Wizards Rumors

Mahinmi Not Playing In Season Finale Against Celtics

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said on Wednesday that center Ian Mahinmi will not play in tomorrow’s regular-season finale against the Celtics, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter link).

Since the Wizards landed in Orlando for the seeding games, Mahinmi has not played a single minute. This season, the 33-year-old center only played in 38 games, averaging 7.4 PPG and 5.7 RPG.

The Wizards were expecting Mahinmi to be their veteran rim protector when they signed him to a four-year, $64MM contract in the summer of 2016. However, that never came to fruition due to injuries. Over the last two seasons, Mahinmi has only played in 72 games. The veteran center is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

NBA Suspends Giannis For Final Seeding Game

After head-butting Wizards big man Moritz Wagner yesterday, Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo has been suspended by the NBA for the team’s regular season finale tomorrow against the Grizzlies, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Antetokounmpo, the likely 2019/20 NBA MVP, head-butted Wagner with 8:50 left to play in the game’s second quarter. He was immediately ejected, with a suspension for his conduct seemingly inevitable. The Bucks would go on to tally a win anyway. Milwaukee’s 126-113 victory marked the Wizards’ seventh consecutive loss in Orlando. Washington is currently winless during the NBA restart.

The 56-16 Bucks have the best record in the NBA, and have clinched the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. But the result of Thursday’s game could have significant implications for other teams.

The 33-39 Grizzlies will almost certainly need to win their bout against the Bucks to qualify for this weekend’s play-in tournament between the West’s eighth and ninth seeds, as Tim Bontemps of ESPN notes (Twitter link). Memphis could also clinch a play-in tournament appearance if both the 33-39 Suns and 32-38 Spurs lose their final seeding games, as Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Given how hot those teams have been though, the Grizzlies can’t afford to count on that.

If the 34-39 Trail Blazers lose their final seeding game tomorrow against the Nets, the Grizzlies would secure the eighth seed with a win, and would need to win just one of the two play-in games to qualify for a first-round playoff matchup against the top-seeded Lakers. The Grizzlies would be the ninth seed if they and the Blazers win, but as the ninth seed they would need to win both play-in games to advance.

A Grizzlies loss tomorrow to an Antetokounmpo-free Bucks squad would likely eliminate Memphis from the playoffs. This could have interesting draft implications for the Celtics, as ESPN’s Zach Lowe reminds us (Twitter link). Boston owns the Grizzlies’ first-round draft pick if it falls outside the top six picks this season, before becoming completely unprotected in 2021.

Were Memphis to fall into the draft lottery for 2020, the team would have a slim chance at a pick within the top six. If the Grizzlies get lucky in the lottery, the Celtics would instead receive the team’s unprotected 2021 first-round pick. A play-in series loss would also theoretically keep the Grizzlies’ chances at retaining their own 2020 pick alive.

John Wall Prepared To Play Off-Ball Alongside Beal

Wizards point guard John Wall expects to have a different role in the team’s offense once he rejoins Washington, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Wall has missed the entire 2019/20 season due to a ruptured Achilles tendon.

“My game is going to be totally different than what it was before because now with the way [Bradley Beal] can handle the ball,” Wall said of his Wizards teammate. “I can be off the ball a little bit and score from the wing and score in transition by running the wing.”

Wizards' Jerome Robinson Showing Impressive Consistency

  • Wizards guard Jerome Robinson has shown consistency at the NBA’s campus in Orlando, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes. Robinson was averaging 17 points in four games heading into the team’s contest against Oklahoma City on Sunday, where he exceeded his average by recording 19 points with six assists.

2020 NBA Draft Lottery Update

The 2020 NBA draft lottery, originally scheduled for May 19, will now take place on August 20, two weeks from today. Besides happening three months later than usual, this year’s lottery also figures to look a little different, since the ongoing coronavirus pandemic will almost certainly make it impossible for the NBA to bring representatives from the bottom 14 teams to a single location.

As we wait to see what the league has in mind for this year’s event, here are a few updates and reminders on the 2020 NBA draft lottery:

The bottom eight teams are already locked into their lottery spots

Much has been made in the last 24 hours about the Wizards (24-44), who are participating in the NBA’s summer restart, slipping below the inactive Hornets (23-42) in the Eastern Conference standings.

Fortunately for Hornets fans – and unfortunately for Wizards backers – the lottery odds for those two teams won’t hinge on which team finishes with the better overall record. For the NBA’s bottom eight teams, one silver lining of not getting an invite to Orlando this summer for the restart is that their spot in the top eight of the lottery has been locked in, based on the league standings as of March 11.

The Hornets will have the eighth-best odds and the Bulls will have the seventh-best odds even if the Wizards go 0-8 this summer and fall below both teams in the standings.

The race for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference could impact the lottery odds

With the non-Orlando teams frozen in the top eight lottery positions, the other six spots will be determined by two factors:

  • Which six teams in Orlando don’t make the playoffs.
  • What their records were as of March 11.

