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Morning tip: Sheldon McClellan earns trust of Wizards' coaching staff

Morning tip: Sheldon McClellan earns trust of Wizards' coaching staff

The first time vs. the Chicago Bulls, Sheldon McClellan started out of necessity because the Wizards were without John Wall and Bradley Beal. It was far quicker than coach Scott Brooks anticipated, or even wanted, to play the rookie but now that he's earning rotation minutes the message has gotten through. 

McClellan has had a small but significant impact on the Wizards' last two wins. He's gotten the call off the bench instead of veteran Marcus Thornton and there doesn't appear to be a reason to go back. 

“I like what Sheldon has been able to do. He plays hard," Brooks said. "When you play hard it gives you a chance to stay on the court and make good things happen for your team. I think he does that. He has that play-hard gene that I like. It helps him. Last game I thought he had some big moments. He hit a couple big shots. He just didn’t rely on the jump shot. He went to the basket. He’s a talented player. I think he’s getting better as the season goes on.”

It was in a Nov. 16 loss at the Philadelphia 76ers when McClellan quickly slipped into Brooks' doghouse. The Wizards fell 109-102 and McClellan started with Beal out with a hamstring strain and Wall on a minutes restriction. He missed two open three-point shots badly and picked up a charging foul with the Wizards in striking distance. But that's not why McClellan didn't make an apperance in 16 of the next 17 games. In the one game he did play, it was one minute of mop-up duty. 

The Wizards were 2-8 after that loss to the Sixers, but McClellan learned his lesson from the "players' coach" in Brooks, who is far more stern than some recognize. He showed McClellan what he did wrong.

“It’s film and seeing how hard I play and how hard I run to my spots. Just the little things that help me stay on the court," McClellan said. "I remember one game in Philly coach told me I was playing so cool and I got backdoored. I didn’t play for like 10 games. Ever since then, now when I get on the court, I think about that game and I just try to compete as hard as I can to earn myself a couple more games.

“It was just my body language. The way I look sometimes. It’s something I’m still working on. I just want to look engaged at all times."

McClellan averaged 16.3 points per game as a senior at Miami. He got up his share of shots and never averaged more than 1.9 assists in college, including his first two seasons with Texas. 

"You go from college where you can make a lot of mistakes and still stay in a game, you know you’re not coming out," McClellan said. "I don’t have to hunt for shots anymore. They come. They don’t? You just make the right read."

The Wizards entered the fourth quarter vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves last week down 85-80. A 9-0 run helped them regain the lead as McClellan passed up shots to get Kelly Oubre a three-pointer and Jason Smith a mid-range jumper. In Sunday's win at the Milwaukee Bucks, it was a stepback jumper, a steal and a three-point play conversion to push the lead to 89-83 in the fourth. McClellan then took a charge from Jabari Parker that gave the Wizards an extra possession that led to Markieff Morris' jumper for an eight-point lead. 

As long as he keeps this up, Thornton, who hasn't played in either of the last two games, will find it tough getting back on the court. Thornton takes too many risks on defense and gets caught out of position on screen-action. He also requires taking shots to be effective, and that sometimes will mean less for Oubre and Smith.

McClellan's recent play can help bridge that gap to fortify an inconsistent second unit.  

"I love passing the ball. Just come down and making the right basketball play, making that extra pass from a good shot to a great shot. That’s what I’m doing," McClellan said. "Do the small things to stay on the court."

[RELATED: State of the Wizards: Aiming for a winning record]

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Kevin Durant says he won't visit the White House with NBA-champion Warriors because of Donald Trump

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USA Today Sports

Kevin Durant says he won't visit the White House with NBA-champion Warriors because of Donald Trump

The Golden State Warriors have still yet to receive a formal invite from President Donald Trump to visit the White House as 2017 NBA champions, but if they do make the trip, D.C.'s own Kevin Durant will not be with them.

