- The Wizards may be the front runners to win their division, a Basketball Insiders panel concludes, but they’ll need the team to stay healthy and avoid any chemistry concerns. It will be on head coach Scott Brooks to balance all the skill sets and personalities on the payroll.
Rookie swingman Troy Brown has multiple skills and can handle multiple positions, but he’ll have to battle for playing time at each one, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The 15th player selected in this year’s draft, Brown excels at handling the ball, passing, rebounding and playing defense. The Wizards were happy with his performance in the Las Vegas Summer League, where he spent time at point guard as well as his more natural positions of shooting guard and small forward.
However, the 19-year-old won’t have an easy path toward getting minutes at any of those spots. All-stars John Wall and Bradley Beal are entrenched as the starting backcourt, and Austin Rivers was picked up in an offseason trade to provide depth. Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre will see most of the playing time at small forward, along with free agent addition Jeff Green.
Hughes suggests that Washington may see Brown as a long-term prospect and could use him at both the G League and NBA levels this season.
There’s more out of Washington:
- The Wizards got to see more of backup center Ian Mahinmi last season, but not enough to justify his sizable contract, Hughes states in a separate piece. Injuries forced Mahinmi to miss 51 games in his first season after signing a four-year, $64MM deal, but he rebounded to play 77 games last year. He will remain the backup center after Washington signed Dwight Howard to replace Marcin Gortat, who was traded to the Clippers. Howard averages more minutes per game, which will limit Mahinmi’s role, as will the use of smaller lineups that could feature Markieff Morris or Green at center.
- Jodie Meeks and Jason Smith will both be trying to improve after disappointing seasons, Hughes adds in another story. Meeks appeared in 77 games last year after two injury-filled seasons, but his numbers were down sharply in every category from his best years. He will start this season by serving the remaining 19 games of a 25-game suspension for a violation of the league’s drug program. Smith was healthy last year, but was only used in 33 games, and the addition of Green will continue to block his playing time. Both players will be free agents next summer.
- Candace Buckner of The Washington Post chronicles today’s tryouts for the Capital City Go-Go, Washington’s new G League affiliate. Ninety-three players showed up in hopes of winning one or two invitations to the new team’s training camp.
Heat shooting guard Dion Waiters may not be ready for the beginning of the regular season, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Teammate Briante Weber told Jackson that Waiters, who underwent ankle surgery in January, has not participated in any contact work or pickup games with his teammates. With Dwyane Wade continuing to waffle on whether he’ll re-sign with the team, Miami could pursue other free agent options, Jackson adds, with Jamal Crawford, Mario Chalmers and Joe Johnson among a pool of potential targets.
We have more from the Southeast Division:
- Hawks center Dewayne Dedmon, who suffered an avulsion fracture in his left ankle last week, has shed his walking boot, according to a team press release. He will now participate in weight-bearing rehabilitation and then be re-evaluated in two weeks. Dedmon, who will make $7.2MM this season, will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.
- The Magic are close to hiring Bill Pope as their director of pro personnel, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Pope currently holds a similar position with the Kings.
- Tomas Satoransky will enter camp as the Wizards’ backup point guard but there’s no guarantee he’ll remain in the rotation, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes in a player profile. Satoransky had trouble holding onto that spot last season and newcomer Austin Rivers and Troy Brown Jr. can play the point behind John Wall if needed. There’s also more depth at the wing, reducing the chances of Satoransky seeing action at those positions, Hughes adds.
When the Wizards exiled big man Marcin Gortat, they did more than simply shed the 34-year-old’s contract, they filled a void that they’ve had for some time, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes. The addition of backup combo guard Austin Rivers should alleviate some of the workload on Bradley Beal.
Beal logged the fourth most minutes in the NBA last season but ran out of gas for the Wizards late in the season. Rivers will also slot in behind John Wall at the point, providing capable support at both backcourt positions.
For the addition to work, Rivers will have to change his game slightly. For instance, he’ll have to tone down the volume shooting as part of a larger, competitive Wizards team.
SEPTEMBER 11: Washington has officially signed McRae, according to the RealGM transactions log.
