Things are still perilous here. The Wiz are just 16-18, a game out of the No. 8 spot, and paper thin. Scott Brooks has no clue what he’s going to get from his atrocious bench every night, or even who might get into the game. Hey, there’s Jason Smith! Wait, what happened to Andrew Nicholson, the other half of Orlando’s old backup frontcourt? Trey Burke scored 27 points last week against Brooklyn. It might take him three weeks to total up that many points again.
But the Wiz are playing with more fight. Markieff Morris has looked energetic on defense, including in switching onto Harden, and he and Gortat have unleashed some nice big-man passing. Washington’s small-ball lineups, with Otto Porter or Kelly Oubre at power forward, have managed well.
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The Wiz have to bring that kind of attuned energy every night. They don’t have enough talent to play entitled basketball.
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Chriss is gonna be good, but starting him is a great way to tank. The Suns are last in the West, jostling with Miami, Brooklyn, Philly, Dallas and the Lakers for the league lead in losses, and they’ve made a clear move toward youth the last couple of weeks. They’ve damn near benched both Brandon Knight and Jared Dudley — not that Knight was helping much — and reserved regular minutes for Dragan Bender.
The race to the bottom is going to be a fun second-half storyline, especially since the Lakers owe their pick to Philadelphia unless it falls within the top three.
But sources also say that the Kings, at season’s end, want to pitch Cousins on a long-term partnership in the summertime, knowing he’s going to be eligible in July for a Designated Player Extension that ?could make him one of a handful of $200 million players league wide.
The latest signals suggest it would take a monster offer to get the Kings to tweak those plans.
The Lakers keep their pick in the June draft only if they finish in the top three of the next NBA lottery.