This is great news for a team like Phoenix. Having won their first three games in Orlando – as the Grizzlies lost their first four – the Suns are very much alive in the race for the No. 8 seed in the West. It will still take a strong finish and some luck for the Suns to qualify for a play-in tournament, but let’s suppose they do.

In that scenario, if the Suns win the play-in tournament and earn a postseason spot, their first-round pick would be 15th overall, best among the playoff teams, since they entered the hiatus with a 26-39 record, worse than Orlando or Brooklyn.

If they were to lose a play-in tournament, Phoenix would end up with the 10th-best lottery odds, ahead of the rest of Orlando’s non-playoff teams besides the Wizards, who were the only one of the 22 invited teams with a worse record than the Suns as of March 11.

Essentially, if you want to determine the back half of the lottery standings, you just have to sort the 22 teams in Orlando by their March 11 records, from worst to first, then remove the 16 teams that end up in the playoffs.

The Grizzlies could theoretically still keep their first-round pick

The Grizzlies owe their 2020 first-round pick to the Celtics, but it includes top-six protection.

As long as Memphis makes the playoffs, that protection doesn’t really matter — Boston would receive the pick. However, with the Grizzlies’ hold on the No. 8 seed slipping, there’s still an outside chance that they could keep the pick.

Let’s say Memphis falls out of the No. 8 spot and either loses a play-in tournament or altogether misses out on qualifying for a play-in. In that scenario, the Grizzlies would enter the lottery with the 14th-best odds, since they had a better record on March 11 than any of their fellow lottery teams. That would give them a 2.4% chance at moving into the top four, where their pick would be protected.

Those aren’t good odds. In all likelihood, missing the playoffs would just mean the Grizzlies sent the Celtics the No. 14 pick instead of a selection in the 15-17 range. Still, the outside chance at another top pick would at least be a small silver lining if Memphis can’t grab that No. 8 spot. If the Grizzlies do hang onto this year’s pick, they’d owe Boston an unprotected first-rounder in 2021.

Over in the East, the Nets owe a lottery-protected pick to the Timberwolves and would keep it if they fall out of the postseason. However, the Wizards’ struggles have essentially ruled out that possibility. One more Brooklyn win or Washington loss will ensure that the Nets make the playoffs and send their pick to Minnesota.

Current lottery odds

Listed here are the odds for the teams not invited to Orlando, who will hold the top eight spots in the lottery standings.

The numbers in the chart indicate percentages, so the Warriors, for example, have a 14% chance of landing the No. 1 pick and a 47.9% chance of ending up at No. 5. If a team’s odds are listed as >0, that percentage is below 0.1%.

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
GSW 14 13.4 12.7 12 47.9
CLE 14 13.4 12.7 12 27.8 20
MIN 14 13.4 12.7 12 14.8 26 7.1
ATL 12.5 12.2 11.9 11.5 7.2 25.7 16.8 2.2
DET 10.5 10.5 10.6 10.5 2.2 19.6 26.7 8.8 0.6
NYK 9 9.2 9.4 9.6 8.6 29.6 20.6 3.8 0.2
CHI 7.5 7.8 8.1 8.5 19.7 34.1 12.9 1.3 >0
CHA 6 6.3 6.7 7.2 34.5 32.1 6.7 0.4 >0

The tentative odds for the bottom six spots, assuming the Grizzlies hang onto the No. 8 seed, can be found right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Wizards Notes: Playoffs, Brown, Development, Lottery

The Wizards entered the summer with a 24-40 record, worst among the 22 teams invited to Orlando, and things haven’t improved in the last week. Washington is off to an 0-3 start, with a Sunday loss to the Nets potentially driving a dagger into the team’s postseason aspirations.

Although they aren’t technically eliminated from playoff contention yet, the Wizards could be as soon as today. The NBA announced this morning that Washington will be eliminated from the playoffs if they lose to Philadelphia today and the Magic and Nets both win their games.

Orlando and Brooklyn have tough matchups on tap, against the Raptors and Celtics, respectively, so the Wizards’ playoff chances may well survive another day or two. But now that they’re 7.5 games behind the eighth-seeded Magic, it looks like just a matter of time before the Wizards’ odds of forcing a play-in tournament dip to zero.

Here are a few more notes on the Wizards:

  • Although the Wizards haven’t won a game at Walt Disney World yet, the opportunity to have 21-year-old Troy Brown closing Monday’s loss at point guard is an example of the value the franchise sees in playing these games, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “We have to see what we have in a lot of different positions. These are great minutes,” head coach Scott Brooks said. “That’s why we’re here. We’re here to get better and we’re here to improve.”
  • Brown’s ball-handling opportunities figure to be cut back next season when John Wall and Bradley Beal return. However, Mike DePrisco of NBC Sports Washington makes the case that the Wizards should still find ways to get the ball into the second-year guard’s hands, since that plays to his strengths.
  • The young players seeing action for the Wizards this summer aren’t just auditioning for roles in next season’s rotation, Hughes writes for NBC Sports Washington. In Hughes’ view, those players could become more appealing trade assets if they take positive steps forward during the restart, increasing the team’s offseason options.
  • Assuming the Wizards are eliminated from the playoffs, they’ll enter the August 20 draft lottery with the ninth-best odds and a 4.5% shot at the No. 1 pick. Washington’s full tentative lottery odds can be found right here.

