More #KD2DC swag.
The dream of Kevin Durant returning to Washington, DC is still alive and well — just in case anyone was checking.
The latest puzzle piece to nestle into place? The rumor that Durant will be moving on from his longtime partnership with Nike to sign an incredibly massive $325 million endorsement deal with Under Armour.
And the rub? Under Armour headquarters is located in Durant’s home state of Maryland.
Will I continue to feed this monster? Yes I will — ’til the summer of ’16 when KD is donning a fly-ass Wizards jersey.
Some fans enjoy the NBA summer league. Others hate it.
If I had to guess, I’d say a majority tend to lean toward the “hate it” side. Why? Lots of reasons, really. But things like “sloppy play”, “who the hell is this kid?”, and “is that so-and-so’s brother’s nephew’s cousin?” probably top the list.
Anyway, the conclusion of the Las Vegas summer league (congrats, Sacramento?) means another chapter of the NBA offseason in the books, which then gives us the opportunity to hand out praise and criticism to our beloved Washington Wizards for their two-week layover in Sin City.
Here’s a look at the good and bad from Washington’s summer league stay.
Beal then added commentary of his own, giving us the best 16 words of the tournament and helping complete a truly special moment in Theis’ young career.
I don’t know his name — I think he’s from overseas — but that was a good block. - Bradley Beal, nevermore
So who really is Daniel Theis? I have no idea. I don’t think anyone does. Even DraftExpress.com didn’t have much info outside of his vitals (6’9″, 215 lbs), his age (22), his hometown (Braunschweig, Germany), and his Eurocup stats from last season. But following five games with the Wiz this summer, the athletic power forward with the blonde comb-over averaged 6.6 points, six boards and nearly two blocks a game. Definitely cool.
Wizards go 5-1 in Las Vegas, the Jrs. (Glen Rice and Otto Porter) find their mojo, Sam Cassell is a valuable asset, I still like Khem Birch (and for some reason Daniel Orton too), maybe someone knows who Daniel Theis is by now (but probably not), and the Deonte Burton balloon (if there ever was one) has already gone flat.
So long, summer league.
I’m not sure where this ends up on the fandom gauge, but I’m willing to label myself thrilled regarding the Wizards acquiring DeJuan Blair from Dallas.
I wrote more about it at numberFire, which includes reasons why I refer to him as DeJuan Bear, how he fits in Washington, and why he’s an upgrade for the Wizards.
Often times it’s difficult to make sense of Ernie Grunfeld making sense, but Wizards fans shouldn’t have too many gripes this summer. The Washington front office is pulling all the strings to improve (or replenish in some instances) a second-round playoff team from just a few months ago.
Sticking to the offseason script of subtle, efficient, and cost-effective, the Wizards acquired 25-year-old forward DeJuan Blair from the Dallas Mavericks in a sign-and-trade that will send the Mavs a $2.1 million trade exception (which was acquired by Washington when they traded Eric Maynor to Philadelphia last season).
Not to be a Washington homer, but this is another move that belongs under the “good” column for the Wizards. Here’s a brief breakdown of the transaction.
Blair’s new contract with the Wizards is reported to be a three-year deal, worth $6 million. And wouldn’t ya know it – the final year of the contract comes as a team option.
Not to harp on the issue, but the Wizards’ intent is becoming more and more obvious with every signing. Like the two-year deal for Paul Pierce, and the three-year deal for Kris Humphries, the Wizards are constructing all new contracts with the summer of 2016 in mind – when hometown hero Kevin Durant becomes a free agent.
It should also be noted that, in terms of future cap room, the Wizards are preparing to pay Bradley Beal - the 21-year-old two-guard the team drafted third-overall in 2012 and have watched developed into a promising NBA star.
Additionally, what’s great about Blair’s contract (and Humphries’ contract, for that matter) is the fact that the team-option is extremely affordable. Say the dream does come true for Wizards fans and Durant returns to DC – the Wizards could essentially bring back solid frontcourt depth in the form of both Humphries and Blair for less than $6.5 million (estimated).
When it comes to rotational players like Blair, referring to per-game statistics can be a bit misleading. Take Blair’s production from last season for example, where averaging 6.4 points and 4.7 rebounds per game tends to scream mediocrity.
