Technically. I've known a secret the past few days regarding former Georgetown forward Hollis Thompson. Sort of, ish.More like I knew hisagent, Seth Cohen, had something brewing regarding Thompson's future NBA employment. There was a deal in place with a team, almost assuredly an NBA version. Specifics were vague and mum the word. Well, now we know:Thompson went from going undrafted to signing a three-year deal with the Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder.The 6-foot-8, 206-pound forward entered the draft after averaging 12.8 points and 5.5 rebounds during his junior year at Georgetown. The programs career 3-point shooting percentage leader, Thompson knocked down 44 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc during his career and shot at least 43 percent during each of his three seasons.Despite his outside range, second-round projection, being one of 60 players to the pre-draft NBA Combine and a certain writer advocating for his selection,Thompsons name went uncalled on June 28.Turns out draft night disappointment didn't last long; Cohen worked out a deal with the Thunder a scant few days after the draft. Pen could not beput to paper until the league reopened for official business until July 11. Today Cohen and I spoke, but each brief conversation essentially began and ended with a "not yet" from the agent. Before the back and forth concluded with me hearing the details first hand, he shared them with the Twitterverse.Thompson will miss the summer league season and will be sidelined for three to four weeks after having minor surgery on his left groin this week, the Associated Press reported. Terms of the contract have not been disclosed, though Cohen announced the length of the deal as three years.Even if he receives the rookie minimum, Thompson would cash checks for around 500,000 per season.The Southern California native emerged as an offensive leader and late game hero for the Hoyas during his third campaign on the Hilltop. Thompson knocked down game-winning 3-pointers against Marquette and at Alabama. He scored 20 second-half points in a victory over St, Johns and a season-high 23 against NC State in the NCAA Tournament.
The Wizards had a special guest sitting courtside for Game 5 of their first round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks, as former Vice President Joe Biden showed up to root on the home team.
Biden was shown on the big screen during a timeout in the second quarter and the crowd treated him to a standing ovation. They played Bruce Springsteen's 'Born in the USA' on the loudspeakers and Biden stood up to acknowledge the crowd.
Here are some pictures:
JOE BIDEN IS HERE. pic.twitter.com/Z5JDWaYBB0— Chase Hughes (@chasehughesCSN) April 26, 2017
Joe Biden in the house, in full meme mode on the Wizards jumbotron pic.twitter.com/BTAMdkc2bU— Brody Logan (@BrodyLogan) April 26, 2017
guys. joe biden is at the wizards game. pic.twitter.com/Kfgs4qMlc0— kelly cohen (@politiCOHEN_) April 26, 2017
And here is a video of the ovation:
Former Vice President Joe Biden receives a HUGE ovation at the Wizards game. pic.twitter.com/2bU3OmftmG— Scott Abraham (@ScottABC7) April 26, 2017
We'll go ahead and guess Joe took the Amtrak to get there.
When the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins met in the second round of the playoffs last year, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were held to only four combined points. That should be good enough to win, and yet it wasn’t for the Caps who had no answer for Pittsburgh’s scoring depth.
This year, Washington expects things to be different. Why? Because of Lars Eller.
The Caps will feature other new faces as well including Brett Connolly and Kevin Shattenkirk, but Connolly was a low-risk, high reward gamble and Shattenkirk was a deadline acquisition. Really the only move the Caps made to bolster their depth in direct response to last year's series loss was Eller.
Washington traded two second-round draft picks to Montreal for the Danish center in the offseason. With a career-high of 30 points, clearly the Caps were looking for versatility more so than strictly offensive production.
“He's a skilled player, but he can do the harder work, too,” Nicklas Backstrom said. “He plays PK, he plays important situations so, he's a great guy to have on the team.”
Eller was brought to Washington with one clear role: Center the third line.
Consistency was not something Eller was able to enjoy in Montreal as head coach Michel Therrien constantly shuffled lines even electing to use Eller as a winger at times. In a stacked Washington lineup, however, it was clear just where Eller fit in. Even when Barry Trotz shuffled lines at points over the course of the season, Eller remained the constant on the third line.
“Probably the first time in my career I had that kind of stability,” Eller said. “I think it took us a good while to find the lines and get the right mix for every line. That took some time, but once we got that around late December, beginning of January, I think the whole team got on a roll and my line really got on a roll as well and a lot of pieces just kind of came together. It's been trending up in the right direction all year and now we're here.”
Eller scored 12 goals and 13 assists in 81 games with the Caps this season, helping lead Washington to the Presidents’ Trophy, but that was not why he was brought in. He was brought to this team to give the Caps the depth they learned they needed to make a deep layoff run.
“That's what we tried to address with getting Lars in that role,” Trotz said. “We'll find out. I think we addressed it, it's up to the player.”
Is it an overstatement to call Eller the key to the series? Perhaps, but then again, perhaps not. The key line for Pittsburgh in last season’s series was the “HBK” line of Patric Hornqvist, Nic Bonino and Phil Kessel. They were the Penguins’ third line.
Now the Caps are hoping they have found their own key third line of Andre Burakovsky, Eller and Tom Wilson.
“I can't wait for that challenge,” Eller said. “I think a lot of guys in here have pictured that this is a spot we could end up being in, facing this team sometime in the playoffs. Now is that time. We're just thrilled to have that opportunity.”
MORE CAPITALS: Key matchup: Penguins' power play vs. Caps' penalty kill