Washington Wizards: The Band’s Back Together

WASHINGTON, DC -  MAY 4: John Wall #2 and Otto Porter Jr. #22 of the Washington Wizards high five each other during the game against the Boston Celtics during Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs on May 4, 2017 at Verizon Center in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC -  MAY 4: John Wall #2 and Otto Porter Jr. #22 of the Washington Wizards high five each other during the game against the Boston Celtics during Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs on May 4, 2017 at Verizon Center in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld made it clear in his statement on Thursday about the re-signing of restricted free agent Otto Porter: “Our priority was to keep him here to maintain continuity and build on the success of this group heading into next season and beyond.” With the re-signing, this group, “The Band”, is back together.

There was no seismic change to the Washington Wizards’ lineup. All five starters returned. Otto Porter was like the drummer in the band, who said no one is appreciating my art, I may join another band, but never left home.

The second unit had small changes with Bojan Bogdanovic going to Indiana, and both Brandon Jennings and Trey Burke now unrestricted free agents.

I believe that the Wizards didn’t do so bad this offseason, and did better than the Boston Celtics. The Celtics got rid of one of the best defenders in the league, Avery Bradley. I was sad to see Bradley leave, because he has a very sad backstory – his mother, only 46 years old, passed away in 2013.

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Bradley started his Celtic career in the 2010-2011 season, and typical of Danny Ainge, Bradley’s contract was the best to be moved, in order to make space for Gordon Hayward. He would have been an unrestricted free agent in 2018, and eligible for a max contract.

Ainge is notorious for not wanting to pay his players, and Jae Crowder has one of the most team-friendly contracts in the league. Crowder is only getting paid $6.8 million next season, and doesn’t become an unrestricted free agent until the end of the 2020 season. If I were Crowder’s agent, I would try to move him into a better situation.

I wrote all of that to write this, that I believe that with Bradley gone, that the Wizards are in a better position to beat Boston. I don’t believe that Hayward moved the needle one iota.

Yes, the Celtics picked up Markieff Morris’ twin brother Marcus Morris, so they will have an added toughness, but they weren’t lacking in that department. Defense, similar to the Wizards, is not their strong point.

It will be funny in the Celtics’ locker room, every time Al Horford looks at Marcus, he’ll be reminded of Keef. Recall Keef picked up Horford like a baby in Game 2 in Boston, and dropped him on Ted Leonsis’ lap. Horford was shook and he’s still shaking.

When I heard that the Morris twin was being traded to Boston, I tweeted that Keef should stop talking to his brother immediately, and only call on holidays. Of course that fell on deaf ears, because those two hold an indelible bond never to be broken.

When Marcus Morris was traded to Boston, that wasn’t on my radar, and at that point, I said, now Ainge is messing with me. But the Morris brothers have battled before, so let’s let Ainge think he won that round.

Now returning to our beloved Wizards. The only thing in their way this season is themselves. Defense has to be their first and utmost priority.

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Please, for the love of basketball, don’t put up a shot, and have only the other team waiting there to grab the rebound. What are you doing at the other end of the court, when the ball is back on the other end? That was the most frustrating thing to watch all season.

I know some players like John Wall are naturally born with speed, that can’t be taught. But Marcin Gortat don’t let Horford outplay you again. You know Boston plays positionless basketball. You can’t be flatfooted at the rim, while Horford runs to the perimeter to knock down a three-pointer. Work on your speed. How can you lay down the hammer, if you can’t even catch the person you’re supposed to be defending?

John Wall, yes, I’m coming for you, your hands are almost faster than your feet. Crowder, can I get a witness? You can’t be whipping the ball to your teammate, one because they don’t see it coming, and two, you hurl it so fast, it would probably hurt them if they caught it.

Wall, please protect the ball. It doesn’t matter how many points you’re putting up, if you’re also giving away points on the other end.

You’re the best passer in the league, we witnessed you pass a ball, between an opponent’s leg while he was running. I was like is “Wall a Harlem Globetrotter all of a sudden?”

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You’re clutch, there’s no doubt about that, but unless Washington is playing Cleveland, it shouldn’t have to come down to that. Otto Porter you’re up.

Porter you can’t lead the league in 3-point shooting and not show up in the playoffs. If you didn’t score 0 points in elimination – Game 6, then Bradley Beal and Wall wouldn’t have had to put up those clutch shots.

It’s not your fault that Washington lost, that was a team effort. But please, I’m going to use my phrase again here, for the love of basketball, please be consistent. You can’t have them depending upon you to be a knockdown shooter, only to play like you’ve been knocked down. The team is relying upon you to return to form.

When Cleveland came to Washington, your play was one of the most beautiful efforts that I have ever witnessed. You had ice in your veins, as you calmly knocked down those three’s. As I sat in my living room, I thought if we could keep up that style of play for 48 minutes, we’re going to the Finals.

Porter you can become a superstar, you were that night, and you can do it consistently, just believe in yourself. The whole city is rooting for you to become who you’re destined to be.

Markieff Morris, you can call me a crybaby if you want, but here goes. Please, don’t fall back into your habit of picking up 2 quick fouls, early in the first quarter. Please don’t foul out of the game, your team needs you as well. If you didn’t foul out of Game 2 in Boston, the Wizards are winning that game.

The Celtics are a tough team, and once you left the game, our toughness left with you. Don’t even bother sitting on the scorer’s table. That table is for winners.

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Keef, just stay in the game, is that too much to ask? You’re clutch when needed, and you were needed. You let us down, and more importantly you let yourself down. You’re better than that. Don’t let the other team take you out of the game. They see your foul trouble as Washington’s weakest link.

If someone’s talking slick, let them talk slick. Let your hands do the talking. Wait a minute Keef, by hands, I mean getting buckets and rebounds. You stay in the game and we win the game.

Speaking of slick – Mr. Bradley Beal. That baby face isn’t fooling me. I see something inside of you that’s boiling, and it exploded this season with your outstanding play.

I understand why you weren’t the Most Improved Player, because everyone knew that’s the level of ball that you’re capable of playing, day in and day out. You didn’t improve, you just had a full and healthy season to show us, that you’re one of the best shooting guards in the league.

And your facial expressions gave everyone something to laugh about. Especially, the Beal Face, after the game in Boston, where you’re just “smiling” as Marcus Smart is being held back.

There was an unexpected toughness to you this season. Last season, I thought you may get hurt during warm-ups, then this season I was worried about opponents getting hurt.

Last summer you proclaimed, that you, along with Wall, are now the leaders of this team, and you took that leadership mantle by storm. I’d look over and it’s you standing up yelling at your teammates in the huddle. It’s you guarding Isaiah Thomas, the second he gets the inbounded basketball.

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You had an excellent season. And you recently said during a Summer League game, that you’re still upset about losing in the playoffs. That’s a very good sign that you’re still thinking about what went wrong and ways to improve. It shows that you expect to be in the ECF next season, and are going to push your team to be there.

People may say that the Wizards stood pat, while other teams made improvements. I agree in part, but the Wizards are going to improve, (to borrow a phrase from my mother), by leaps and bounds.

I believe that each player is going to hold the other player accountable (privately of course). Each player is going to build the other up, and instill confidence, and hold extra workout sessions.

I believe that the Wizards will minimize their weaknesses and play to their strengths. That they won’t be on to the other end of the court, while the other team is grabbing a defensive rebound. That just because a center is listed as a center, don’t be surprised to see him playing at the two. And they will keep their composure, and not foul out because they are needed.

Next: Wiz Officially Announce Re-Signing of Otto Porter

I believe we have the making of a number one record. And that the band will beat the drum slowly towards the Eastern Conference Finals.