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Wizards like to have enforcer Markieff Morris on their side: 'He's not scared of anybody'

Wizards like to have enforcer Markieff Morris on their side: 'He's not scared of anybody'

In the NHL it is common to have an enforcer, someone who can set the tone with physical play or intervene when things go down between players on opposing teams. In the NBA it's less common, but the Wizards have a pretty good one in power forward Markieff Morris.

Morris was the tone-setter in the Wizards' Game 1 win over the Hawks on Sunday and has been the talk of both teams ever since. Hawks forward Paul Millsap said after Game 1 that the Wizards "were playing MMA" and that was a reference to Morris, who guarded him for much of the game.

Morris embraces that role.

"I've always been an enforcer, my whole life. My brother has been the talker and I was his backbone. I'm a guy who leads by example and not by vocal. That's what I do," he said.

[RELATED : Morris heard Millsap's comments, is prepared for 'double MMA']

Morris, put simply, is a guy you would probably hate to play against but love to have on your side. John Wall and Bradley Beal love having him as their teammate.

"He's not scared of anybody and that's a big help for our team," Wall said. "It's great. He brings other things to the game, offensively and defensively. Just with his physicality and playing defense."

"You always want to go to battle with a guy like that, somebody that you know will always have your back no matter what," Beal said. "It's great. People kind of underestimate his abilities. They underestimate his impact on the game. For us, we feed off his energy and his mindset each and every night. He's confident. He's all about us. He's all about winning. He's a great player who is unselfish. He sacrifices and he does whatever it takes to win."

If Game 1 was any indication, this is going to be a physical series and that is right within Morris' wheelhouse.

[RELATED: Millsap sees Morris, Wizards' trash talking as a trap]

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Timeline to create Wizards' G-League team and practice facility becoming more clear

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USA Today Sports Images

Timeline to create Wizards' G-League team and practice facility becoming more clear

The Wizards' G-League team will not play it's first game until the fall of 2018, but its creation process is well underway and later this year should be kicked into another gear.

For now, it's all about constructing the team's arena in Ward 8 of Southeast Washington. The G-League team will ultimately practice and play their games there and so will the WNBA's Mystics. The Wizards will use it as their practice facility.

It's a multipurpose project and, as majority owner Ted Leonsis explained, they have broken ground but have lots of work to do.

"The big issue is will the building be ready. We stood up Kettler [Capitals Iceplex], we did our deal in Hershey, we built the team all during the lockout. That really worked. The goal was to get the Wizards practice facility and arena built in Ward 8," he said. "They've broken ground. You should drive by there one day. There's a hole in the ground and they're building. My goal is to just have the thing stood up and have people go 'wow.' The community can feel great about itself. Maybe we can get some restaurants around there or a little shopping so that that area really fast starts to resemble [Chinatown]."

[RELATED: John Wall's new contract makes Wizards' future clear]

Leonsis said he expects information about the new G-League team's name and branding will be released this fall. He mentioned three months, which would mean October.

Soon after that we could learn of staff additions. The G-League team will have a whole new staff from the front office to coaching to public relations. 

Team president Ernie Grunfeld expects some people to be added by the start of 2018.

"We're gonna have to put some additions on sometime this year just to get people ready so they know our system and they're in place so it's not going to be a shock to their system of what we're trying to do," he said. 

[RELATED: Wall and Wizards' union is a display of commitment rarely seen]

The Wizards will have two players on two-way contracts this season in Michael Young and Devin Robinson. They will spend the majority of their time in the G-League with the allowance of 45 days maximum at the NBA level. Grunfeld said the Wizards expect to use multiple G-League teams this season until they have their own. Last season they used several such as the Delaware 87ers and Northern Arizona Suns.

The G-League coaching staff will essentially be an extension of Wizards head coach Scott Brooks' group and he expects to work closely with the G-League team once it is fully assembled.

"I'm going to be able to go there quite a bit on off-days or off-nights. If they have a game, I can go there and vice versa, they can come here." he said. 

"It's another commitment from our ownership group. It's important to develop your own players. It's going to be nice to be in our own city so that we can integrate the G-League staff and the players with us. I had a situation in my other job, with the other team I was with, and you utilize it."

[RELATED: NBA reacts to John Wall's new contract]

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John Wall's new contract makes Wizards' future clear in terms of salaries and personnel

John Wall's new contract makes Wizards' future clear in terms of salaries and personnel

With a four-year extension that runs through the 2022-23 season, the Wizards and John Wall have hitched their wagons for the longhaul. Wall has committed to playing in Washington through his Age 32 season. Now that he is firmly in place, the Wizards' future in terms of salaries and personnel is quite clear.

Wall, who turns 27 in September, will be there through 2023. Bradley Beal and Otto Porter, who each turned 24 last month, are under contract through 2020-21 with Porter's final season including a player option.

The Wizards have almost $100 million committed for that 2020-21 season, meaning they are tightly locked in with Wall, Beal and Porter leading the charge. Center Ian Mahinmi is the only other Wizards player with a contract beyond 2018-19.

Washington is in a good spot given Wall, Beal and Porter are all young and still improving. They will reach their ceiling as a trio at some point, but even after winning 49 games and their division this past season, it doesn't seem like they are there quite yet. All three could conceivably make another significant leap. If any combination of them do, the Wizards' will be sitting pretty.

[RELATED: NBA reacts to John Wall's new contract]

Wall is probably closer to reaching his peak than the other two given he is further along in his career and already a perennial All-Star and All-NBA selection. The question regarding him may be how his game will age over the course of this contract which now runs six more years.

Wall shared some insight into how he hopes his game develops over the next several years in an interview with NBATV during a Wizards' Summer League game. He mentioned improving his post-up game as a big guard and also his three-point shot. Wall pointed to Jason Kidd, who found new life later in his career as a consistent three-point shooter.

Following Kidd's lead is perfect for Wall. Kidd was a very similar point guard at Wall's age. At 6-4 and with incomparable speed, he overmatched many of his opponents with pure physical superiority. Like Wall, Kidd was a pass-first guard but could score plenty without being a major threat from three. 

[RELATED: Wall and Wizards' union is a display of commitment rarely seen]

But later in his career, Kidd developed an outside shot and it helped him play until he was 39. Kidd was still making All-Star teams as late as 36.

Wall just completed his Age 26 season and through seven years in the NBA he's shot 32.1 percent from three on 2.7 attempts per game. At the same age, Kidd had shot 32.7 percent from three on 3.2 attempts per game. That is almost identical.

Kidd actually didn't truly hit his stride from three until his mid-30s, once he wasn't the fastest anymore and he needed to expand his game. From age 34 through 39, Kidd shot 37.8 percent from beyond the arc including over 40 percent in 2008-09 and 2009-10 at 35- and 36-years-old, respectively.

By the time Kidd was done, he was one of the top three-point shooters of all-time. He currently ranks eighth in NBA history with 1,988 career threes.

We don't know exactly how Wall's game will progress over the next few years. What we do know is that it will be in Washington and with Beal and Porter as his running mates.

[RELATED: Wizards are building something special in Eastern Conference]