Ranking offseasons in the East: No. 6, Wizards


Ranking offseasons in the East: No. 6, Wizards

So what teams in the Eastern Conference did the most to improve for the 2015-16 season? The availability of cap space and the status of retaining one's own free agents factors into what teams are able to do. The countdown starts with teams that did the least to enhance its roster -- and depending on the team that could be a good thing. 

No. 6, Wizards

Last season's record: 46-36: Finish: 5th in the East. 

Key additions: In the draft, traded up to acquire SF Kelly Oubre (No. 15). Added SFs Jared Dudley and Alan Anderson in free agency, and SG Gary Neal.

The skinny: The loss of Paul Pierce resulted in the Wizards pushing full-steam ahead into filling the gap he left behind by committee. Otto Porter, entering his third season, is projected to be the starter but they also have spot starters behind him and depth. The caveat to all of this is how long it takes Dudley, who had a surgery on his lower back to repair a bulging disk last month, to recover. The best-case scenario is he returns to the court early in November, just as the regular season takes off. Neal gives them an option they haven't had behind Bradley Beal since he came here, which is a deadly backup SG, which could make for a more effective PG Ramon Sessions off the bench. Because of the salary cap and luxury tax, the Wizards were limited in moves they could make in the offseason so they resorted to using their "exceptions" to score two of the free agents and a traded-player exception to get Dudley. Good value with limited cap space and didn't tie up money long-term.

Projected finish: No. 3. Though the narrative will be all about Pierce leaving and how the Wizards are going to miss him, this is a better regular-season team. Pierce, who paced himself with a big left toe and right knee injuries all season, didn't do much to help the bottom line as the Wizards won just two more games with him. This version of the team is deeper and should be better defensively. The absence of Pierce will be more of a factor in the postseason where he hit big shots vs. Toronto and Atlanta that had them on the cusp of the conference finals.

MORE WIZARDS: Wizards rookie Kelly Oubre inks shoe deal

Projected No 1 pick Ben Simmons not on NBA Combine list


Projected No 1 pick Ben Simmons not on NBA Combine list

The NBA clearly doesn't care that the Washington Wizards will most likely* not have any picks in the two-round 2016 Draft. Regardless, the draft will indeed happen as will the NBA Draft Combine.

The Combine will also happen without LSU forward Ben Simmons. Arguably the top prospect in the 2016 class, Simmons was not among the names of 70 or so players invited to next week's pre-draft event in Chicago. It appears the Australian native passed on attending as did Dragan Bender, another projected top pick. Bender is playing overseas for Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Maryland's Melo Trimble, Jake Layman, Robert Carter and Diamond Stone are set to attend along with Virginia's Malcolm Brogdon and Villanova's Josh Hart (Sidwell Friends). Trimble and Hart could choose to return for at least another season on the college level.

[* Washington traded its 2016 first round pick to Phoenix for Markieff Morris. However, the Wizards can retain the pick if the selection becomes one of the top three picks following the draft lottery process.]

Here is the full list of attendees:

Ron Baker (Wichita State)
Wade Baldwin (Vanderbilt)
Cat Barber (North Carolina State)
Malik Beasley (Florida State)
DeAndre Bembry (St. Joseph’s)
Ben Bentil (Providence)
Jaron Blossomgame (Clemson)
Joel Bolomboy (Weber State)
Malcolm Brogdon (Virginia)
Jaylen Brown (California)
Robert Carter (Maryland)
Marquese Chriss (Washington)
Elgin Cook (Oregon)
Isaiah Cousins (Oklahoma)
Deyonta Davis (Michigan State)
Cheick Diallo (Kansas)
Kris Dunn (Providence)
Henry Ellenson (Marquette)
Perry Ellis (Kansas)
A.J. English (Iona)
Kay Felder (Oakland)
Dorian Finney-Smith (Florida)
Michael Gbinije (Syracuse)
Daniel Hamilton (Connecticut)
A.J. Hammond (Purdue)
Josh Hart (Villanova)
Nigel Hayes (Wisconsin)
Buddy Hield (Oklahoma)
Brandon Ingram (Duke)
Demetrius Jackson (Notre Dame)
Justin Jackson (North Carolina)
Brice Johnson (North Carolina)
Damian Jones (Vanderbilt)
Skal Labissiere (Kentucky)
Dedric Lawson (Memphis)
Jake Layman (Maryland)
Marcus Lee (Kentucky)
Caris LeVert (Michigan)
Thon Maker (Orangeville Prep/Athlete Institute)
Patrick McCaw (UNLV)
Isaiah Miles (St. Joseph’s)
Jamal Murray (Kentucky)
Malik Newman (Mississippi State)
Georges Niang (Iowa State)
Chinanu Onuaku (Louisville)
Marcus Paige (North Carolina)
Gary Payton III (Oregon State)
Jakob Poeltl (Utah)
Taurean Prince (Baylor)
Zhou Qi (Xinjiang, China)
Malachi Richardson (Syracuse)
Wayne Selden (Kansas)
Pascal Siakam (New Mexico State)
Diamond Stone (Maryland)
Caleb Swanigan (Purdue)
Melo Trimble (Maryland)
Tyler Ulis (Kentucky)
Jarrod Uthoff (Iowa)
Denzel Valentine (Michigan State)
Isaiah Whitehead (Seton Hall
Troy Williams (Indiana)
Kyle Wiltjer (Gonzaga)
Stephen Zimmerman (UNLV)