But when you consider the fact Blair posted those numbers while averaging less than 16 minutes per outing, reception changes. Stretch that kind of output over the course of 36 minutes (i.e. a starting role) and you get an impressive 14.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, more than two assists, and nearly two steals.
Unlike Humphries who can drift away from the paint to knockdown jumpers, a majority of Blair’s scoring will come from within 10 feet of the bucket. Despite being an undersized big man at 6’7″, Blair makes up for it with his 265-pound frame. He’s strong and bulky, easily eating up space down low and playing with great anticipation in order to provide himself with clean-up opportunities and cutting finishes around the rim.
After the departure of Trevor Booker, and with the looming possibility of Kevin Seraphin leaving Washington for more money elsewhere, the Wizards are beefing up their frontcourt depth and arguably improving what they had last season.
Blair may not be a defensive stalwart, but you won’t be left questioning whether or not he’s fighting for position or looking to secure a board. And by just barely out-rebounding their opponents on average last season (42.2/42.1 per game), the Wizards were clearly looking to add feisty rebounding types.
There’s also some position versatility that comes with Blair, as he’s able to fill-in at center if need be. Although not the rim-protector type, Blair once again falls back on his ability to carve space in the paint and fight for boards. Last season in Dallas, Blair played a career-high 36 percent of his minutes at center.
The Wizards’ current starting frontcourt of Marcin Gortat and Nene, albeit effective and strong, does require some insurance. Although the Polish Hammer plays more like he’s 28 than 30, Nene is 31 and hasn’t played more than 61 games in a season in three years.
As an added bonus, Blair brings with him valuable experience and work ethic, despite becoming the fifth-youngest player on the Wizards roster. In addition to being a part of arguably the best organization in the league for four seasons in San Antonio, Blair has been to the playoffs in each of his five NBA seasons, and has strung together solid production to the tune of 17 points, 13 boards, nearly two assists, and better than two steal per 36 minutes, with a 24.4 career playoffs PER.
Again, this is odd for Wizards fans. The front office is making quality moves, while remaining prudent, and relatively under the radar. And for the first time in a long time, Wizards fans can boast (at least a little) about their team’s frontcourt depth. From a net perspective, the Wizards upgraded their talent from Booker and Seraphin (who hasn’t left town just yet) to Humphries and Blair, and for a lower cost to boot.
Blair is a guy I’m willing to believe in, which may stem entirely from the fact that I was banging the table for the Wizards to draft him early in the second round five years ago, and instead they drafted some dude name Jermaine Taylor who they then sold to Houston only never to be heard from ever again.
Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because per-36-minutes stats have consumed me when it comes to gauging rotational players and, in that case, DeJuan Blair is just as beastly on a stat sheet as he appears in person.
Helping themselves gear up for — dare we say it? — the playoffs, the Wizards pulled off a three-team trade at the deadline on Thursday to bring veteran point guard Andre Miller to Washington, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports.
In exchange, the Wizards send former sixth-overall pick Jan Vesely to Denver, as well as guard Eric Maynor and a second-round pick in 2015 to Philadelphia. The 76ers will also receive a second-rounder from the Nuggets.
What the Wizards Gain
A 38-year-old point guard in Miller who is making $5 million this season, and $4.6 million in 2014/15 (only $2 million of which is guaranteed). He’s an intelligent playmaker with great passing skills and a trusted veteran in crunch situations.
What the Wizards Give Up
It’s never good when you ship off a guy you drafted sixth-overall just three years prior, but Jan Vesely (aka AirWolf, JaniV) and his 3.5 points per game wasn’t getting it done in Washington. Although us fans seemed to enjoy him, it typically had nothing to do with his on-court performance.
As for Eric Maynor — we went from being satisfied with him as a backup, to making social media accounts named after his horrific floater, to creating slow-motion Vines of his facial expressions while he rode the bench.
Maynor’s overused tweet of “wheels up” certainly wouldn’t be an accurate description of his brief stint in Washington. That project never, ever got off the ground.
And let’s worry about the Wizards drafting efficiently in the first round before we get all pretentious about finding diamonds in the rough. No one will miss that second-round pick.
Why Did the Wizards Make the Trade?
Believe it or not, the Wizards have a really good shot at making the playoffs. And if they want to have any chance at doing anything of note, they needed to add depth at point guard.
