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How Wizards handle next offseason steps will shape course of 2017-18 season

How Wizards handle next offseason steps will shape course of 2017-18 season

Established players such as John Wall, Bradley Beal and Markieff Morris have already been in and out of Verizon Center to work out with Sheldon Mac, Daniel Ochefu and Chris McCullough, all of whom will head up the summer league roster in Las Vegas.

Free agency opens July 1 and while that goes on coach Scott Brooks and his staff will focus on mini-camp to prepare for the summer event.

Except this year instead of holding it at Verizon Center they’ll hold mini-camp at Las Vegas before playing their first game July 8 vs. the Memphis Grizzlies.

President Ernie Grunfeld took the first step to reshaping the roster with acquiring Tim Frazier for the No. 52 pick in last week's draft to address the backup point guard need behind Wall.

Here's what needs to be addressed:

--Qualifying offers. They’ll need to extend them to keep Otto Porter and Bojan Bogdanovic restricted free agents. Grunfeld will qualify both which basically gives the Wizards the first right of refusal in the market. But will he re-sign them immediately to take them off or allow them to bring back an offer sheet that he’ll have 48 hours to match? It’ll likely be the latter because the Wizards can exceed the cap to retain their own players exercising their Bird Rights.

[RELATED: Top 20 players set to be available in 2017 NBA free agency]

--Minicamp. Before summer league begins, there usually are a few players who won't make the final roster. Some are cut for performance, others leave because they're not receiving guaranteed money and found another option and are given release. It'll change a little.

--A shooter. There needs to be a reliable one behind Beal – a much better option than Marcus Thornton a year ago – but this player has to be acquired, it appears, in free agency. The trick is the Wizards don’t have a lot of cap room, especially after it is projected to lower from $102 million to $99 million.

--Contract options. The Wizards have to decide by October if they’ll pick up 2018-19 on McCullough and Kelly Oubre.

--Men in the middle. Marcin Gortat made his feelings known about his role in the offense and pondered out loud if he should/would play elsewhere. Grunfeld made it clear that he expects Gortat to remain. But the Wizards still have to figure out how to have him co-exist with Ian Mahinmi or is it redundancy? Neither is comfortable being out on an island constantly defending stretch bigs on switches.

--The schedule. The league will release it for all 30 teams in the first or second week of August. Training camp begins the following month. The Wizards likely will be in Richmond again on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University.

[RELATED: Wizards Tipoff podcast: NBA Draft breakdown with Kurt Helin]

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Upon further review: Winners, losers, sleepers from 2017 NBA draft

Upon further review: Winners, losers, sleepers from 2017 NBA draft

Now that the dust has settled until free agency opens July 1 in the NBA, let's look back at the draft. It's all educated (and sometimes uneducated) guesswork because if you ask most people at least 25 of the 30 teams had great drafts and made great "value picks," whatever that means.

When the NBA season tips in October, however, a lot of names won't be mentioned again in such a positive light if at all. Projecting isn't an exact science especially when most of the 30 first-rounders weren't even of legal drinking age. 

Biggest winner: The Philadelphia 76ers. They manuevered their way into the No. 1 pick to grab Markelle Fultz. It seems like a no-brainer (it is), but sometime teams outsmart themselves and trade down or take an unnecessary risk when they have the best option in front of them. The Sixers went upward. They parted with assets to jump from third and made an aggressive move in a deal with the Boston Celtics who currently hold a bunch of chips that have yet to produce any value. The Sixers can now put Fultz with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid for a possible Big 3 of their own that should catapult them into the playoff picture. 

Head-scratcher: The Chicago Bulls. They traded an All-NBA and All-Defensive player in Jimmy Butler for a bunch of unknown quantities. It goes against the rule of thumb in a trade. If the Minnesota Timberwolves are going to benefit from Butler, no matter how much Bulls managment were fed up with their star, getting a proven rotation player back should've been a requirement. Instead, they got back only potential in rising second-year player Kris Dunn who had an underwhelming rookie season; Zach LaVine who is a fantastic athlete but coming off major knee surgery; and a No. 7 pick in 7-footer Lauri Markkanen. The big man can turn out to be worthy but these picks aren't sure things. Plus the Bulls swapped the No. 16 pick which was Justin Patton (Creighton) in the deal. Given they gave up by far the best and most accomplished player, that's confusing. If anything, they should've gotten a future pick(s), too.

Overrated: Sacramento Kings. Yes, they draw a good haul but drafting De'Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson, Frank Mason and Harry Giles is just the first step. What about the long game as they're stepping into an organization with a terrible track record. Maybe it's a new day, but the Kings still have to prove they have the infrastructure to develop what they have in this group and the wisdom to be patient if it takes time. All four of these players will not turn out to be solid contributors. That's how the draft is.  Sometimes they'll end up sticking in the NBA but with another team and only Fox seems to be a lock based on talent. If this were the Miami Heat, for instance, it would be more a certainty they'd maximize these rookies. This is the Kings' first big test post-DeMarcus Cousins to change how they're perceived. GM Vlade Divac has been the Phil Jackson of Western Conference until proven otherwise.

