October 21, 2014

REPORT: Wizards trade Okafor & pick to Suns for Marcin Gortat

According to multiple sources, the Washington Wizards on Friday traded Emeka Okafor and a protected 2014 first round draft pick to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for center Marcin Gortat, Shannon Brown, Kendall Marshall and Malcolm Lee. According to The Washington Post, the team expects to release Brown, Marshall and Lee.

“We have solidified our frontcourt by adding a player who has established himself as a very consistent and productive inside presence over the last three seasons,” Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld said via press release.  “Marcin’s ability to rebound, defend and score will allow us to continue where we left off last season and pushes us further toward our goal of becoming a playoff team.”

Gortat, 6’11”, 240, averaged 11.1 points and 8.5 rebounds last season for the Suns. He missed the last 21 games of the season with a right foot injury, though he did play summer ball in his native Poland. Gortat is in the last year of a contract that will pay him $7.7 million this season.

Okafor has missed the Wizards training camp with a herniated disk in his neck and it’s still to be determined when he can resume basketball activities. He averaged 9.7 points and 8.8 rebounds last season in 79 games. Okafor is in the final year of his $14.5 million per season deal.

The 2014 first round pick is protected through the No. 12 overall selection.

This move further signifies the Wizards insistence on making the playoffs this season, though it hardly ensures anything beyond this year. The team is unlikely to re-sign Gortat short of an All-Star campaign, and they surrender a high pick in what should be a very deep draft class next year. GM Ernie Grunfeld has made every move this off-season with an eye toward the post-season, and the revenue that is associated with that distinction, even if those moves aren’t necessarily long-term in thinking.

Injury bug plagues Wizards early, Okafor out indefinitely

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced Wednesday that center Emeka Okafor will be out indefinitely after being diagnosed with a herniated C4 cervical disc.

“I have worked hard over the summer and was looking forward to the start of training camp next week, so this is a disappointing and frustrating situation for me,” said Okafor.  “But I have confidence that my teammates and coaches will be able to continue to take steps towards our goal of making the playoffs and that I will be able to do my part to help them once I return.”

After consulting with several specialists and the team doctors, Okafor will begin rehabilitation to reduce the inflammation and correct the injury.  The herniated disc was originally revealed through an MRI after Okafor experienced discomfort in his neck.

“Emeka’s professionalism and dedication to taking care of his body are among the best I have ever seen during my time in this league as a player, coach and executive and I know that he will be diligent in his efforts to return to the court as soon as possible,” said Grunfeld.  “Until then, his absence will create opportunities for other players to step up and provide the rebounding and defense that Emeka normally contributes.”

Okafor averaged 9.7 points and 8.8 rebounds in 79 games for the Wizards last season.  He missed two games due to the flu and the final game of the season with a sprained right ankle. [Read more...]

Washington Wizards Game 70 Wrap: Wall’s 47 points powers shorthanded Wizards past Memphis

With five of the Washington Wizards’ (26-44) sidelined for the start of Monday night’s game, the Memphis Grizzlies (47-23) were all but guaranteed their first road win in four away contests.  But, as has been the case repeatedly this year, when the Wizards are outmatched, hurting or some unfortunate combination of the two, they tend to muster inexplicable strength – and, more often than not, it stems from John Wall. [Read more...]

Washington Wizards Game 54 Wrap: Win over Rockets shows glimpse of future

The Washington Wizards have looked like a different team since John Wall returned and with their second win in two nights over playoff bound Western Conference teams, Saturday night’s saw the Wizards beating the Houston Rockets 105-103, the NBA is getting a glimpse of what may be next year.

Even though Wall’s return has been the focal point for much of the season, Bradley Beal might be the brightest star on the team right now. Saturday night he showed why too with 21 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals. Even though he is just a rookie, Beal is showing a high-rate of improvement this year with his best games coming when Wall gives him the ball.

“I think he is playing big. He’s finding his comfort zone, the way he wants to play,” Wall said of Beal to reporters after the game. “He’s really maturing throughout every game he plays during his rookie season.”
[Read more...]

Washington Wizards Game 53 Postgame Audio: Wittman, Wall, Beal & more

The Washington Wizards survived a late scare but held on to defeat the Denver Nuggets, 119-113, at Verizon Center Friday night. Seven Wizards, led by Bradley Beal and Emeka Okafor with 17 points apiece, hit double digits for the Wizards in what head coach Randy Wittman described as, “really a quality win for us in so many ways.”

