With Howard gone, sigh of relief for Wiz

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With Howard gone, sigh of relief for Wiz

All of a sudden the middle has opened up for the Wizards in the Southeast Division as Orlando shipped out all-star center Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers as part of a four-team trade. This is great news for the Wizards who always struggled defending the 7-foot Howard. Instead of facing Howard and Orlando four times a season, they only have to face him twice now that he's with a western conference team.

Howard has owned the Wizards. Last season, he went for 28 points and 20 rebounds in a Magic win over D.C. in January. Howard followed that up in February with 23 points and 18 rebounds in yet another win against the Wizards. In the 2010-11 season, Orlando never lost to Washington, with Howard leading the way averaging 27 points and 11 rebounds a game. In fact, the last time Orlando with Howard playing lost to the Wizards was in February of 2010 when Brendan Haywood started at center for Washington.

With Howard out of the picture the Magic have to figure out who is going to be the new man in the middle because right now they don't have a true center on the roster, only several power forwards like Justin Harper and Gustavo Ayon. Those are names that don't strike fear into anyone and the Wizards are just fine with that, as centers Nene and power forward Emeka Okafor should have their way with the Magic down in the interior.

The Lakers are once again an NBA title contender but at least the Wizards don't have to see Howard as much as they used to. Things are looking up in D.C.

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Report: Wizards interested in T'Wolves' former 1st round pick

Report: Wizards interested in T'Wolves' former 1st round pick

Now that Lou Williams has been dealt from the Lakers to the Rockets, the Wizards and other teams have to look elsewhere for bench options with Thursday's trade deadline looming. According to a new report from ESPN, Washington could turn to Timberwolves guard/forward Shabazz Muhammad.

The connection was first drawn by Marc Stein, who tweeted this on Tuesday:

Muhammad, 24, is an interesting option as a former 14th overall pick who has performed well this season off Minnesota's bench. He's averaging a modest 9.4 points in 19.6 minutes per game, but shoots 47.1 percent from the field and 41.4 percent from three.

Muhammad doesn't rebound or play much defense at all, but he has turned into a fairly lethal shooter, which could come in handy as the Wizards seek a scoring punch for their bench, particularly at the shooting guard position. Even after going 0-for-8 from three in his last four games, Muhammad holds a 48.6 three-point percentage going back to Dec. 21.

It's hard to tell what it would take for the Wizards to get Muhammad, who is set to hit free agency this summer. The Timberwolves have reason to part with him, given they are 13th in the Western Conference and unlikely to make the playoffs. They might as well get something for him while they can, if they don't plan on re-signing him. But if Muhammad becomes attainable for other teams, he could generate considerable interest as a three-point threat.

[RELATED: Lou Williams no longer a trade option for Wizards]

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Lou Williams traded to Rockets, taking away option for Wizards

Lou Williams traded to Rockets, taking away option for Wizards

If the Wizards are to find a backup guard to help their bench, it won't come in the form of Lou Williams. The Los Angeles Lakers have agreed to trade the veteran guard to the Houston Rockets.

That's according to Adrian Wojnarowski, who has the Rockets giving up a first round pick, which the Lakers were reportedly seeking in talks for Williams:

Many teams were reluctant to part with a first round pick, especially one in the unusually deep upcoming draft. The Lakers ended up getting one, though the Rockets' pick will likely end up in the high-20s.

Williams, 30, is the type of player who could help any team in the NBA. He scores 18.6 points in just 24.2 minutes per game off the bench. The Wizards, like a lot of teams, were interested.

Now Williams will join a Rockets team that is already excellent at scoring. With James Harden leading the way, they are second in points per game (114.4). Add Williams to the mix and they are even more dangerous. Whether that puts them over the top in a crowded Western Conference, however, is the question.

[RELATED: Report: Celtics could prefer Paul George over Butler in trade]