They Can't All Be Winners, Part 10: Washington Wizards

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Sports are not as unpredictable as they are sometimes made out to be by excitable announcers. On a moment-by-moment basis, they’re eminently capable of producing awe, which is part of why they’re so enjoyable, but they’re rarely shocking. You know what would send my jaw crashing through my downstairs neighbor’s ceiling? If Rayo Vallecano won La Liga, or if Anthony Davis retired at the end of the season, citing a long-dormant but now all-consuming desire to run for public office. Things that will never happen, in other words. That’s not to sound sour, or dissatisfied with the surprising delights sports give us, but there is a lot of stuff in sportsworld about which we can be certain. For instance: the Washington Wizards are inert.

Some of this is down to the sideline presence of Randy Wittman, who has curious and occasional dalliances with competence that undermine the perception he’s an all-world boob, but who also has a trying-to-think face so blank and helpless it’s impossible to make an earnest claim that he knows what he’s doing most of the time. And some of it is down to Marcin Gortat and Nene, two abundantly skilled, near-seven-foot men who play with a stubborn, cat-hunkered-under-a-porch shyness. There’s something bummerish about all three of these guys, and the idea of the Wizards excelling with any of them involved is like some fantastical aborted Apollo mission that planned to employ Tennessee Williams as a command module pilot.

John Wall and Bradley Beal make beautiful sense together, which is why it’s such a shame one or both of them always seem to be rehabbing some injury or another, either parked on the bench or ambling around the court injuredly, trying to get themselves back onto the rest of the team’s wavelength. Beal in particular looks like he might be slated to have a career that never quite blooms because his lower body won’t cooperate. What could be and sometimes is the finest backcourt in the league that doesn’t feature Steph Curry exists as much in the imagination—in Wizards bloggers half-lamenting, half-dreaming: once Beal gets himself healthy...—as it does in real life.

It’s no wonder that persuading Kevin Durant to come home in the summer of 2016 is something that’s only whispered about in Washington. No one wants to jinx the attempt. Beal is 22, Wall is 25, and the NBA is as volatile as it’s ever been in terms of offseason movement, but there’s nothing other than Durant’s return on the horizon to save the Wizards from at least a couple more years of merely okay basketball that goes nowhere. And while the media can drag any absurd transaction into the realm of possibility when it’s late June and they’re starved for interesting stories, the Durant coup looks like a longshot at the moment. This is a team that has spent the past few months vexing over the gaping void left by the exit of Crimean War vet Paul Pierce. They have some serious in-season convincing to do.

Previously on TCABW: Charlotte Hornets Philadelphia 76ers Houston Rockets Los Angeles Lakers Dallas Mavericks |Indiana Pacers Oklahoma City Thunder Memphis Grizzlies | Chicago Bulls

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