Former Maryland standout Greivis Vasquez will be among nine people honored at the White House on Friday through its "Champions of Change" program, which recognizes"leaders who have exemplified extraordinary successes and efforts toward the development of and diplomacy with their countries or communities of origin."The nine Champions of Change we honor today highlight the power of proximity. These members of the Latin American Diaspora remind us that geography matters, that being a good neighbor is both good manners and a good investment. The Champions that we recognize today have helped their countries and communities of origin, and in doing so have bettered our region as a whole, said Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson. These exceptional individuals, with their work in sports and community development, in education and financial inclusion, inspire others by their example. In a region with such profound human links between our societies, ideas and inspiration spread quickly to the benefit of people all over the Americas and the Caribbean.Vasquez, a native of Caracas, Venezuela andguard forthe New Orleans Hornets devotes "much of his free time over the years to youth sports camps in Venezuela and was invited to partner with the US State Department in their Sports Diplomacy program to help foster improved relations between the two countries."The ceremony will be shown live Friday at 10:30 am ET onwww.whitehouse.govlive.
The calls about Otto Porter came early and often during the trade deadline that passed earlier today, but they went unanswered by Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld. He plans on keeping the soon-to-be restricted free agent now that he has blossomed into an elite shooter who is a perfect fit for one the NBA’s best starting fives.
“We love Otto,” Grunfeld told CSNmidatlantic.com, before the Wizards departed for Fridays' game at the Philadelphia 76ers. “We love the way that he’s developed and how he’s come along. I think Otto fits in very well with what we’re trying to do. I said he’s part of our core and we want to keep him here.”
Porter didn’t enter his fourth NBA season as this hot of a commodity. But in his first season under coach Scott Brooks he has elevated every aspect of his game, averaging career-highs of 14.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, 53.4% overall shooting and an NBA-high 46.5% three-point shooting.
With John Wall and Bradley Beal having All-Star-caliber seasons, and Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat playing their best basketball since coming to D.C., Porter has stepped right in. He’s no longer the shy, shoulder-shrugging Mr. Nice Guy that he was when the Wizards drafted him No. 3 overall in 2013.
Though he’s still a nice guy, he has more edge to his game and certainly a confidence that was absent in most of his first two seasons. Last season, Porter’s first as the starting small forward, he came on strong late after lingering in the low 30s on his shot from three.
Now it’s a well-oiled machine. When defense overcommit to Wall and Beal, Porter makes them pay. As a result of his explosion, so will the Wizards to keep him. Porter's emergence created an unexpected expense.
The move made by the Wizards to trade Andrew Nicholson’s $26 million salary, in addition to sacrificing a lottery-protected first-round pick to the Brooklyn Nets for Bojan Bogdanovic, was to create more cap room. They anticipate needing it to retain Porter, who earns $5.9 million this season.
The Wizards must make him a qualifying offer of 125% of that salary to retain the first right of refusal by making Porter restricted. Not making a qualifying offer would allow him to become unrestricted.
“He and John, Bradley, Keef and Marcin and all the rest of our players complement each other very well,” Grunfeld said. “We hope to have him here for a long time.”
Bojan Bogdanovic couldn't control the joy he felt inside the moment he got word that the Wizards were trying to acquire him in a deal to save him from the nine-win Brooklyn Nets.
"It's a big jump for me. I hope I'm going to adjust well and I'm going to start to play well as soon as possible," said Bogdanovic, a 6-8 forward who is in the final year of his three-year deal and will become a restricted free agent this summer.
"I thought I was going to be traded. When I saw that Washington was interested in me I was cheering over there to be traded here because I know how they play right now. They need someone to score off the bench."
Bogadanovic averaged a career-high 14.2 points and shot 35.7% from three-point range with Brooklyn, starting 54 games. Otto Porter starts at his position in Washington.
"It's not going to be a big adjustment for me because also in Europe I started many times from the bench even when I was one of the best players on the team," Bogdanovich said before coming to the NBA in 2014. "Sometimes I like more to start from the bench so I can be more aggressive."
[RELATED: Why the Wizards traded for Bogdanovic]
The lineups that coach Scott Brooks can roll out now are much more diverse. If he wants to go to a super-small lineup, he can put John Wall, Bradley Beal, Bogdanovic, Porter and Markieff Morris on the floor. Or he can substitute Kelly Oubre in for his defense and not lose much versatility. Or Jason Smith can take Morris' spot.
"What we were looking for is some more scoring, a little pop off the bench, and some more three-point shooting and we wanted to add some versatility," president Ernie Grunfeld told CSNmidatlantic.com after the deadline passed. "With Bojan, we get everything."
Wall liked the move for those reasons.
"It was a cool trade, a good trade," Wall said. "He's not a guy that just needs the ball in hands."
So does Brooks.
"It's a great addition. He's not just a shooter. He can score the ball," Brooks said. "He has great size. He gets to the free-throw line at a decent clip. He makes them."
[RELATED: Wall sees Cousins through emotional trade]