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BALTIMORE — The Washington Wizards – and team owner Ted Leonsis – had said just days ago that they would not trade any of their big three (John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr.) at the Feb. 7 trade deadline.
Instead, they wanted to focus on making the playoffs this season.
The Wizards had a shot at the final spot in the Eastern Conference, but then everything suddenly changed.
The team knew Wall would be out for the rest of the season due to heel surgery from last month. Then, the team found out Wall would miss about 12 months as he ruptured his Achilles tendon on that foot (left) by slipping in his house.
Washington changed course after that. The Wizards shipped out Porter to Chicago in exchange for Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker and sent forward Markieff Morris, who has been injured with neck and shoulder issues, to New Orleans for Wesley Johnson on Feb. 6.
The team also picked up two draft picks in the deals, and there’s a chance none of those three guys will be with the team next season. Or maybe they will. Johnson and Porter’s contracts expire this year, and Parker has a deal which gives the team the option to pick him up next season.
Translation: this was a salary dump, and we will see what the future holds.
These things could give the Wizards a lot more room to play with in terms of looking at free agents and making moves. It changes the way the team approaches the future. Center Thomas Bryant and guard Tomas Satoransky are growing into bigger roles with the team, and the Wizards could have the beginnings of a better situation.
“It’s been a heck of a week, I’ll tell you that,” Bryant told The Washington Post. “Just dealing with injuries and guys being traded…we’ve just got to stick together.”
CAPS STILL UP AND DOWN
The Washington Capitals suffered a painful 5-4 loss to the Florida Panthers on Feb. 9 that kind of summarizes what’s been wrong with their season at times.
After that game, Washington remained just three points behind the first-place New York Islanders – coached by Barry Trotz, remember him? – but the Capitals can’t seem to stop making mistakes and taking penalties at the wrong times.
The Capitals, after the Saturday loss, led the National Hockey League in penalties, and taking one at the wrong time burned them again. Brett Connolly scored twice with one assist but got called for slashing with four seconds left in regulation.
That gave the Panthers a power play heading into overtime, and they took advantage of it as Mike Hoffman scored the game-winning goal.
“To take a penalty at that time of the game – good call, bad call, whatever – that’s one we can’t take there, and they made us pay for it,” Washington Coach Todd Reirden told the media later.
The Capitals still won three of five on their homestand coming out of the break, and their defense has been better overall, but they’ve got to do better on the penalties.
BAYSOX GET NEW MANAGER
The Orioles revealed last week that long-time Bowie manager Gary Kendall is moving up to Triple-A Norfolk and former Baysox team member Buck Britton will become the skipper.
Britton, the brother of former Oriole closer Zack Britton (it’s spelled with a “k” now, folks), will be joined by Kennie Steenstra (pitching coach) and Keith Bodie (hitting coach). Josh Conway also will be a coach on the team.
Britton managed Class A Delmarva last year, and the Shorebirds finished at 68-66. When in the Orioles’ system, he played with Frederick, Bowie and Norfolk.
His best season with Bowie was likely in 2012. That season, he played 99 games with the Baysox and had a .294 average with nine homers and 54 RBI. He drove in 52 runs in 61 games the next year and, in 2014, hit .317 in 61 games again.