Is Satoransky finally coming to DC?

Sports

satoransky

(This article was originally written for WizardsXtra)

When Tomas Satoransky, the Washington Wizards’ 32nd pick of the 2012 draft, signed a four year extension with FC Barcelona in March, everyone believed that he was out of the Wizards’ the picture for the near future.

However, according to an report from Nikos Varlas of Eurohoops, the Wizards are actively pursuing the option of bringing over Satoransky for the 2016-2017 season. He writes, “according to Eurohoops sources from the US, the Wizards have decided to offer a multiyear guaranteed deal to Satoransky and pay the buy out of his new contract with Barcelona. The price of the buy out clause for this summer is $1.5 million.”

The possible deal is something to keep an eye on this off-season, as it carries some interesting salary cap implications for this summer. According to the CBA FAQ:

NBA teams signing international players are allowed to pay a buyout to the player’s team or organization in order to release the player to sign in the NBA. The buyout amount is a matter of negotiation between the player and the international team or organization. NBA teams are allowed to pay up to the Excluded International Player Payment Amount, and this amount is not charged to the team salary. Any amount above the Excluded International Player Payment Amount comes out of the player’s (after-tax) salary, and therefore is included in the team’s team salary.

It is a common misconception that a buyout cannot exceed the excluded amount. On the contrary, buyouts can exceed the excluded amount, but any amount above the excluded amount essentially comes out of the player’s paycheck. For example, if a team’s second round pick in 2011 has a $1 million buyout, the team can use its (Non-Taxpayer or Taxpayer) Mid-Level exception to sign the player. […} The amount above the excluded amount is charged to the team’s team salary as a signing bonus.

If Satoransky does join the team this summer, he is expected to give the bench unit a much needed boost right away. 

In an interview with CSN Mid-Atlantic, David Pick, one of the leading international basketball reporters, said, “He is already one the toughest, best two-way guards in Europe.”

For FC Barcelona this past season, Satoransky averaged 9.6 points, 4.3 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 24 minutes in 58 games while shooting 38.9 percent from behind the international three-point line. 

The 24-year-old also has a skill-set that is transferable to the NBA. At 6-foot-7-inches, he has the length that is necessary to be effective defensively. He also has court vision that is considered to be top notch overseas.

Since the Wizards are looking to getting younger this off-season, adding Satoransky to the roster would make sense as he would be added to the team’s core along with Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre and Markieff Morris in the frontcourt and Beal and Wall in the backcourt. 

Of course, there are still plenty of questions regarding his game and ability to be an NBA player. Even though none of this is guaranteed yet, it seems if though Washington is ready to finally give him a chance.

Advertisements

Wizards Introduce New Head Coach Scott Brooks

Uncategorized
Wizards

Picture taken by Bryna Kramer

(This article was originally written for WizardsXtra)

The Washington Wizards officially introduced Scott Brooks as the franchise’s new head coach during a press conference Wednesday afternoon at the Verizon Center.

The Wizards and Brooks agreed to terms last Thursday after Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld and Vice President Tommy Sheppard visited Brooks in California to seal the deal. According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, both parties agreed to a five-year deal worth $35 million. Brooks, 50, is now one of the six highest-paid coaches in the NBA.

During his time as the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, he had a .620 winning percentage during the regular season and made three trips to the Western Conference Finals plus a trip to the NBA Finals in 2012. He was also named the NBA’s coach of the year in 2010.

Here’s a summary of the major points from today’s press conference:

On hiring Brooks:

Grunfeld, who spoke first at the press conference, said that Brooks was the organization’s top candidate. “We just felt like he was right coach for our situation,” he said. “His record speaks for itself. He’s been where we want to be and where we want to go to.”

Ted Leonsis, the majority owner of the Washington Wizards, echoed these sentiments. “Ernie and I really believe that this was the right hire for our team,” he said. “We thought that, in this off-season, bringing Scott in, who was the most sought after coach out there, was the right thing to do.” 

On Brooks’ decision to sign with the Wizards now rather than waiting:

Brooks took last season off after he coached the Oklahoma City Thunder for six-plus seasons.

During this time away from the game, Brooks said he had “the luxury to really reflect on the things I’ve done in the past, and what I want to accomplish in the future.”

He said he came away from this time off knowing that “you have to have an outstanding owner, and we have that in Ted, you have to have a great leader in your general manager and president, and we have that in Ernie, and you have to have a great roster.”

