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Best unrestricted free-agent point guards to help Wizards back up John Wall

Best unrestricted free-agent point guards to help Wizards back up John Wall

John Wall and Bradley Beal were uniform in their message about where the Wizards were lacking in 2016-17, and it was the backups in a 49-win season. 

In a Game 7 loss to the Boston Celtics, the Wizards relied on Beal for 45 minutes and Wall, who shot 0-for-11 in tthe second half, for 44. 

Specifically, let's focus on point guards. Trey Burke couldn't do the the job early in the season and coach Scott Brooks had to find ways to take the ball out of his hands to keep him on the floor. Then the Wizards signed Brandon Jennings as a free agent, who had better moments but remained a low-efficiency shooter and defensive liability. 

They represented a major step down from Ramon Sessions, who spent the previous two seasons behind Wall. Sessions, however, was a shoot-first point guard who lacked three-point range and wasn't strong on pick-and-roll coverages.

The Wizards don't have a lot of cap room so whoever they bring in has to be relatively affordable and willing to accept a backup role. If they require starters' minutes or money, they're not an option with Wall and Beal firmly in place.

5. Ty Lawson (Kings): The 5-11 point guard had a bit of a bounce back season. He averaged 9.9 points and 4.9 assists. Lawson doesn't stretch the floor as well as others on this list, shooting a career-low 28.8% from three-point range in 69 appearances. His issues with alcohol has made him a risky proposition for most teams but he was formerly a quality starter who probably can be had for a reasonable price. He earned the vet minimum $1.3 million.

[RELATED: NBA Draft: Targets for Wizards In Round Two]

4. Deron Williams (Mavs/Cavs): A 6-3 point guard, he accepted a reduced role to compete for a championship with 11.0 points, 5.6 assists and 36.3% three-point shooting. His final year of his deal netted him $14.8 million but that'll plummet signficantly if he hopes to continue playing for contenders. On the downside, he'll be 33 and can be injury-prone.

3. Darren Collison (Kings): Also a 6-foot point guard, Collison averaged 13.2 points, 4.6 assists and a career-high 41.7% from three-point range. He also started 64 games in earning $5.2 million. He has been a backup most of his career. 

2. Shaun Livingston (Warriors): The biggest point guard on this list, the Wizard had the 6-7 Livingston as he tried to rebuild his career after a catastrophic knee injury but he was cut by Randy Wittnan during the 2012-13 season. He's averaging just 5.1 points off the bench for Golden State and isn't a three-point shooter but he can get his own shot. He shot 54.7% from the field overall in earning $5.7 million. 

1. Patty Mills (Spurs): A 6-foot point guard, he averaged 9.5 points, 3.5 assists and shot 41.3% from three-point range in his sixth season in San Antonio. Mills earned $3.2 million in 22 minutes per game off the bench. He can handle the ball, run the offense, stretch the floor and has developed into a good perimeter defender. Mills has never started more than eight games in his eight-year career.

(Langston Galloway might've made this list but he has a player option with the Kings. He could hit the unrestricted free agent market, too.)

[RELATED: Wizards Tipoff podcast - Breaking down a possible Wall extension]

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Kevin Durant's legacy won't be secured with just one NBA title with Golden State Warriors

Kevin Durant's legacy won't be secured with just one NBA title with Golden State Warriors

For the second time, Kevin Durant is in the NBA Finals. He’ll be with another team, the Golden State Warriors, that’ll be favored to win for the second time in three years.

Even in victory – and Durant will claim he doesn’t care what everyone says about how he got there – questions will remain for one of the league’s most prolific scorers.

Like LeBron James when he eloped to the Miami Heat to get his first two championship rings, credit won’t automatically come with it.

It took James returning to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers to begin turn the page on “The Decision” in 2010 when he joined Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in South Beach.

James led them back from a 3-1 deficit to upset Golden State to win last year’s Finals.

That was without Durant, who has led a team that has yet to lose game in these playoffs with four-game sweeps of the Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs.

“They’re in a groove,” Spurs big man Pau Gasol told Bay Area News Group after they lost 129-115 on Monday night. “They know what it takes to win and obviously they’ve been champions, they’ve established records that have never been set before and they’re on a path to get another championship.

"In all my years in the league, they’re playing at the highest level right now.”

[RELATED: Smacking some sense into the Jordan-LeBron and MVP debates]

With Durant, they should be that good. There's no extra credit for that. They have the league's most lethal shooter in Steph Curry, a two-way elite shooter in Klay Thompson and weapons galore. Durant had double-doubles in two of the wins vs. San Antonio, including 29 points and 12 rebounds on the closeout game.

He likely will make up for the 2012 disappointment with the Oklahoma City Thunder when they succumbed in five games to James and the Heat.

They appeared to be on the right track after winning Game 1 over Miami by 11 points only to lose the next four.  Durant could never get back to the Finals, with his next biggest failure professionally coming a year ago.

The Thunder were on the verge of upsetting the defending champion Warriors only to blow a 3-1 series lead in the conference finals. And he responded by joining them.

At least when James bolted Cleveland to join Miami, he didn’t run to a team that had kept him from a championship. The Boston Celtics had eliminated him six games of the conference semifinals despite his triple-double.

Durant one-upped James with his surprising move in free agency, bypassing his hometown Wizards by not even granting them a meeting. Yes, he’s a one-time MVP of the NBA who is now the best player on Golden State that already has a two-time MVP with Curry.

There are a lot of reasons to want to play in the Bay Area. The location alone is enough. But co-owner Joe Lacob has created a fantastic environment with the front office led by Bob Myers and an elite coaching staff. 

Durant's work won't be done by raising one Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy next month. They've done that in Golden State without him.

