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Brooks: John Wall sets career pace despite knee surgeries holding him back

Brooks: John Wall sets career pace despite knee surgeries holding him back

The streaks are piling up for the Wizards, nine wins in a row at Verizon Center and eight of their wins this season coming back from double-digit deficits. It's not ideal and a lot of the latter has to do with slow starts defensively when opponents score 30 or more points in the first quarter. 

But coach Scott Brooks pointed to one key area for their revival going into Tuesday night's game vs. the Chicago Bulls: John Wall. 

Although most of the country doesn't recognize not only what he's doing from a statistical standpoint, evident by Wall being just seventh among East guards in All-Star voting, but the context in which he's doing it. Wall had surgeries to both knees May 5 after he averaged 19.9 points and 10 rebounds in a 41-41 2015-16 season. Now he's at a career high 23.1 points per game, 10.1 assists (0.1 off a career-high), 4.4 rebounds and a career-high 2.3 steals. He's also shooting 46.6% from the field (also a career-high) and has 22 double-doubles which far outdistances any guard in his conference.

RELATED: Wade may miss matchup vs. Wizards

"I always give a lot of praise to players that put  (themselves) out there when they’re not NBA ready 100 percent. He had the two knee surgeries over the summer. His first practice was October 7th. He was working himself into shape while we were playing games for real. A lot of players don’t do it," Brooks said after Monday's afternoon practice session. "You hear it a lot, 'I’m not coming back until I’m 1,000 percent ready.’ We’re not going to put anybody out there if they’re not physically ready but you still have to get past being game ready, being in shape and playing through the conditioning that you need. He has done that."

Given what has happened with Derrick Rose as of Monday night, Brooks' perspective could be even more appropriate (Note: He was not referring to Rose or any other player other than Wall so the timing here was pure coincidence). Rose, who had a checkered history when with the Chicago Bulls of holding himself out of games after knee surgery, didn't report to Madison Square Garden for a game with the New York Knicks. The reasons remain unclear. If this turns out to be a voluntary decision and that he didn't clear it with the team first, it would be nothing short of stunning.

Rose, too, is among the six East guards ahead of Wall in All-Star voting. Wall had 10 double-doubles in December. That's nine more than Rose has had all season, and Wall was on an early-season minutes restriction and held out from both games of back-to-backs. 

"He hit is stride in early December. Now he lost some weight that he gained when he wasn’t able to do anything and he’s down to his fighting weight and he’s playing well," Brooks said. "He’s moving well. He’s making shots. He’s locking up defensively. When John has good games for us, he’s one of the best defending point guards in the league. It’s a hard position to defend with so many great point guards offensive minded and every team is built on 70 or 80 pick-and-rolls each game."

The Wizards began 2-8. Wall has led them back to 18-18 and they have a chance to be over .500 for the second time this season. It would be the first time they get over that hump since they were 6-5 on Nov. 24, 2015. They had four chances only to fail last season at 14-14, 19-19, 30-30 and 35-35.

MORE NBA: NBA Insiders Notebook: Paul Millsap to Toronto?

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Heat rising, Knicks falling in Kyrie Irving sweepstakes, report says

Heat rising, Knicks falling in Kyrie Irving sweepstakes, report says

Things moved very quickly with Kyrie Irving and his request to be traded by the Cleveland Cavaliers once the news broke over the weekend. Soon after that news was revealed, we learned of the four teams he would prefer to be traded to. ESPN's Chris Haynes had Irving eyeing the Heat, Knicks, Timberwolves and Spurs.

Now almost a week later, one of those teams seems to be rising the list while another seems to be falling. The first report, from ESPN's Pablo Torre, has Irving with increased interest in the Knicks. Irving does happen to be from nearby New Jersey.

[RELATED: Wizards Tipoff podcast - Wall's deal, Cavs crumbling?]

The second report, which comes from Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, has the Heat falling out of the mix. Here is what Jackson wrote:

And while the possibility certainly cannot be ruled out, the Heat does not have considerable optimism about being able to strike a deal, multiple league sources said.