Brooks said he looked at these things and realized that this is the team, when it became available, that he wanted. “I got everything I wanted. I wasn’t looking for anything else. This is where I wanted to be.”

On Brooks’ coaching style and player development:

One of the issues with the Wizards’ squad this past season was that all players were supposedly not being held accountable. When asked about this and what Brooks would do to change this culture, he said, “I love our players and you have to hold your players accountable.  But I always felt that the best teams in the history of this great sport have been teams that have held each other accountable. We will have that and we will work on it on a daily basis.”

Brooks, prior to joining the Wizards, had a reputation is being a players’ coach; he is credited with helping develop the likes of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka. However, he was regularly criticized for his offensive sets, lineup configurations and substitution patterns.

In terms of his plans for player development with the Wizards, Brooks said, “I love developing players … Once we are all committed to being an NBA player, we’re NBA players. Once you get drafted or you get picked up, you’re an NBA player. I’ll coach everybody from the guy that plays the most minutes to the guy that doesn’t play a lot minutes. I will coach them with every thing I have and I will build a staff that believes in the same philosophies that I believe.”

Brooks elaborated on the what that looks like: “Developing players isn’t just on the court. It’s off the court, its in the film room, its in how you talk to each other. It’s a variety of things… it’s challenging at times.” 

On John Wall:

With John Wall being the leader of the Wizards, Brooks was asked about his expectations for the three-time all star. He said that he expects all players, including John, to come back after this summer as better players. “I think John has another level. He’s been a three time All-Star. That’s incredible in itself… He has another level. Maybe even two or three more level.”

Brooks elaborated on this by specifically talking about his relationship with Wall moving forward: “Point guards are the coach on the floor. We will have a connection. We won’t agree on everything. But John and the rest of the guys will understand one thing, that we will find the best way to move forward in all situations. A lot of times it won’t be my way, it’ll be our way.”

On KD2DC:

Eventually, someone asked question on everyone’s mind: Is Brooks going to help sign upcoming free-agent Kevin Durant?

Brooks and Durant’s close relationship has sparked speculation that he was hired solely to help lure Durant back home to Washington this summer. Prior to the press conference, Grunfeld made it clear that he hired Brooks for reasons other than Durant; he wanted a coach that could foster the Wizards core’s development, rekindle their defensive identity, and had experience winning.

At the press conference, Brooks deftly avoided the question by focusing on the current team. “I’m excited about the team,” he said. “This is a great group of guys. I understand the question, but I’m excited about the group of guys we have here.”

On Washington, D.C. and Wizards’ fans:

Another topic at the Brooks was the Washington, D.C. community, specifically his thoughts on the impact he might have in the community.

“I love [the DMV area],” he said. “This has always been one of my favorite places to play as a player and as to coach in this great community. It’s a great fan base. They love their basketball. I’m thrilled and excited, honored and humbled to be in this community.” 

Later on, he ended the press conference by answering a question about Wizards’ fans, specifically why fans should not give up on the team after they did not make the playoffs. “Fans deserve to have a team that competes every year in the playoffs. We’ve had great fans over the years. We will put a product on the floor that they can be proud of, because that’s important. It’s important for our players to understand that our job is to play hard for our fans every night. This market is incredible. We have a global fan base and we can reach all over the world. We have an obligation, night in and night out, to play at the level that we are capable of playing at. I’m looking forward to continuing to connect our team with our fans.”

Which D-League Players Should the Wizards Look At?

Sports

ts_150413vanderblue

(This article was originally written for WizardsXtra)

It is clear that the Wizards are going to be making some changes this off-season. Last summer, the front office failed to build a team that could run with John Wall and somewhat resemble the modern pace-and-space game. Instead, they opted to re-sign their veteran players and add others that were already past the prime of their respective careers. It hurt the team and, as a result, the Wizards did not make the playoffs. This summer is already looking to be different. With Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre and Markieff Morris, who are all under the age of 26, making up the team’s core, it seems as if the Wizards might finally be shifting towards a youth-centered identity.

However, they need to add some other fresh talent to fill up the remaining roster spots instead of adding more, to put in bluntly, “washed up” veterans.

If they really want to add fresh talent, they should look at the NBA’s Development League (D-League). It is the perfect place try and find new pieces since its purpose is to groom and develop players, coaches, officials, trainers, and front office staff for the next step into the NBA.