To the contrary, it'll be just beginning. He'll be judged by how much higher he can take them and in the end even that might not be enough.

[RELATED: Wizards hope to sign Wall to contract extension]

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Wizards value strong connection with Otto Porter as he enters restricted free agency

Wizards value strong connection with Otto Porter as he enters restricted free agency

During the All-Star break, when Otto Porter should've been in New Orleans launching red, white and blue moneyballs in the three-point contest, he was buried under a hood of a car in Morley, Mo.

The 6-8 forward for the Wizards, who'll be extended a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent this summer, wouldn't have it any other way.

He ignored the clamoring for the NBA to put one of the league's top long-ball shooters in 2016-17 in the contest.

He'd rather bond with his father and listen to his family's vintage Plymouth Road Runner hum. 

RELATED: Wizards hope to sign Wall to contract extension

What can I say.. it's in my DNA!!😱😱 #moparperformance #roadrunner #69 #hoosier

A post shared by Otto Porter Jr. (@ottodayporter22) on

"Home is where the heart is. Why would you change that?" said Porter, who spent All-Star week in his hometown at his parents' house which is the same place he grew up. "Population of 700. Probably 699 now that I left."

That's Porter. He cooled after a blistering start to his fourth season, second as a starter, to average 13.4 points, 51.6% overall shooting and 43.4% from thee-point range. All were career-highs as were his 6.4 rebounds.

The Wizards aren't in the same position as they were last summer with Bradley Beal, who was a restricted free agent. They moved quickly to re-sign him to $128 million. They'll have less room under the cap this time coupled with Porter being a completely different player.Wall and Beal are the two best players who are at their best with the ball because they create for others, too. Porter is best off the ball, as he relies on movement, angles and spotting up to get his shots.

Every good team needs someone like Porter, who won't pout if he doesn't get 15 shots each night and will sacrifice for the greater good. He's ego-less. But does that mean the Wizards won't dig deep to pay $100 million-plus to retain his services? They could qualify him at 125% of this season's $5.9 million salary which would officially make him restricted, allow him to test the market and bring back an offer sheet and if he does they'll have 72 hours to match it. If the offer sheet is low, that works in the Wizards' favor. If it's at the higher end and they don't match it, Porter walks and nothing is gained in return.

Free agency is a supply-and-demand market like any other industry. If there's a dearth of talent available and a lot of teams are in need of that product -- see Beal last summer with the next best shooting guard Dwyane Wade -- the pricetag skyrockets. After Kevin Durant and Gordon Hayward, neither of whom are in the Wizards' wheelhouse, there's Danilo Gallinari (five years older, injury prone), Rudy Gay (seven years older, coming off Achilles tear), Andre Igoudala (nine years older) and the like.

Porter, however, has another thing going for him. He's theirs. The Wizards developed him after a hip injury slowed him as a rookie and he spent his sophomore season as an apprentice under Paul Pierce. The Wizards moved up in the 2013 lottery from eighth to No. 3 which put them in position to draft what they considered to be the safest bet. While the Cleveland Cavaliers bombed with Anthony Bennett at No. 1 and the Orlando Magic gambled on Victor Oladipo at No. 2 only to trade him last season, the Wizards' selection never was in doubt. 

If the Wizards were to come to terms with Wall on a veteran extension that could approach $170 million, that likely would limit what they could offer Porter. But there are a lot of moving pieces to the puzzle before figuring out a number that would work for both sides.

Porter spent two years at Georgetown. His agent, David Falk, is here, too. There's no drama with Porter, who avoided the AAU circuit as an elite high school player. He prefers to keep it simple which is in perfect line with how he was raised.

"That's just how I grew up playing basketball, with my father and my family. We didn't need AAU, really," he said. "We had so much family that was my AAU."

RELATED: Smacking some sense into the Jordan-LeBron and MVP debates

When he goes back to Morley, he stays with his parents. He gets the house all to himself when his brother is at college. He'd much rather talk about cars than the business of the NBA and contracts.

"That's my second love. Not a question. That's just something I enjoy off the court," Porter said of being a mechanic. "Majority of the day. Everyday, really.

"My father, his brothers always worked on cars. I was always around when they were fixing cars up. I took a big interest in cars when I was young. It's relaxing to my mind, body and my soul."

He'll be 24 next month. Porter exploded for a career-high 34 points and 14 rebounds in a Nov. 9 win the Boston Celtics,  He had 32 and 14 in a win against the Milwaukee Bucks the following month.

Before the calendar year ended, he had five double-doubles which was equal to his output in his first three NBA seasons. Under first-year coach Scott Brooks, he had more freedom and opportunities to score.

The attention to Wall and Beal often left Porter as the forgotten man spotting up on the weakside, awaiting ball reversals or skip passes for wide-open looks. He can still have trouble with physical players at small forward but he flourishes when moved over to the stretch four spot in small lineups. What happens with restricted free agent Bojan Bogdanovic and rising third-year forward Kelly Oubre, who has a fourth-year option coming in October, will factor in as well

While it may sound cliche when other players say things like this about their contract status, every bit of Porter's words are genuine.

"It is what it is," he said. "I'm going to continue what I've been doing. Continue to work. If everything works itself out, it will. ... A lot of people are surprised but with me, it's like, 'I saw this coming a long time ago.'"

Porter played a career-high 80 games, five more than he did in 2015-16, which is surprising when considering how his right hip flared up on him several times. He often rode an exercise bike to stay loose on game nights.

To get past the second round of the playoffs, where the Wizards' season has ended in three of the last four years, the roster will need a tune up. In a perfect world, Porter would remain one of their spark plugs.

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