[RELATED: Wizards Tipoff podcast, Ep. 18: Wiz make a deal, PBT on the draft]

Underrated: Atlanta Hawks. They've gotten little-to-no props for their selections under first-year GM Travis Schlenk. John Collins (Wake Forest), their first-rounder, is a back-to-the-basket presence they'll need after trading Dwight Howard and eventually losing Paul Millsap. In the post is the strength of Collins' game. Tyler Dorsey (Oregon) is a guard that the Wizards liked but knew he wouldn't be there at No. 52 which is why they traded out for a veteran. Dorsey has to get stronger but appears to be the right fit. He may take a year or two but the Hawks did well. And the last pick of the draft, No. 60, turned into 6-10 Alpha Kaba who played in Serbia. An intriguing prospect that could take the longest to come around but he's an incredible finisher at the rim with NBA athleticism.

Sleeper picks: Sindarius Thornwell (South Carolina) and Monte' Morris (Iowa State). Thornwell was taken at No. 48 by the Milwaukee Bucks and traded to the L.A. Clippers. Who knows how the Clippers will look now with the likely departures of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, but Thornwell is ready to play now. Defensively, his IQ is there which is rare for rookie second-round picks. He has geat instincts and plays off the ball and is exceptionally strong at 6-5. He's also a good rebounder if needed and can post up smaller guards, the type of the player the Clippers have needed in recent years. Morris may have limitations because of his physical skills -- not blazing fast, could have trouble beating his man so he's not an iso player -- but he knows how to run an offense and doesn't get loose with the ball under pressure. Faced as close to an NBA-style defense as there is in college in West Virginia with long, athletic defenders who trapped and pressured him to no end, and Morris only had one turnover. 

Best undrafted talent: P.J. Dozier (South Carolina). At 6-6, he can create havoc at both ends. The biggest knock against him is his inconsistent shot, an area that can easily be improved with hard work. Most of his other assets can't be acquired. He can slash to get to the rim and finish in traffic.

Most surprising pick: Mason (Kansas) at No. 34. It's not that the national player of the year was chosen that was eye-catching. It was how high he went to Sacramento. At 5-11, Mason will have to not just get his shot over much bigger defenders, but if he'll have to succeed in that area if he's to stick in the NBA. Right now, he's strictly an on-ball player who isn't a threat off it and hasn't displayed the vision to create for others. He's draftworthy but it seems it a big high given that a better point guard option in Morris went a whopping 17 picks later. 

[RELATED: Brooks reminisces about Durant, 1st season in D.C.]

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Brooks thinks 'a lot' about what could've been with Durant and 1st playoff run with Wizards

Brooks thinks 'a lot' about what could've been with Durant and 1st playoff run with Wizards

The consolation prize for Scott Brooks after the playoffs was being able to watch Kevin Durant, with his mother in tow, celebrate the NBA Finals MVP and championship trophy a few weeks ago. His Wizards, who fell in seven games of the East semifinals, had long been booted.

All Brooks could do was reminisce about his run with Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka that led the Oklahoma City Thunder to the cusp in 2012 only to end with a five-game loss in the Finals to the Miami Heat. 

"I think about it a lot," Brooks said of his former team, which fired him after they missed the playoffs despite 45 wins in 2015, to CSNmidatlantic.com. "A lot of things happen. Tough trade (Harden to Houston), some bad fortune with injuries (to Durant) but those are all part of the game. ... Kevin and Russell and Harden were able to carry one of the youngest teams in the history of the game to the NBA Finals in 2012. We came up short three games but we got there. When you're there and you're that young you think you're going to go back again. It's human nature. Even as a coach you thought that this team is going to continue to grow. But a lot of strange things happen. A lot of things that you can't control."

Brooks led Washington to 49 wins and a No. 4 seed in the East. They had a legtimate shot to upset the No. 1 seed Boston Celtics but couldn't win a road game in the series. 

[RELATED: Wizards Tipoff podcast, Ep. 18: Wiz make a deal]

If Brooks only could have similar success with John Wall and Bradley Beal in Washington, where the franchise hasn't been to the conference or NBA Finals in four decades, that would make up for what he missed out on with Durant. His Golden State Warriors will be hard to topple but Brooks has four fully guaranteed years left on his deal. He has time to get it right. 

"I spent eight seasons with (Durant) so I had a lot to do with his early development. I'm happy for him. I'm happy for his family. A good family. A great kid," Brooks said. "The thing I love about K.D. is he's the most humble superstar I've ever been around as a former player, as a coach I've never been around a guy so good that he really doesn't feel like he's one of the best players. He almost thinks of himself as a guy that's just trying to make the team. ... I would've loved to had the chance to coach him here but I'm happy for him to get the championship and to see his family happy. It was a good moment for all of us."

As a free agent a year ago, Durant didn't give his hometown Wizards a meeting before quickly deciding to sign with Golden State which has now won two of the last three NBA Finals.

It was a pipe dream for the Wizards to land him anyway, but what they could control is what happened in Game 2 vs. the Celtics. They hadn't won at TD Garden in three years and had Boston on the ropes. The score was 110-104 as Marcin Gortat missed the second of two free throws and then Isaiah Thomas came alive to bury Washington with big shots down the stretch to force overtime and end with 53 points.

"All I do is shake my head because all I think is we're up six, we miss a free throw so we could've been up seven with (2:43 left) and then we gave up two critical threes," Brooks said. "Both (defensive) mistakes. .. A couple breaks here and there we could've went to the (conference) finals."

The Wizards aren't at the level of his best Thunder teams, but at least they're heading in the right direction. This offseason will be crucial in whether or not they can keep building on it. 

[RELATED: Wizards like Tim Frazier's ability to contribute right away]