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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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Hawks All-Star Paul Millsap to opt out and enter NBA free agency, report says

Hawks All-Star Paul Millsap to opt out and enter NBA free agency, report says

What ESPN reported during the season will in fact come true, as Paul Millsap signaled his intentions to opt out of his contract with the Atlanta Hawks and become a free agent.

The newest report comes from Yahoo! Sports, who confirmed Millsap's plans. The 32-year-old will opt out of a deal worth roughly $21 million for the 2017-18 season as he aims for longer terms either with the Hawks or a new team.

Millsap, according to Pro Basketball Talk, could be in line for a contract that starts at $35 million per season. If he stays in Atlanta, that could be a five-year deal worth about $205 million. If he leaves to sign elsewhere, he could earn $152 million over four years.

It makes perfect sense for Millsap to opt out at this point given his age, the increase in the NBA's salary cap and the fact he's coming off another All-Star season. The 11-year pro averaged a career-high 18.1 points to go along with 7.7 rebounds per game this year in 69 games.

Millsap was the best player on a Hawks team that earned the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. He can do just about everything well as a mobile big man who can shoot from the outside and work in the post. Last season he was named to the All-Defensive team, as well.

At this point odds are good he stays in Atlanta given their interest and the fact they can pay him more. But he will be one of the most highly sought after players in free agency. Either way, it's something to watch for Wizards fans as the Hawks are their biggest competitors in the Southeast Division. If anything, him leaving could mean less Millsap vs. Markieff Morris and we can all agree that is not a good thing.

[RELATED: Wizards hope to sign Wall to contract extension]

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Wizards hope to sign John Wall to contract extension this offseason

Wizards hope to sign John Wall to contract extension this offseason

The Wizards haven't reached out to John Wall yet, but they expect to discuss an extension this summer with the four-time All-Star since he was named to the All-NBA for the first time in his seven-year career.

An extension with Wall will be the top priority of the offseason in which Otto Porter is also a restricted free agent, league sources tell CSNmidatlantic.com.

Wall signed a five-year, $80 million extension in 2013 when the salary cap was just less than $60 million. The 2013-14 season was the final year of his rookie scale deal and then the last three years have been part of the extension. He has two years left.

After the collective bargaining agreement was renegotiated and approved earlier this year, a Designated Veteran Player Extension was added. It's another mechanism to help teams retain their own free agents because they can offer significantly more money -- and an extra year -- than another team that doesn't hold his Bird rights. 

[RELATED: How much did fatigue play a role in how the Wizards' season ended?]

That All-NBA selection means that Wall, who averaged a career-high in points (23.1), assists (10.7), steals (2.0) and field-goal accuracy (45.1%), qualifies for 35% of the cap instead of the standard 30% max. Previously, a player was required to be in the league 10 years to be eligible for 35%.

Wall can add up to four years of an extension on the two years that he has left for almost $170 million.

From league sources close to the situation, Wall wants to see a bigger picture plan on where the franchise is headed before committing for longer. The Wizards won 49 games this season and advanced to the conference semifinals for the third time in four years. 

The salary cap for 2017-18 is projected to be almost double of what it was four years ago at $101 million. Before settling on what to do with Porter's contract, the Wizards have to figure out if they can lock in their best player and go from there in the offseason.

[RELATED: John Wall knows what Wizards need to upgrade for next season]