration.
Washington is among the teams believed to have interest if Williams is released, according to a Williams associate. It’s also possible that he could be claimed or acquired via trade by a team that hasn’t reached the league-required cap floor: Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Denver, Utah, Phoenix or Minnesota.
No team looking to trade for Williams is going to give up much because he is likely to be waived. Why even surrender a second round pick if you can grab him for nothing and just pay the league minimum after he clears waivers?
Williams has fallen out of the rotation in Miami (White is playing ahead of him). He has averaged six points and three rebounds a game in the 24 he has gotten into.
Russell Westbrook and James Harden are battling it out at the top of the MVP race this year. But the second tier of that race — spots three through five on your ballot — has to include Kawhi Leonard, who is having a career year.
Tuesday night Westbrook and Leonard went head-to-head and put on a show.
Westbrook finished the game with 27 points on 17 shots, but he did not get a triple double (he has never had a triple-double against the Spurs in 46 games). However, Westbrook was 0-of-4 in the fourth quarter with Leonard dogging him, while Leonard himself had a quick 12 points in the quarter (36 for the game) to help seal the Spurs win.
The Cleveland Cavaliers remain in search of a backup point guard who can be another playmaker for the team. They reportedly worked out Mario Chalmers, Jordan Farmar, Lance Stephenson, and Kirk Hinrich yesterday.
Deron Williams is better than any of them.
Which has led to the rumor, as reported by Sam Amick of the USA Today, that the Cavaliers are interested in Williams.
The Cavs could take the trade route too, of course, and they are known to have inquired about the Dallas Mavericks’ Deron Williams. The 32-year-old, three-time All-Star is in the final year of his deal ($9 million), and it’s worth noting that Dallas has shown interest in the Cavs’ Iman Shumpert previously when he was a free agent (he’s owed a combined $31 million for this season and the next two, with a player option for 2018-19).
Around the league, the sense is Williams is not actually available.
The questions about whether this deal would go down start here: How serious is Dallas about making a run at the playoffs? They have won seven of their last 10 and are 3.5 games back of Denver in the sad race for the eight seed in the West. It’s conceivable Dallas could close that gap, but they would keep Williams to do it.
Williams is 32 but has accepted a smaller role and become a solid NBA point guard, averaging 13.5 points and 7.1 assists per game this season and shooting 35.7 percent from three. He’s more a floor general than a dynamic scorer anymore. Williams is not a great defender but he’s smart on that end.
This deal is not unreasonable, but don’t expect to see it or any move by Dallas — if it makes one — until closer to the deadline. They may be willing to wait a few weeks to see if the hot streak continues, and with that how realistic their shot at the playoffs is.