The latest on Blake Griffin's health, future

The latest on Blake Griffin's health, future

From Comcast SportsNetLOS ANGELES (AP) -- All-Star Blake Griffin said Tuesday his left knee is healed after last month's surgery that forced him to miss the London Olympics, when he worked on his shot and free throws while his U.S. teammates were winning a gold medal.Griffin is doing drills and running this week as he continues rehabbing from the July 16 surgery to repair a medial meniscus tear of his knee that he suffered during practice with the U.S. national team in Las Vegas."I'm doing all my normal movements," he said. "I feel like I'm at 100 percent."The latest knee injury had nothing to do with the stress fracture of his left patella and surgery that forced him to miss the 2009-10 season.It's been a busy summer for Griffin. In addition to being with the national team until his injury and then his surgery, he signed a five-year contract extension in July that could be worth up to 95 million.After he got hurt, Griffin didn't watch any of the team's exhibition games, calling it "a little too fresh and a little too painful."But once the Olympics began, he watched his former U.S. teammates during their run to the gold medal."It was just good to see those guys get what they deserved and see how hard everybody worked from the time we got together to the end," he said.Griffin used his downtime "trying to become a more complete player, working on my shot and working on free throws," he said. "Those are two things that I was able to work on a lot even if it was stationary."The Clippers kept busy this summer, re-signing Chauncey Billups and bringing Lamar Odom back to the franchise in a deal with Dallas. They also landed free agents Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill, Willie Green, Ronny Turiaf and Ryan Hollins."This is a great place to play and guys want to come here," Griffin said. "The fact that we've had guys toward the end of their careers, guys like Grant Hill, that chose to play here, I think that says a lot about our team and the direction we're heading in. It's great to be a part of something that has kind of turned the corner."Last season the Clippers got swept by San Antonio in four games in the second round of the playoffs after having the best regular-season winning percentage in franchise history."We laid the foundation," Griffin said. "This year we want to take a step forward and I think the pieces that we've added, the guys we have returning and the work guys have put in this offseason has been tremendous. We look to take that next step as a franchise."The Clippers' co-tenant at Staples Center pulled off its own big deals, adding Steve Nash from Phoenix and Dwight Howard from Orlando."It's great for LA, it's great for basketball," Griffin said. "It's going to bring a lot of excitement, but they still have to play just like everybody else."Griffin said he spoke on Monday to gold medal-winning teammate Chris Paul, who plans to return to Los Angeles next week to recuperate from the surgery he had last week to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb.Griffin endorsed Gary Sacks, the Clippers' director of player personnel, to replace Neil Olshey as the team's general manager. Olshey left to take on the same role in Portland."If he doesn't get the GM job I'll be shocked and definitely a little disappointed because he deserves it and I think everybody else thinks he deserves it," Griffin said. "I hope that it's going to be him."Griffin interacted with fans during an appearance at a West Los Angeles Subway restaurant, where he assembled a turkey sandwich and helped give away prizes to mark the chain's 47th anniversary.

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Grading the Caps' offseason moves: Caps re-sign Tom Wilson

Grading the Caps' offseason moves: Caps re-sign Tom Wilson

The quest for the Stanley Cup doesn't begin on the ice, but during the offseason as general managers build their teams for the upcoming campaign. The Caps have made a number of moves this summer to try to make their team better and get over the playoff hump.

Let's break down and grade each move the team made this offseason to help figure out whether it was the right move for the team.

Today's move: Re-signing Tom Wilson

Not every offseason move involves bringing in someone new. Tom Wilson may have been a restricted free agent, but the Caps still had to make a choice on whether or not to bring him back. The team decided to walk away from fellow RFA Michael Latta, but offered Wilson a qualifying offer and re-signed him to a two-year deal worth $4 million.


In the end, the move was no surprise.

General manager Brian MacLellan made clear after the season that he wanted Wilson to become a Joel Ward type of player.

“It’s on Tom and on us to turn him into that kind of guy that has a net-front presence, that finds loose pucks, finds rebounds, plays good along the wall," MacLellan said. "I think Tom is our answer to that."

But is there room for Wilson with such a crowded roster? If he develops into the player MacLellan envisions, absolutely. The Caps have a need for players willing to fight for those dirty goals and Wilson's physicality and offensive upside makes him an ideal candidate to do just that.

Grade: A-

To truly evaluate this move, let's try to forget where Wilson was drafted. It's clear he's not going to live up to his first round selection. That, however, does not mean he does not still have value for the Caps. It's time now for that value to come from his offense rather than just from his fists.

The best part of this move is not the price, but the clear, achievable goal the team has set before Wilson.