And don’t forget Bradley Beal’s minute restriction. Adding Miller will allow for the Wizards to better cushion themselves when Beal’s on the bench.
Where Does the New Guy Fit?
We’ll have to wait and see. It’ll be interesting to see how many minutes Miller plays and where they come from.
Wall’s playing time (currently 37 MPG — tied for 10th in the NBA) may decline a tad, but only for his own good. And assuming the Wizards have Beal’s minute limit in mind, Miller has the ability to play off the ball, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see he and Wall on the floor together.
In simplest form, Miller’s going to log more productive minutes than Vesely and Maynor combined. Adding a savvy veteran who can handle the ball can’t be a bad thing, right?
I like the move for the Wizards in their current situation. I like Andre Miller and I think he’s a good personality for the team.
That said — while we were all pretty much through writing our short story on AirWolf in Washington anyway — calling a flop a flop is never easy when it’s your team. We can now definitively say the Wizards wasted the No. 6-overall pick in 2011. 1
Did a belated Valentine’s date keep you away from the television? Did you wisely decide to watch three hours of House of Cards instead of tormenting yourself with pregame All-Star game entertainment? No fear! You’re all covered by way of this convenient and invaluable list of random observations from the night that was — bringing a whole new meaning to the term “live blog”.
- R&B performance by some guy name Mack Wilds, who looks a lot like Mike from…HOLY SHIT THAT’S MIKE FROM THE WIRE! Mack Wilds’ real name is Tristan Wilds, who’s best known (at least by me) for his role as Michael Lee in The Wire — one of the greatest television series of all-time.
- Following Mack Wilds was Jason Derulo. He lip synced about lipstick on his passport and recounted the glory days of 2010 with a performance of “Ridin’ Solo”. So perfect.
- Skylar Diggins in street clothes sighting.
- A pregame preface of sorts by Bunk Moreland…I mean, Wendell Pierce. Although I’ll always know him as Jimmy McNulty’s drinking buddy and detective partner in The Wire, Pierce is a New Orleans native and also famous for his role in Treme — a New Orleans-based HBO series.
- Indiana Pacers forward Paul George arrived at the arena in camo pants and a suit jacket. Style.
- Terrence J hosting > Nick Cannon doing anything?
- Speak of the devil! We can’t seem to escape the miserable presence that is Nick Cannon. And my goodness, he seems to have come a long way from last night’s atrocious white suit, stepping out in an equally heinous leather hat and fur.
- Somebody allowed Charles Barkley access to the White House and he interviewed the POTUS. The exchange was routine, but Barkley deserves credit for a job well done. Like most basketball broadcasts, Sir Charles retains his position as all-time MVP.
- That said, no one helped Charles with his tie knot. Saggy, sloppy and sideways.
- Highlighting Saturday night’s dunk contest makes it look like it was a fun event. Not fooled.
- Craig Sager’s suit looks like he trimmed down a kimono.
- Pharell takes the stage to kickoff the game, doing a fine job. But then Nelly comes out and performs Hot in Herre, completely disassembling the fun. Somewhere Kevin Harlan is jammin’.
- But wait, there’s more. Nelly no sooner exits the stage, and P. Diddy and a much larger (fatter) Busta Rhymes join Pharell to perform Pass the Courvoisier, Part II. Oh yes.
- A fantastic rebound takes place as Pharell and Chad Hugo perform Rockstar — an N.E.R.D. classic. It only lasts a minute or two before Snoop Dogg joins the stage to recite Beautiful.
- Pharell packed more punch in five minutes than Nick Cannon did in four hours the night before.
- Intro of the Western Conference lineup (the Eastern squad was announced somewhere in the Pharell-led performance too) and that insanely catchy tune Happy is performed, with Pharell being joined on stage one last time by the whole crew — Busta Rhymes, Diddy, Nelly and Snoop.
- Screenshot of Drake amidst “O Canada”, because Justin Bieber’s on house arrest.
- Gary Clark Jr. performs the Star Spangled Banner. No lyrics, just electric slide guitar. Beautiful. And Gary continues to be the coolest dude on the planet. Unfortunately, players don’t appear anywhere near as excited as I am.
