Opening Statements: Wizards vs Nets, Game 52 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Opening Statements: Wizards vs Nets, Game 52

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Updated: February 7, 2015

Washington Wizards vs Brooklyn Nets

Against the backdrop of a five-game losing streak, a holodeck training exercise that was cute at first but has since suffered from a malfunction and now the phasers are set to kill, what else is there to say? Well, quite a lot. Comcast’s Chris Miller offered up a question on Twitter, providing readers with two potential answers, one of which colors them like raving lunatics and the other making them feel like they definitely know better than everyone else.

It’s a bad, leading question. Losing skids happen in the NBA, to be sure. But they mostly happen to teams that are adjusting to new additions (early-season Cavs), have suffered a serious injury (early season Oklahoma City), or teams that aren’t all that good (the Wizards, now). Atlanta’s biggest losing “skid” of the season is two games. Same for Golden State. Memphis? Two. Portland? Three. Dallas and Toronto? Four. As you get closer to the middle of the pack, the skids that happen, as if a natural byproduct of a team’s unwritten potential, stretch out, lengthen, and declare themselves “happening.” No one hands out the NBA equivalent of “It’s Perfectly Normal” at the beginning of the season to prepare teams for stretches of awful play and results that are antithetical to the team’s stated purpose. A five-game losing streak only happens if the team is in actual trouble.

So, is panic the appropriate response? No, probably not. At least not in the derogatory sense that insiders might ascribe to the apparent lead pendulum of fan opinion. The flaw in setting up two opposing, Manichean camps is that the Wizards aren’t nearly worthy of your panic or your unconditional patience.

Should Randy Wittman be fired tomorrow? Well, he won’t be! A more realistic hope is that Grunfeld or Leonsis changes his job description, and requires the incorporation of better ideas. Or that Washington’s playmakers find better results (driving to the basket, creating 3-point opportunities) within the plays called. After two years of trending more and more towards midrange and away from 3-pointers, though, I’m skeptical of potential renaissance.

Since Andre Miller’s play fell off and subsequently led to Garrett Temple’s insertion as the backup playmaker, the Wizards’ need for a younger, more capable backup point guard has been as evident as their need for another shooter on the wing. Should the Wizards trade Otto Porter to make a run at the title? Well, they won’t! And Ray Allen isn’t going to touch this team with a ten-foot pole after their recent “perfectly normal” losing streak. Having a roster spot open will not cause the procedural generation of a player to fit Washington’s needs, and finding a contributor this late in the season will require maximum effort from Grunfeld. More likely, the Wizards will need two players out of Rasual Butler, Otto Porter, and Martell Webster to become valued contributors. Step one: find minutes for two of those players.

It’s all very “yesterday sucked and tomorrow could be more of the same.” But the beauty of professional sports is that, unless you’re the D.C. football team, tomorrow can also be very different. After the most crushing loss of last season (a season that was, on the whole, a season of hopeswells and heartbreaks), the April loss to the then-Bobcats that looked like it would drop Washington to sixth or seventh in the Eastern Conference with four games remaining on the schedule, the Wizards rattled off four straight wins, the Bobcats and Nets took unexpected losses, and the Wizards found themselves matched up against a team they were born to beat, the Chicago Bulls, in a first round series with Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza peaking. This year’s team is a little older, a little better, a little less volatile, and just as vulnerable. Here’s hoping.

Brooklyn comes to town, then, and some might view them like a goat in the T. Rex pen at Jurassic Park. But for the Wizards, who have looked as bad as the team that stumbled through most of last season before finally turning a corner in the NBA playoffs, there is no easy gore. Joining me today is David Vertsberger (@_Verts) of ESPN Truehoop’s Brooklyn’s Finest. Let’s get it.


Teams: Wizards vs Nets
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Chinatown, Washington, D.C.
Television: CSN
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/WNEW-FM 99.1
Spread: Wizards favored by 6.5 points.


 

#1) The Nets beat the Raptors!

It’s something the Wizards have yet to do this season, and only did once last season (though it took three overtime periods). Having witnessed such an event, please tell the Wizards how to do it in three easy steps.

@_VertsWell, the Wiz don’t have Alan Anderson, who scored 22 points in that win for the Nets. So perhaps trade for him? How about Bradley Beal for Anderson? Wait, sorry, that’s not fair. Let’s throw in a second-rounder with Anderson for Beal. Whadaya say?

#2) When last we spoke, Brook Lopez was on the trade block.

And then he messed around and had several very good games. The Denver Nuggets reportedly offered J.J. Hickson and Javello Magoo for Lopez last week, but the Nets refused the offer. If you were in charge, would you take that deal?

@_VertsThrow in a first-round pick and I’ll take it, but as it is, the Nets aren’t getting much in return for Lopez. Just about any package that includes a high first-rounder and short-term contracts works for me. But then I don’t value Lopez very highly.

#3) A Kevin Garnett buyout isn’t inevitable, maybe, but it’s on the table.

I’d be willing to bet that the veteran-hungry maw of Wizards basketball would creak open if and when that buyout was finalized. What does Garnett still have, and what has he lost? Do the Nets (or Plumlee) benefit from keeping him around, or is it better to let The Big Ticket roam to another box office? Is there any indication that the Nets could trade Garnett, rather than complete a buyout?

@_VertsKevin Garnett is actually still a very useful basketball player, depending on how he’s utilized. Brooklyn starts him at the four, which limits his ability to consistently deliver positive play. But play him off the pine at the center for short spurts and you’ll be impressed. His short mid-range jumper is still reliable, as well as his defense and rebounding. There hasn’t been any news of trading Garnett, but that’s the direction I’d go in. Try and send him off to a contender who could use the depth and get some sort of asset back.

 

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Conor Dirks
Reporter / Writer / Co-Editor at TAI
Conor has been with TAI since 2012, and aids in the seamless editorial process that brings you the kind of high-octane blogging you have come to expect from this rad website. The Wizards have been an assiduous companion throughout his years on the cosmic waiver wire. He lives in D.C. and is day-to-day.