Beal, Wall, Bertans Remain Involved With Wizards

  • Although Bradley Beal, John Wall, and Davis Bertans aren’t with the Wizards in Orlando, they’re watching practices and continue to participate in team meetings, sources tell Haynes. The team has set up live streams of practices and meetings for players and staff who aren’t on the Orlando campus, Haynes notes.
  • According to Haynes, Beal has made an effort to check in with Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard anytime he misses a meeting or practice in order to catch up. Both Wall and Beal have “been in the ears” of Washington’s young players during the restart, Haynes adds.


Lottery Odds Aren't Improving In Orlando

  • The Wizards have lost their first three games in Orlando but that isn’t helping their lottery odds, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington notes. Prior to the restart, an amendment to the rules locked the eight teams who weren’t invited to Orlando into the top eight spots in the draft lottery. The best Washington can do is enter the lottery in the No. 9 spot, even if it loses its remaining games.

Oladipo Not Playing On Monday; Brogdon Returns

1:32pm: Oladipo has officially been ruled out for Monday’s game, while Brogdon will be active, tweets Agness.

10:45am: Pacers guard Victor Oladipo has been listed as doubtful to play in Monday’s game against the Wizards, as Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports tweets. Oladipo continues to rehab the quad tendon injury that he returned from earlier this year.

The fact that Oladipo isn’t expected to suit up against Washington shouldn’t be a cause for concern for Pacers fans. Indiana is also scheduled to play on Tuesday vs. Orlando, and even after the All-Star guard changed his mind about sitting out the restart, there was an expectation that he wouldn’t play in both halves of the team’s lone back-to-back set. Sitting on Monday should mean that Oladipo is good to go on Tuesday.

Oladipo, who announced a month ago today that he would opting out of the restart this summer, reconsidered that position after accompanying the Pacers to Orlando and responding well in practices. He logged 32 minutes in the club’s win over Philadelphia on Saturday, putting up 15 points and seven rebounds on 6-of-14 shooting.

Meanwhile, Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon, who missed that game against the Sixers due to a neck injury, is listed as questionable for Monday’s contest vs. Washington, Agness notes. If Brogdon isn’t able to return today, he seems likely to do so soon.

And-Ones: China, Pollin, Wembanyama, OTAs

American coaches who spent time at three NBA training academies in China tell Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada of ESPN.com that their Chinese partners were physically abusing young players and failing to provide them with schooling.

The NBA opened academies in the Chinese regions of Zhejiang, Shandong, and Xinjiang in 2016, expressing a hope that the facilities would help grow the game in China and educate teenagers, while also helping the league identify top international prospects with possible NBA potential.

However, according to ESPN’s investigation, the academy program – which operates out of sports facilities run by the Chinese government – was described by one American coach who worked in China as a “sweat camp for athletes.” Fainaru and Fainaru-Wada report that multiple American coaches left their positions due to the mistreatment of young players, with three sources telling ESPN that one of those coaches requested a transfer after seeing Chinese coaches strike teenage players.

A handful of incidents were reported to the NBA, and deputy commissioner Mark Tatum – who recently revealed that the league shut down its academy in Xinjiang – told ESPN that the league office “did everything we could, given the limited oversight we had.” However, multiple sources told Fainaru and Fainaru-Wada that the instances of abuse were more prevalent than the few incidents Tatum confirmed.

“Imagine you have a kid who’s 13, 14 years old, and you’ve got a grown coach who is 40 years old hitting your kid,” one former coach told ESPN. “We’re part of that. The NBA is part of that.”

The NBA’s relationship with China has been under the microscope since last fall, when Rockets GM Daryl Morey published a tweet supporting Hong Kong protestors that angered the league’s Chinese partners. Given its financial interests in the country, the NBA has been unwilling to denounce China’s government for its human rights record, which has opened the league up to criticism from multiple U.S. politicians in recent months.

While Morey’s tweet and the NBA’s tenuous relationship with its Chinese partners are no longer making headlines like they did last fall, ESPN’s investigation sheds additional light on the complications that come along with the league doing business in China.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Irene Pollin, the long-time co-owner of the Washington Bullets/Wizards with her husband Abe, passed away at age 96 on Tuesday, the Wizards announced (via Twitter). The Pollins owned the franchise for 46 years before Ted Leonsis assumed controlling ownership in 2010. Irene represented the Wizards at the 2010 draft lottery when the team won the No. 1 pick that was used to select John Wall.
  • Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype takes a closer look at 16-year-old Victor Wembanyama, a 7’3″ big man from France who is viewed as one of basketball’s most intriguing international prospects.
  • One iteration of the plan for OTAs for the NBA’s bottom eight teams would allow G League players to join those workouts, reports Ian Begley of SNY.tv. As Begley notes, the participation of NBAGL players would allow a team like the Knicks – who are carrying a number of possible free agents – to conduct more full scrimmages. The NBA hasn’t yet finalized those proposed OTAs for its bottom eight teams, but they’re expected to be voluntary.