- And then the world’s greatest pickup game started. With about eight minutes left to go in the first half, I retired to reheated prime rib, Gordon’s fish sticks and au gratin potatoes.
- West leads the East 89-76 at halftime. The West could’ve put themselves ahead by 15 heading into the half, but Kevin Durant decided to pull up on a 3-on-none fast break to brick a three-pointer with a couple seconds left, BECAUSE ALL-STAR GAME BIA! And because the Durantula can do no wrong.
- Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue completely kill the halftime show. If you’ve never seen them live, try and change that.
- The same goes for Gary Clark Jr., but multiply it by 682.
- Two All-Stars with Washington-area roots: Roy Hibbert and Kevin Durant.
- Have to wonder how All-Star game halftimes look like in the locker room. Hotdogs? Candy? Lots of Beats headphones? Absolutely no strategic element, right?
- At the 9:06 mark in the third quarter, Reggie Miller throws out all kinds of smart with, “At some point, the East are going to have get serious on defense.” It’s 99-89.
- Not sure if it’s been mentioned already, but the NBA went through with it and put sleeves on these jerseys.
- I wish Anthony Davis played for the Wizards.
- Just a reminder that this arena is named the Smoothie King Center.
- The East made a comeback, defeating the West 163-155.
- Kevin Durant led the West with 38 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Kyrie Irving (All-Star MVP) led the East with 31 points, five rebounds and 14 assists, which will give baseless fans a little more ammo in their argument for Irving > Wall.
- Also to note, Blake Griffin scored 38 on 19-of-23 shooting. Meanwhile, Stephen Curry and Kevin Love combined for just 9-of-25.
- Most points scored in All-Star game history. Accomplishment?
“John Wall just brought the slam dunk contest back.”
Those were Magic Johnson’s words following Wall’s reverse pump slam that earned him “Dunker of the Night” honors in Saturday night’s NBA Dunk Contest — an event that lasted about four times longer than it needed to.
While Wall represented the Wizards well, it was the awkwardness of the competition and its new format that stole the show.
1. Nick Cannon was your host for the evening.
2. Nick Cannon wore a white suit that not even Mariah Carey would endorse.
3. The crowd had ZERO involvement. And when I say zero, I mean Harrison Barnes could have heard a single fan screaming “You’re a robot!” from the nosebleeds if any fan actually cared enough to do so.
4. The new format felt forced and unnecessary. No one was having fun.
5. Drake was used as a prop in Terrence Ross’ battle round.
6. Did we mention Nick Cannon yet?
7. Kevin Harlan responded to a mention of Nelly — who was sitting courtside — by saying, “It must be getting hot in here.” As a result, fellow commentators Reggie Miller and Steve Kerr struck him down with lightning, and did so violently. “You really didn’t just say that, did you Kevin?” (This brutal ordeal may have actually occurred during the 3-point contest. I’m not really sure. Not like it matters, though. The whole night was a fat cluster of clumsiness.)
8. The judges were forced to use iPads rather than old-fashioned posterboard & sharpie to display their given scores. Dr. Julius Erving appeared to struggle mightily with this.
9. Poor Ernie Johnson. Thanks to the new rules, he had no idea where he was or what he was doing. And to help him along, he had Shaq and Charles Barkley. Dammit, Ernie! *slams two fists on table* We’re all sorry!
10. Nick Cannon deserves a fourth mention in a 10-point list. He earned it. More than just the ridiculous suit and the corny jokes, the dude is unbearable. Does anyone turn on a broadcast, see Nick Cannon and then suddenly feel this overcoming emotion of “Oh my goodness, this is going to be thrilling and fantastic!”? No.
Can’t wait for the All-Star game!
After earning his first trip to the NBA All-Star game, Wizards point guard John Wall sat down with Grantland’s Bill Simmons as part of a special interview series taking place in New Orleans this weekend.
The interview lasts about 17 minutes, but the juice is squeezed for you below.
At the 12:53 mark, Simmons asks Wall if he prefers the Wizards or the Bullets. And ever so brilliantly, Wall responds, “I love the Wizards, but I like the Bullets thing. I like they way their jerseys were. And I like the name. But I’m a Washington Wizard and I love it.”
Preach, preach, preach. Had Wall added a shout for America at the end of that response, he’d likely find his name on the ticket for 2016.