Report: Randy Wittman in consideration for Pacers job


Report: Randy Wittman in consideration for Pacers job

When the Washington Wizards fired Randy Wittman, they focused on making Scott Brooks their next head coach.

It didn't take long before they named Brooks their new head coach.

When the Indiana Pacers announced Thursday that head coach Frank Vogel's contract would not be extended, a preliminary list of replacements emerged.

Would Wittman make the cut?

He did.

MORE: Wizards have several key positions to fill

All those names are what you'd expect for a full blown search, especially if the goal is to find someone with previous head coaching experience. Wittman served as a head coach over parts of 10 seasons with Cleveland, Minnesota and Washington, where he took over during the 2011-12 season.

He's also an Indiana native and starred for Bobby Knight at Indiana University including the 1981 NCAA Championship team. 

Does this mean Wittman is the right man for the Pacers? Ultimately that's up to team president Larry Bird, but a Vogel for Wittman swap would get panned by the NBA world.

In farness to Wittman, he helped turned the Wizards franchise around. He was on the sideline for playoff series wins in 2014 (Chicago) and 2015 (Toronto). It's possible they reach the Eastern Conference finals in 2015 if John Wall doesn't suffer a fractured hand. 

Expectations were high entering the 2015-16 season, but Washington missed the playoffs and then moved on from Wittman last month. Blame injuries or the roster compisition if you want, but the team never generated sustainable momentum. How Wittman handled the team, the locker room, the strategy also played a factor.

When he took over as interim head coach during the 2011-12 season, Wittman had the worst winning percentage in NBA history. Over his last three seasons in Washington, the Wizards went 131-115.

If Bird wants a new voice, not sure the 56-year-old Wittman is that guy even if by definition he would be new. Vogel is among the more interesting and adaptable NBA coaches. Those are traits not always associated with Wittman. Vogel took Indiana to consecutive Eastern Conference finals during his run and finished with the most wins in franchise history.

It's frankly odd Bird is making this move.

It would be stunning if he then hired Wittman. Then again, who imagined Wittman lasting as long as he did in Washington?

Positions come open as Wizards shuffle staff


Positions come open as Wizards shuffle staff

The shifting has begun for the Wizards, who have a vacancy with the departure of vice president of scouting Marc Eversley who has moved on the the Philadelphia 76ers for a similar role. 

The Sixers made it official Thursday. Eversley was in charge of organizing workout and pre-draft evaluations.

The Wizards don't have any picks going into the 2016 NBA Draft on June 23 and don't appear likely to trade into it.

There is a long shot that they could end up with a top-three pick in the lottery and then retain that pick rather than it going to the Phoenix Suns at No. 13 via the Markieff Morris trade.

RELATED: With Wall out of the Olympics, managing his minutes is the next step

It's not clear whether the Wizards will promote from within the organization to fill Eversley's role, such as with director of player personnel Frank Ross, or go outside for a candidate. 

Eversley worked for Sixers president Bryan Colangelo — recently hired by the franchise — when both were with the Toronto Raptors. 

The other departure for the Wizards came immediately after the season with Thomas Knox, director of player performance and rehabilitation.

Wizards coach Scott Brooks, who was hired within weeks after the April 13 regular-season finale, still has to put together his staff.