“It was good to see us get back to playing our game,” Wittman said. “Everybody contributed. I stick Garrett Temple in there the last minute of the third quarter, and he comes up with three big points—picks up that shot in the corner, gets fouled and knocks down the free throw. Everybody came in and really contributed for us.”

Beal described the feeling of the Wizards as constant underdogs, even at home. “I think sometimes when we play so-called better teams, we feel as though we have something to prove. I think we come out harder, that much harder and just compete.”

For Wittman and Beal’s complete comments, plus those of John Wall, Okafor and A.J. Price, please click the links below.

02-22-13 Randy Wittman Postgame RAW

02-22-13 Bradley Beal Postgame RAW

02-22-13 John Wall Postgame RAW

02-22-13 Emeka Okafor Postgame RAW

02-22-13 AJ Price Postgame RAW

Washington Wizards Game 53 Wrap: Seven Wizards reach double-digit points in 119-113 win over Denver

The Washington Wizards (16-37) unraveled the Denver Nuggets (34-22) 119-113 to tally their second win against a team looking to gain ground in the Western Conference.

For the first time this season, seven Wizards reached double-digit points, including Bradley Beal and Emeka Okafor, who each earned double-doubles and 17 points apiece.

“I think we got back to where we wanted to be before the [All Star] break started,” John Wall said after the game. “I think in Detroit and the game before this – when we played Toronto – we didn’t play like we had before the break started. We didn’t play as a team, we didn’t trust each other. Over the last two days of practice we got back to trusting each other and we came back to playing as a team tonight. Like I said, on any given night, you never know who’s going to be our leading scorer and that’s what’s good about this team.” [Read more...]

Washington Wizards Game Wrap 50: Beal Shows No Sign of Lingering Injury Leading Wizards to Fourth Straight Win

The Washington Wizards certainly are a different team when both John Wall and Bradley Beal are on the court together, as the two teamed up to lead the Wizards to yet another road win, this time over the Milwaukee Bucks 102-90, to improve to 15-35 on the year.

Perhaps the most unlikely story in sports right now, the Washington Wizards, who looked like they could challenge the New Jersey Nets’ record for futility to start a season, have suddenly gone 11-11 since the start of the new year. A big part of the turnaround is the overall health of the team, which is now above average, but also because of the way the supporting cast has surrounded the team’s best players. Early albatrosses like Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza and Kevin Seraphin are now playing key minutes and making big plays throughout the course of the game.  [Read more...]

Washington Wizards Game Wrap 44: Wizards Collapse in Second Quarter, as 76ers Cruise to Win

After winning three of their last four, the Wizards are now mired in another slump, dropping their second in a row to the Philadelphia 76ers 92-84 on Wednesday night.

The night started out strong for the Wizards, taking 28-25 lead into the second quarter. Washington got their scoring from all over with Nene, John Wall, Kevin Seraphin, Jordan Crawford, Tervor Ariza and Emeka Okafor all knocking down shots. It boded well for the team on the evening since it was without their offensive horse Bradley Beal, who sat out with a wrist injury.

It was pretty much all downhill from there for the Wizards after that. [Read more...]

Washington Wizards Game Wrap 43: Isaiah Thomas, Kings prove too much for Washington to handle

Turnovers and defensive blunders cost the Washington Wizards (11-32) big Monday night at the Verizon Center as the Sacramento Kings (17-29) ended the team’s quest for six straight wins at home with a 96-94  loss determined in the game’s final seconds.

Emeka Okafor tallied a season-high 23 points and added 15 rebounds for his tenth double-double, while John Wall, Martell Webster and Kevin Seraphin each posted double-digit points.

But, there was just no slowing Isaiah Thomas – even when it looked like the Wizards had a shot at turning out on top in the final seconds of the game, as they have in recent contests.

The fourth quarter started off as one of the Wizards’ ugliest stretches this season. Nearly eight minutes into the fourth, the Wizards had managed to score just five points – and a handful of their passes for open shots were downright atrocious. Washington’s defense looked sluggish and worse yet, it seemed at times that nearly every player in Wizards uniform who touched the ball turned it over. In fact, the Wizards committed 12 of their 20 turnovers in the second half alone. [Read more...]

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