The Warriors All-Star told ESPN on Thursday he will not accept an invitation from Trump due to his policies and reaction to the recent events in Charlottesville.

"Nah, I won't do that," Durant told ESPN. "I don't respect who's in office right now."

"I don't agree with what he agrees with, so my voice is going to be heard by not doing that... And what's going on in Charlottesville, that was unfathomable."

Durant and the Warriors travel to Washington to play the Wizards on Feb. 28 at Capital One Arena. That could be the time they choose to visit the White House. It will be interesting to see which of his teammates show up.

[RELATED: LeBron reacts to election, not sure if he'll visit White House to see Trump]

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Wizards' Markieff Morris to be a father soon with training camp right around the corner

Wizards' Markieff Morris to be a father soon with training camp right around the corner

Wizards forward Markieff Morris has a lot to look forward to next month besides the start of 2017-18 training camp in Richmond. Morris and his girlfriend are expecting a baby daughter, their first child, with a due date of Sept. 6. Morris has some time, but it will certainly require an adjustment.

Morris feels ready for the challenge.

"It’s just real chill right now. I try to keep her off her feet as much as possible and try to stay by her side," he said. "I'm getting ready for the kid and staying up all night... I'm a laid back-type of guy. I know she’s going to be chill and laid back like me. It can’t be too much."

Morris has been spending much of his offseason back home in Philadelphia along with his twin brother Marcus. They have been training for the new season, a regiment that has included boxing at a local gym. In Philly he recently held his second annual basketball camp and sixth annual backback giveaway.

[RELATED: PODCAST - Morris on Celtics rivalry, NBA video games preview]

Morris was in D.C. over the weekend for another backpack drive, his second annual giveaway in Southeast Washington. Morris arrived at the Ridge Road Community Center and exited a black Range Rover with fellow NBA player Thomas Robinson to a long line of kids and their parents. Inside were tables and tables of backpacks for all ages and both boys and girls. Morris, Robinson and Morris' family members each wore shirts and hats that read F.O.E. (Family Over Everything).

That's a fitting motto for what Morris was trying to accomplish with his charity venture.

"This is like a home to me. My mom is from here. My entire family is from the D.C. area. So, once I got here I knew right away that I had to get in the community," he said. "I just want to give back to the kids. They’re the future. I’m making sure they know that anything is possible. The city needs stuff like this, guys giving back and coming to the city.

"What we try to do is to try to do everything from the inside. We don’t look for sponsors, we aren’t looking for people to broadcast it. We do it on our own. My mom and my uncle actually run the whole thing. Everyone here running the camp is from the community here at the rec center or my family. We just try to keep it that way. We really don’t even want cameras here. We just do it for the kids and the community."

[RELATED: Morris sees Irving's situation with Cavs as 'unfortunate']

Morris, 27, recalls going to Rasheed Wallace's basketball camp when he was a kid. He knows firsthand how meeting an NBA player can inspire a child with basketball dreams.

"I always remember it. I was at Rasheed Wallace’s camp. I think I was about 10 or 11 and I got to interact with him. That’s something that will stick with kids forever. They will never forget that when they get older," he said.

Morris has a lot on his mind these days, but he is heavily focused on getting back to work with the Wizards. He said their Game 7 loss to the Celtics still bothers him and that "I still feel like we're the better team." He thinks "every game is going to be like Game 7" against the Celtics, who now have his brother Marcus on their roster, this upcoming season.

As for what Morris hopes to improve on himself, he's got a few areas in mind.

"Just keep improving on the 3-point shot, scoring more and staying more consistent. I was a little up-and-down this year, but it’s a long season. You have to forget about the 20 games before and just be more consistent. Rebound the ball more and get a little bit more edge on my bones and muscles. I’m a pretty stiff-type guy, so I’ve gotta figure out how to get loose," he said.

[RELATED: Keef and Dolph: an odd couple friendship within the Wizards' organization]

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