Then, after Wall gave some love to Washington fans, Simmons asks, “You kinda threw out the Kevin Durant/Washington thing didn’t you?”
Without missing a beat, Wall replies, “Yeah, I did.”
“I enjoyed that,” Simmons says, with a grin. “So did I,” Wall said.
“Do players recruit each other?” Simmons asks. “Oh yeah,” said Wall. “I think guys get an opportunity to be around each other for All-Star break, definitely talk to guys.”
So quid pro quo, yada yada yada, boom boom pow, and we can all rest easy this weekend knowing that John Wall and Kevin Durant are talking about how beautifully magical it would be to team up in Washington for the 2016/17 season.
Enjoy All-Star weekend.
Because why the hell not?
MJ the GOAT playing beer pong while dressed in himself — Jordan XI kicks, an AIR tshirt and some khaki shorts (also likely Jumpman).
Despite being 50 years old, something tells me Jordan calling next on your beer pong table is a little different than your girlfriend’s father stepping up to bury you in 10-cup.
The Washington Wizards made a large splash last Friday when they sent center Emeka Okafor and a 2014 first-round pick to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for center Marcin Gortat, Shannon Brown, Kendall Marshall and Malcolm Lee.
My thoughts and opinion surrounding the deal were put on the back burner for the weekend for a couple of reasons.
1.) I felt like I was in the minority in terms of liking the trade,
2.) that made me feel somewhat guilty.
Many are quick to call this deal a scramble job by Washington, blaming them for hastily sending away a valuable draft pick in order to better their chances at fulfilling a preseason promise for the playoffs in 2013.
I tend to think it was a smart deal by general Ernie Grunfeld in the final year of his deal.
For the first time in what feels like forever (DC’s last postseason appearance was 07-08), the Wizards entered this season with a legitimate chance at the playoffs. There was John Wall with his massive new max deal, Bradley Beal entering his second season after a promising rookie campaign and Emeka Okafor and Nene holding down the frontcourt.
Then Okafor went down with a herniated disc and the Wizards were suddenly left with a not-so-durable Nene playing center and a 31-year-old Okafor on the bench with a bad back due to make $14.5 million.
Would the Wizards have made the playoffs without Okafor? I guess you could argue they could. But does anyone really think Nene can stay healthy for an entire 82 games?
I don’t. And without Nene, the Wizards don’t make it with Jan Vesely, Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin logging significant minutes.
Across the way in the desert, the 29-year-old Marcin Gortat was entering the final year of his deal, perhaps growing a bit agitated given the Suns current roster position.
Due to his desirable skill set in the trade market and Phoenix GM Ryan McDonough’s craving for as many first-round as he can get his hands on by next summer, Gortat was the perfect trade bait for all parties involved.
Because the Polish Hammer is set to make $7.7 million this year, the Suns were required to throw in additional pieces in order for the money to work. That’s where guys like Kendall Marshall (!), Shannon Brown and Malcolm Lee came into play. But according to reports, the Wizards aren’t expected to keep any of the additional fluff — making no Marshall in Washington probably the most disappointing part of the whole deal.
Although the departure of Okafor also means kissing his efficient defense goodbye, Gortat brings more offense to a Wizards team that ranked dead last in points scored per game last season.
Not to mention, the amount of content written by knowledgable roundball guys about how good Gortat is in the pick-and-roll is, quite honestly, the most excited I’ve been about a big man in Washington since becoming eager about Andray Blatche’s “potential” in 2007.
For at least a season, the Wizards have a true center. A guy that can score, defend, move, rebound — and perhaps more importantly — allow Nene to return to his more natural power forward position.
Obviously giving up future draft picks isn’t a real comfortable feeling. Not when you’re the Wizards, anyway. And that’s what gives me that guilty feeling.
The unknown, or what could be in terms of that draft choice, is scary to give up. But it’s also important to remind yourself that it’s a protected top-12 pick, meaning the Wizards hang on to it if they wind up sucking something awful and picking somewhere inside the top-12.
So here I am confessing my love for the trade, while cautiously waiting to see what would’ve fallen to the Wizards — in what’s supposed to be a loaded 2014 draft class — had they held on to their first-rounder, a crippled Okafor and maybe an eighth seed in the East.
Happy basketball season.