Here are four D-League players that I think the Wizards should strongly consider.

Andre Ingram: Ingram played in all 50 regular season games this year. In 26.4 minutes of play, he averaged 10.4 points while shooting an impressive 49.0 percent from the field and 49.6 percent from three. Back in February, Ingram competed in the D-League’s three-point contest during the 2016 NBA All-Star Weekend in Toronto, Canada. Through two rounds of the contest, Ingram hit 39 of 50 attempts (78.0%), scoring 27 points in the final round to defeat Westchester Knicks guard Jimmer Fredette and match Klay Thompson’s, a member of the 2015 Champion Golden State Warriors and one of the best shooters in the NBA, score in the NBA’s version of the contest later that night.

Ingram would be a great addition to the Wizards because of his shooting ability. He’s one of the best shooters in D-League history, as evident by the fact that he is the all time D-League leader for made 3 point field goals with 583 and counting. Even though at 30 years old he might be considered too “old” to earn an NBA call-up, he has the experience and the skills that would make him a great teammate for the Wizards’ young core.

Jarnell Stokes: Stokes began the 2015-2016 season with the Miami Heat, playing 16 games on assignment with the Sioux Falls Skyforce, before being traded to New Orleans on February 18 and waived by the Pelicans one day later.  He joined the Skyforce’s roster permanently on February 27. In his 28 total games with the Skyforce, Stokes averaged 20.6 points in 30.7 minutes of play while shooting an exceptional 67.0 percent from the field and 44.0 percent from three. He also earned some accolades this season as he was selected to be a 2016 NBA D-League All-Star and was named the 2015-16 NBA Development League Most Valuable Player by the league’s 19 head coaches. 

Stokes would be a great addition to the Wizards because he’s a big man with impressive offensive skills. He’s able to use his body inside the paint to command a double team. But, his finesse allows him to slip past a double team for a basket or set up a teammate for an open shot. While at 6’ 9” he is a bit undersized for a center, he would make a great backup for Marcin Gortat on this squad.

Cory Jefferson: Jefferson joined the Bakersfield Jam this season after being waived by the Phoenix Suns and then later leaving the Suns after not being offered a contract following two ten-day contracts with them. In 19 games with the Jam, he’s averaging 17.3 points and 9.8 rebounds on shooting 50.4 percent from the field and 40 percent from three. His play helped lead the Jam to a 10-6 record after they were just 12-19 before he joined them.

Jefferson would be a great addition to the Wizards because he provides front court depth. At 25 years old, he’s a young, versatile player which makes him the perfect addition to the young core the Wizards already have. This season he has added a workable jump shot into his game while also getting back to his roots as a scorer in the post, both of which would be useful for the Wizards as they move towards a more pace-and-space centered offense.

Vander Blue: Since he joined the D-Fenders in the 2014-2015 season, Blue has been a two-time NBA D-League All Star. In 48 games this season, Blue is averaging 26.3 points on 44.0 percent shooting from the field and 33.0 percent shooting from the three in 38.3 minutes of play.

Blue would be a great addition to the Wizards because he has become the most dynamic scorer in the D-League. Night in and night out, he either looks for his shot by moving without the ball or creates his own shot if one is not available. At the same time, his play is not selfish; he also uses his creativity to help create opportunities for others. Just take a moment to watch some clips of him on Youtube. Then, picture him out on the floor with John Wall. Yeah, that would be a lot of fun to watch.

Staying or Leaving? Wizards Unrestricted Free Agents

Sports
Wizards 8

Photo Credit: Monumental Sports Network

(This article was originally written for WizardsXTRA)

Now that the Wizards are officially in the off-season, the team has already started to make some big changes including firing their head coach Randy Wittman.

But the Wizards will make some major changes to the roster as well. While the Wizards are expected to be active in pursuing free agents from other teams this upcoming summer, they will also have to make decisions regarding their 9 free agents.

Let’s take a look at who does, and does not, have a shot at returning.

Alan Anderson

2015-2016 Season: Anderson averaged a carer low 5.0 points and 2.1 rebounds in only 13 games this season, after he signed a one-year $4 million deal in the off season. His left ankle required bone spur surgery this past summer, something the Wizards knew about when they signed him. Once he started working out again, it continued to irritate him and he was nowhere near ready for training camp. There was a second left ankle surgery in October to remove a loose bone fragment which pushed back his return until after the All-Star break. 