AUGUST 9: The Wizards plan to sign Jordan McRae to a two-way contract, Marc Stein of The New York Times reports. The 2014 second-round pick last saw NBA action with the Cavaliers during the 2016/17 season.
McRae, now 27 years old, didn’t make much of an impact during his first two NBA stints with the Cavs and Suns after getting drafted by the Spurs, though he did win a title with Cleveland. He’ll return to the Association after an abbreviated stint playing professionally in Spain.
The shooting guard will occupy Washington’s second two-way slot, with the other currently held by small forward Devin Robinson.
Kendley, 23, played two college seasons at Morgan State and averaged 25.7 PPG, 4.0 RPG and 2.2 APG in his final year.
Kendley averaged 9.0 PPG, 2.5 RPG and 2.0 APG in four summer league games with Washington. While it’s unlikely Kendley will make the 15-man roster, the camp deal would allow the Wizards to designate the 6’5” Kendley as an affiliate player in order to retain his G League rights if he’s waived before the regular season.
Guard Chris Chiozza will join the Wizards for training camp, tweets Keith Smith of Real GM. Chiozza, who went undrafted out of Florida, played with Washington’s entry in the Las Vegas Summer League, averaging 4.8 points and 7.4 assists in five games.
He was a first-team All-SEC selection as a senior with the Gators. He averaged 11.1 points, 6.1 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game last season and broke the school record for career assists.
The addition of Chiozza gives the Wizards 18 players for camp, two under the league limit. Washington has 14 players with guaranteed contracts, with Chasson Randle expected to sign and both two-way slots filled.
- A pair of Wizards top the list of the list of the most underrated offseason acquisitions compiled by Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Howard occupies the No. 1 spot, signing a two-year deal in Washington after being traded by the Hornets and bought out by the Nets. He provides a huge defensive upgrade from Marcin Gortat, O’Connor notes, and could develop into an effective pick-and-roll partner with John Wall. Austin Rivers, who was acquired from the Clippers in the Gortat deal, ranks second on the list and should provide backcourt depth the Wizards have needed behind Wall and Bradley Beal.
- Wizards rookie Troy Brown has signed a multi-year shoe deal with Nike, tweets Nick DePaula of ESPN.
- Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. could get lost in the offensive shuffle with the addition of Dwight Howard and a healthier John Wall, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington speculates. The team has urged Porter the past two years to shoot more often, attack the basket with greater zeal and become a more vocal presence, Hughes continues. That becomes more complicated with Wall, Bradley Beal and Howard carrying more extensive resumes on the starting unit, Hughes adds.
Hornets coach James Borrego is seeking to give his team a fresh identity this season, labeling pace and ball movement as two important factors that can help the team, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer relays. Borrego was hired by the Hornets in May after spending the last three years under Gregg Popovich with the Spurs, plus a stint with San Antonio from 2003 to 2010.
“When the ball is just being pounded and one guy has it in his hands for five or six seconds – when we’re just seeing him dance with the ball – the rest of the defense just gets to relax and load up,” Borrego said. “You’re not going to be perfect all the time, but let’s put pressure on the defense constantly. … We demanded it in San Antonio. My job is to sell that to the players to do what’s best for the team.”
The Spurs are known for picking apart defenses with crisp passing, spacing and off-ball movement, and that’s exactly what Borrego hopes to bring to the Hornets this season. Charlotte helped alleviate this issue by allowing Dwight Howard, a paint-oriented player, to depart for the Wizards this summer.
There’s more from the Southeast Division:
- Although Heat forward Justise Winslow is eligible for a contract extension, it remains unclear how the team plans to use the 22-year-old, as Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel notes in an “Ask Ira” mailbag. The Heat signed Winslow’s teammate and starting forward Josh Richardson to an extension last summer.
- Heat guard Dion Waiters continues to work his way back from an ankle injury that sidelined him for most of the 2017/18 season, but the Syracuse product has yet to be cleared by a doctor for full-contact play. “Once I’m cleared from the doc it’s on,” he posted on social media, according to the Sun Sentinel.
- Dwight Howard could be the missing piece the Wizards have been seeking for quite some time, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington contests. Should he buy in, Howard’s ability to defend the rim, set effective screens and play in the pick-and-roll could pay dividends for Washington.