The Caps need a net-front presence. Wilson needs to find his offensive game. Despite what other general managers may think of him, Wilson can and should be contributing more than just seven goals and 16 assists in a season. Now he has a "prove it" deal and a clear, defined goal of what the Caps want to see him develop into.

When the Caps drafted him, they were hoping for a Milan Lucic type of player. That does not look like it's going to happen, but it would still be foolish to give up on Wilson who is just 22 years old. At this point, it doesn't matter where he was drafted. If he becomes a Joel Ward, there's still value in that.


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What Wizards coach Scott Brooks learned during his year off

What Wizards coach Scott Brooks learned during his year off

Much of the attention focused on how Scott Brooks can help the Washington Wizards naturally centers on his time coaching the Oklahoma City Thunder. Here's something to remember: The Thunder fired Brooks after seven seasons. This reminder isn't a knock on the hire, not at all. It's to consider what a person goes through after such an event, how they process the scenario and what changes if any would they make with another opportunity.

The Wizards gave Brooks another shot at coaching. Soon we'll see how the year or so outside the league changed his approach now that he's back. Actually, we don't have to wait for the start of training camp or the 2016-17 season because Brooks was asked about this during an interview with NBA writer Chris Mannix on the Vertical Podcast.

Brooks' answer was less X's an O's but more black and blue.

I know as I was growing as a coach, I understood that the wear and tear on the bodies were important to manage. When he had such a young, dynamic team. Our practices were so much fun and intense and very competitive, but as I grew as a coach, I understood that we have to be efficient in what we do and figure out what’s really important and cut our practices down. The analytics tell you that.

The thing I didn’t focus on: Minutes per game. I focused on minutes per practice. Because you know, you can play a guy 36 minutes per game, and cut it down a minute, but still practice them for two-and-a-half hours and still have an hour and twenty minute shootaround, that minute is really nothing.

Seeing some of the training camps, I was fortunate Coach Pop [Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich] let me come for three or four days, and I saw how he did it. There was a lot of similarities in practice plans and how we did things, but I really pinpointed his as being really efficient. They weren’t long, they were to the point, they were very competitive, and they moved on quickly."

Other factors contributed to the Wizards missing the playoffs last season, no doubt, but injuries derailed the campaign. Injuries have remained a consistent and unwanted part of Bradley Beal's four-year career. John Wall played through pain most of last season and required knee surgery after the campaign ended. Ex-coach Randy Wittman struggled dealing with any type of minutes restrictions for his players. He often played his main contributors heavy minutes even in games decided well before the final buzzer. Soon after the season ended, the Wizards parted ways with their head trainer. 

Injuries, finding ways to curtail them is a main plot point heading into the upcomng season. That would have been the case regardless of the next head coach especially since Beal just signed a five-year, $133 million extension and Wall, a three-time All-Star remains the straw that stirs the drink. That this topic is top-of-mind for Brooks when it comes to what he learned during his gap year works just fine.

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Finlay: Excited to take over as Redskins Insider

Finlay: Excited to take over as Redskins Insider

It’s an exciting day for me to take over the Redskins beat from Tarik El-Bashir. As a native Washingtonian, it’s not an exaggeration to say I’ve wanted this job since I was a kid. 

In fact, in sixth grade, after months of writing nothing but Darrell Green stories and turning them in for English homework, Miss Girard said I was no longer allowed to write about the Redskins. Who got the last laugh, Miss Girard?

Working with Tarik and Rich Tandler covering the Skins at CSN the last few years helped me learn a lot, as did my earlier work with Mr. Irrelevant, SB Nation DC and the Washingtonian. My approach to the beat will be to cover all the angles relevant for fans, and try to look ahead to what might happen and find stories that fall under the radar. In an era of information overload, readers expect more than just stats and quotes from coverage, and I know I will be able to deliver that experience.

This beat means a lot to me. I’ve watched the Redskins my whole life, I’ve cheered for them for most of it. One of the things I hate to hear is when somebody moves to the D.C. area and says ‘nobody is from here.’ 

I’m from here. My wife is from here. My friends are from here. Go to a Redskins game any Sunday, and thousands and thousands of people will show you, loudly, they are from here too. 

If you can, follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat (jpfinlay3) and Facebook. I think social media is a vital part of covering a team, and I will be very active across all platforms. 

Most of all, I like to have fun. I recognize not everyone gets to watch football for their job, and I want to enjoy all of it. I’m open to talking with readers, even disagreeing here and there, so feel free to reach out. 

And before I forget - thank you. Thanks for reading, for arguing on Twitter, and please keep it coming.