One Eastern Conference official who spoke to the Heat said Miami considers itself something of a long shot.

Regarding the Knicks, it would make sense if there were interest from both sides. New York has Carmelo Anthony, who would be a good fit for the Cavaliers as they chase another championship, while Irving could team up with young star Kristaps Porzingis on the Knicks. Once Porzingis comes into his own, that could be among the best tandems in the NBA.

It also makes perfect sense why the Heat would not be a good fit. The Heat have two very good players in Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside, but would have to likely part with one to bring in Irving. Swap Irving in for Dragic and the Heat probably aren't much better. Maybe they sell some more tickets, but it's not a major upgrade. From the Cavs' perspective, Dragic is better than Derrick Rose, whom Cleveland recently signed, but kind of redundant. Dragic is also six years older than Irving.

If Irving goes to the Knicks, it would make the East more interesting because New York would probably take a big step forward. If he is traded to the Heat for Dragic, it may not mean much for the rest of the conference.

[RELATED: Wall's new contract official: 'It was an easy decision']

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By re-signing with Wizards, Otto Porter remains in his 'hometown'

By re-signing with Wizards, Otto Porter remains in his 'hometown'

Otto Porter still goes back to his true hometown of Sikeston, Mo. each chance he gets, often to refurbish classic cars with his family, but the Wizards forward has lived in Washington, D.C. long enough to consider the nation's capital his home, too. After starring at Georgetown University in northwest Washington from 2011 through 2013, Porter has been a member of the Washington Wizards for the past four seasons, still playing his home games at the same place he did in college, at the Verizon Center.

Porter, 24, seriously considered leaving Washington when they allowed him to become a restricted free agent in early July. He met with the Sacramento Kings and Brooklyn Nets, the latter of which made him a contract offer. But the Wizards ultimately matched their number of $106.5 million and in doing so kept Porter in a place he knows well.

"I’m so excited to be back," Porter said. "This is my hometown. This is where I grew up outside of back in Missouri. This is where I learned everything that I know now."

[RELATED: Wizards Tipoff podcast - Wall's deal, Cavs crumbling?]

Porter sat at the podium of the press conference to announce his new deal last week wearing a grey Glen plaid suit. Next to him was majority owner Ted Leonsis, also a Georgetown alum who has now been watching and rooting for Porter for six years going back to his college days.

Leonsis joked that he knew Porter was special when watching him in "Big East Tournaments and against Syracuse."

But the connection goes deeper than that. Leonsis had and still has a few contacts at the school he can ask about Porter.

"Coach [John] Thompson [III] made a comment when we drafted Otto that was pretty prophetic," Leonsis said. "He said there are some players that are high maintenance, there are some players that are low maintenance and Otto is no maintenance. You need that in a team. You just need to have players that are selfless and they’re not egoless, but they understand their role and that they embrace that. Though the league has changed so dramatically in the few years that I’ve been the majority owner of the team where your skill, talent, three-point shooting and running the floor; it’s almost positionless. All teams need a player like Otto."

[RELATED: Wall's new contract official: 'It was an easy decision']

Leonsis continued to drop an important name in the Georgetown community.

"I’ll tell you another story. I saw [school president] Jack DeGioia last week at an event. He said congratulations and thank you on Otto. I said ‘yeah, I think of it as a alumni that you can cultivate to give back to the school.’ And Jack said Otto’s already been generous with the school. I didn’t know that. Otto has already been supportive. I think that just speaks volumes that he didn’t wait until his max deal to give back to his alma mater, so I was very proud of that."

Porter is originally from Missouri, but clearly his D.C. connections run deep. He has been around long enough to understand the locals' desire for a true winner. No D.C. major sports team (Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, Nationals) has won a title since the Skins won the Super Bowl in 1992. None of them have even made the semifinals of their league since 1998.

"I’m hoping to bring a championship to the city because we need it desperately. I’m very excited," Porter said.

[RELATED: Continuity was key in Wizards' decision to retain Otto Porter]