Originally written on Wizards Extreme  |  Last updated 2/19/13
Welp. Houston was fun. A lotta fun. And now I’m finally dwindling back to reality. Back to business. Back to my Washington Wizards, who have plenty to address as we head into the latter portion of the season. So without any further ad-lib, here is the pre-game buzz: Josh Smith and Jordan Crawford own the water-cooler topics after All-Star Weekend: The Hawks want to rid themselves of the possibility of getting abandoned by the soon-to-be free agent Smith and have stated their firm intent to move him by Thursday’s deadline. It has been reported that the Wizards are flirting with the Hawks about Smith, but have also confirmed that Wall, Beal and Nene in return are off limits. For a moment, let’s focus on a potential starting five, should Smith be acquired: Wall, Beal, Smith, Okafor and Nene. Smith is very effective offensively, coming off career numbers last year and very close to the same figures this year. Although for some fans Smith’s knack for shooting low percentage 20-foot jumpers may draw concern, it’s fair to point out that Smith would be playing with John Wall at the helm, someone who could feed Smith right where he needs to (mainly down in the low block), which will allow Smith to dominate where he’s best. Smith’s size and mobility also make him effective on offense when driving to the rim, and defensively as well, a trait that will only benefit an already productive frontcourt. The Josh Smith storyline makes for a perfect segway to the subplot of Jordan Crawford, which is a complete separate issue the Wizards are tackling. Jordan Crawford has officially been reported as being shopped around. It’s crazy how a season can unfold for a player. Not too long ago, Crawford was appointed to run a stagnant Wizards offense while John Wall sat out and Bradley Beal struggled. Although Crawford produced a solid stat-line (as sourly iterated on his Twitter), his individual success during that month didn’t translate into team success, as the Wizards were 3-11 in December, including an 8-game losing streak. Crawford obviously doesn’t hold the value for a straight-up offer, which opens up chatter about whom else on the roster would be included. Perhaps one, or BOTH of the other lottery picks from 2011? Jan Vesley and Chris Singleton make a good advertisement as players who could either continue to develop, or inexpensive players that are closing in on the end of their rookie contacts. For all we know he may also end up being traded for a handful of future draft picks and a gift card. Either way, we’ll hear the fate of Josh Smith and Jordan Crawford regardless of where they land within the next 48 hours. Beal and Wall should give us fans plenty to be amped about in the second half of the season: Fresh off the plane and feeling like a million bucks, Bradley Beal beat me back to DC and got right back to work, and right back to running with the starters. Beal, who we’ve all been impatiently waiting for to be named a starter again, said in a chat with WaPo’s Michael Lee that he’s ready to take on whatever gig he’s assigned. Admirable is one Bradley Beal who continues to maintain his work ethic and dedication to the success of the team. More so admirable is his growth on the floor. Before being sidelined with the wrist injury, Beal had begun his emergence. After a few weeks of nursing, Beal seems to be back at full strength, and the evidence of that is the career night against Milwaukee just two games in from returning. The nature of Wall and Beal’s potential together on the court was the unfortunate demise of Jordan Crawford’s role, but hey, crap happens. Show up or throw up. Whatever. Recently, the Wizards have been winning more so than not and hopefully the emergence of this backcourt will continue to draw those results. Wall has been on a good tear since returning from his injury, with a 'per 36' statline of 18 and 9. Looking ahead into tonight: The first night back from vacation features the new-look Toronto Raptors in town, lead by Rudy Gay and DeMar Derozan. The Raptors have been on a streak of their own, winning four straight before the All-Star break. Gay, averaging 21 points per game since being acquired, has been a threat on offense for the Raptors, which has opened up Derozan’s game, who has been averaging 19 since Gay came aboard. The Raptors’ interior is sub-average. Andres Bargniani has been riddled with injury for most of the season and Jonas Valanciunas has picked up the slack only to an extent. Amir Johnson can certainly be a force, but I don’t foresee Martell Webster, Emeka Okafor or Nene having a great deal of trouble matching up against any of those guys. The Raptors also have a few players who can be 3-point threats, namely Kyle Lowry and Alan Anderson, so the perimeter defense should look to be lock-down as well. The Wizards play six of their next seven games at home, including tonight. Four of those matchups are against the Nuggets, Rockets, Knicks and Sixers; all teams in current playoff position. Their lone away game during this stretch is a rematch with the Raptors in Toronto.
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