Thoughts about next season: While Anderson’s personality and leadership off the floor has been an asset to the team this past season, his future in Washington remains unclear. John Wall has already endorsed him as one of the three players he would to have back on the team. Anderson has also made it clear that he would like to be back in a Wizards uniform this fall. However, can the Wizards afford to take a risk on him again? My gut reaction says no, but I would not be upset if he did return.

Jared Dudley

2015-2016 Season: Dudley averaged 7.9 points and 3.5 rebounds in 81 games. He ended the season shooting 42.0 percent from the three, which landed him in the top 10 across the league. As a stretch 4, Dudley was able to hit big shots, deliver great passes, keep the offensive flow going, and defend perimeter.

Thoughts about next season: Though he was also one of players that Wall said he wanted back, it is unclear how much the Wizards would be willing to spend on him moving forward. Dudley made just over $4 million this past season, but he could make a lot more than that this off-season on the open market. Dudley is open to coming back as long as the price is right. My gut feeling is that the Wizards will try to keep him around for another season.

Jarell Eddie

2015-2016 Season: Eddie averaged 2.4 points in 26 games this season after signing in late December when Ryan Hollins was waived from the team. Most of his appearances came at the end of blowout games.

Thoughts about next season: Despite the garbage playing time, he proved himself in the time he got. He does have a non-guaranteed contract for minimum salary next season, which, combined with his potential, makes him seem like he could be a good option off the bench for the Wizards moving forward.

Drew Gooden

2015-2016 Season: Gooden averaged 2.8 points and 2.9 rebounds in only 29 appearances this season. He didn’t play from Nov. 17 to Jan. 1 because of a calf injury only to re-injure it later on. When he returned, he could not crack the rotation and he was not able to play at the same level that helped make the Wizards into the postseason the last two seasons.

Thoughts about next season: While he has a non-guaranteed contract for next season, it’s a only a team option to meet CBA requirements when he signed the deal last summer under Early Bird Rights. Therefore, despite Gooden recently telling CSNmidatlantic.com that he was not planning on retiring, he will most likely not return to the Wizards this fall.

Nene

2015-2016 Season: Nene averaged 9.2 points and 4.5 rebounds in 57 games this season. Despite missing a significant amount of time this season due to injuries, he remained the team’s best post scorer and best passing big man.

Thoughts about next season: He made $13 million in the final year of his deal and definitely will not command anywhere near that in the open market. While it’s unclear whether or not he is looking to play another season or retire from the game all together, one thing is clear:  Nene will not be back in a Wizards uniform this fall.

Ramon Sessions

2015-2016 Season: Sessions averaged 9.9 points and 2.9 assists in 82 games this season. In his first full season with the Wizards, he was able to fully embrace his role on the team, as a facilitator off the bench. He was even able to play a role this season by playing side by side with Wall in the backcourt during Bradley Beal’s absence.

Thoughts about next season: Sessions has proved himself as a reliable backup point guard and scoring, meaning he will definitely get offers from other teams in free agency. Due to his consistent play and health this season, the Wizards should offer him a slight raise in order to keep him on the the team as the number two option behind John Wall.

Garrett Temple

2015-2016 Season: Temple averaged 7.3 points and 1.8 assists in 80 games this season. Temple finally got his chance to shine when he started 43 games for Bradley Beal, who was out with injuries. Temple was respected by both his teammates and Coach Wittman for his defense-first mentality, work ethic and improved three-point shooting.

Thoughts about next season: Temple was the last player that Wall said he wanted to have back on the team next season. Because of this, his improvement this season, and the fact that he comes relatively inexpensive, he will most likely be back with the Wizards for another season.

Marcus Thornton and JJ Hickson

2015-2016 Season: Thornton averaged 8.4 points and 1.4 assists in only 14 games while Hickson averaged 4.6 points and 3.0 rebounds in only 15 games. Both Thornton and Hickson get lumped together because they were brought on to the team late in the season. Hickson was signed to an open roster spot after Kris Humphries and Dejuan Blair were traded as part of a package to Phoenix in exchange for Markeiff Morris. Thornton was signed after Gary Neal was released and Bradley Beal was still out injured.

Thoughts about next season: It’s difficult to assess exactly where these players stand given their little time here, respectively. But my guess is that neither player will remain a Wizard moving forward.