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Wizards have mixed feelings about how this season ended, but say next year must be different

Wizards have mixed feelings about how this season ended, but say next year must be different

There are so many factors to weigh in determining whether the Wizards' 2016-17 season was a success or a disappointment. The expectations were set and reset multiple times coming off a 2015-16 season where they missed the playoffs, then after a stunning 2-8 start and then throughout a magical run that ended with a second round playoff exit.

The Wizards' season was a mixed bag of various extremes. Because of that, the players have differing opinions in evaluating what happened.

"Overall, I think it was a good season," guard Bradley Beal said. "As disappointing as we can call it, we can still take a lot of good out of it... We were able to advance further in the playoffs than we've ever been."

"I feel like we could have gone farther. It was a disappointing season," forward Otto Porter said. "In our minds, we could have gotten to the Finals to contend for a championship."

The Wizards' season technically ended just like it did in the 2014 and 2015 playoffs, in the second round and just short of a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals. There were, however, many reasons to think this team was better than those teams and thus this year represented not only a step in the right direction, but brand new ground in the John Wall era.

[RELATED: Wall's All-NBA nod puts him among best in franchise history]

They got to 49 wins and won their division, both firsts for the franchise since 1978-79. They found considerable success under new head coach Scott Brooks, reaching a new level offensively. Most on their roster took noticeable steps forward in their development, everyone from Wall and Beal to Porter and Kelly Oubre, Jr. Wall's improvement earned him All-NBA honors for the first time in his career.

Still, the Wizards wanted more than what they ended up achieving. Especially towards the end of the season, as they battled for positioning in the East during the regular season, got past the Hawks in the first round and battled closely with the Celtics, they dreamt big. At one point even the Cavaliers looked vulnerable. Some wondered if this could be the Wizards' year to do some real damage in the playoffs.

Reality ultimately struck and the Wizards were left in a familiar spot. But here's what we know is different about this time around: next year a second round exit will almost certainly not be good enough. They want to go reach at least the conference finals and anything less will not do.

"I'm tired of being in this situation. I'm tired of losing in the second round," Beal said. "Next season it will be totally different. We have to remember the feeling we have right now and be better next year."

"Now our expectations are a lot higher," forward Markieff Morris said. "Especially having a year under our belt with this group."

Whether the Wizards can get to the conference finals or beyond next spring will depend on many things between health, improvement from within and the roster adjustments they make. But the goal is clear and the Wizards will have to wait a full calendar year to get their next shot at it.

[RELATED: Wall should have been All-NBA 2nd team over Isaiah Thomas]

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Sources: Wizards still in pursuit of trade for Pacers superstar Paul George

Sources: Wizards still in pursuit of trade for Pacers superstar Paul George

Even though Paul George remains the longest of shots, the Wizards haven't given up pursuit, league sources tell CSNmidatlantic.com, though there's a prevailing feeling that nothing will happen before free agency opens July 1.

The Boston Celtics appear to be the favorite in working out a deal with the Indiana Pacers to land the All-Star small forward, who is guaranteed $19.5 million for 2017-18 but will opt out of his contract next summer to become an unrestricted free agent.

The Pacers haven't been able to get the deal that they want just yet, and they've called teams around the league to gauge interest in what they could get for George.

[RELATED: All of these unlikely things must happen to pull off George trade]

The Wizards appear content to stand pat until the Pacers decide what to do. Keeping George, who has made it known that he wants to play for the L.A. Lakers, isn't an option for Indiana. By dealing him now, they'll at least get something for him rather than letting him walk for nothing one year from now.

Wizards point guard John Wall, who is good friends with George, is doing his best to recruit him to play in Washington with Bradley Beal to establish their own Big 3.

There's no guarantee, however, that will sustain. 

[RELATED: Why the Wizards make sense for Paul George]

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All of the unlikely things that must happen for the Wizards to trade for Paul George

All of the unlikely things that must happen for the Wizards to trade for Paul George

The words of John Wall has resurrected the talk of Paul George playing for the Wizards in 2017-18, but nothing has changed to improve the prospects of that happening.

1) George is under contract for $19.5 million with the Indiana Pacers before he enters a player option for 2018-19 that he’ll surely exercise to become an unrestricted free agent. The Wizards have to make Indiana an offer that it’ll accept but with understanding there no promises beyond that one year of George’s services.

2) Let’s say the Wizards put forth enough in a salary match such as Marcin Gortat’s $12.8 million for this season, Tomas Satoransky ($3 million) and first-round picks, which would come with a projected cap hold to make a deal work, would the Pacers want it? This isn’t the same as Blake Griffin opting out of his deal with the Clippers to become a free agent. A team can deal directly with him in the open market (and no, the Wizards can’t afford him). With George, the Pacers are the third party and can pull the plug on anything.

3) Any deal that involves Bradley Beal, who is under contract for four more years, is a no-go. Can’t have a Big 3 without him coming off his best season as a pro. And it would probably include Otto Porter being put into the deal for George. Porter, of course, doesn’t have any incentive to do a sign-and-trade because he gets significantly less in such a deal under the new CBA rules. He’d either have to really want to do the Wizards a solid or really love the prospect of being in Indianapolis.

4) Assume that George were to end up here and wanted to stay despite all of those hurdles. The money alone makes it a salary cap nightmare with Beal’s $25.4 million, Wall’s $19.1 million and Ian Mahinmi’s $15.9 million on the books when George would command a max of his own in the summer of 2018. To keep George around beyond (and he has even made it clear to Wall he wants to be in L.A.) would require financial gymnastics that aren't plausible.

5) Having George linger all season long in Indiana knowing he’s on his way out can be toxic. It’s better for the Pacers and the player that they move and not allow this situation to drag out. Otherwise, every time George has a bad game or the team underperforms they’ll face questions. Teammates and coaches will be bombarded with a season full of inquiries about the topic. It’ll be a lost year instead of one where they hit the reset. There’s no point of delaying the inevitable. Of course, the Pacers have taken this long knowing it was in the offing and haven’t moved on George. Or they're simply waiting for the Boston Celitcs to put together a package. With their assets and plethora of picks, the Celtics can afford to take a gamble on George for a year.

As CSNmidatlantic.com reported a few weeks ago, Wall wants to see where the franchise heading before he signs an extension as early as this summer. While a player the caliber of George would wow him now, what would the Wizards look like in two years without George, Porter and a few first-round picks?

MORE WIZARDS: Wizards reportedly extend qualifying offers to Porter, Bogdanovic