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NBA Rumors: Trouble in Washington with the Wizards?

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Bradley Beal, John Wall Blast Wizards

via Twitter

The Wizards’ current three-game losing streak has coincided with the Toronto Raptors, who beat them during this stretch in overtime, bouncing back and winning seven of their last 10. That’s resulted in the Raptors taking over the No. 2 spot and dropping the Wizards down a notch.

It’s important to note that while Wall and Beal are the faces of the Wizards, they’re also two of the younger players on a team that is loaded with those far more experienced. Despite the closeness of the Wizards’ defeats, with the worst being to the Phoenix Suns by eight, they have to be legitimately concerned in order to call out their veteran teammates like that.

A lot of the onus during this down stretch has to land on the shoulders of Marcin Gortat and Nene, who are not producing at their accustomed standards as of late. The duo, both over 30 years old now, may be hitting a bit of a midseason wall, meaning coach Wittman may need to rely on the reserves Kevin Seraphin and Kris Humphries a little more in order to ease their workload and give them more recovery time.

LeBron urges Love to stay aggressive

After Kevin Love scored a season-low five points Monday and didn’t attempt a shot after going 1-for-7 in the first quarter, LeBron James suggested there were more shots available for Love that he turned down and questioned whether his teammate’s confidence might be shaken.

“I think Kev had some shots that he passed up on,” James said. “Maybe he felt that he just wasn’t in a good rhythm, but I know I hit him with a few [potential] shots after the first quarter where he had some good looks when he decided to swing-swing [with a pass], which is OK, it kept the ball moving. So, I think for Kev, I think his confidence maybe shooting the ball is a little down, but for me as a player, I get him good looks. I want him to shoot the ball and he needs to shoot it with confidence.”

via Dave McMenamin of ESPN

This is on the heels of a five-point effort for Love in which he did not attempt a single shot in the final three quarters. The Cavaliers did go on to win their 11th straight of the season, but they know maximizing Love’s talents is essential in a potential championship run. They can’t afford for him to be a bystander offensively if they’re going to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy.

Love responded by saying that his confidence is fine, and that he’s simply focusing on ways to help other than with his offense right now. But, for a player who averaged 26 a game last year, that’s not what he’s best suited for, albeit somewhat admirable that he’s willing to sacrifice his offense for the time being. Still, he’s one of the tougher covers in the league, and shouldn’t be conceding as much as he is to Kyrie Irving and James right now. With him as a threat to go for 20 any given night, the Cavaliers become virtually unguardable.

Vaughn weathering the storm

With speculation swirling that the Orlando Magic will fire him, perhaps even before the All-Star break, coach Jacque Vaughn said he’s done well at blocking out all the noise about his job security or lack thereof.

“I think you’ve seen my demeanor: It hasn’t changed,” Vaughn said Monday, before his Magic faced the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

“My approach hasn’t changed, and that’s why I can look myself in the mirror every single day. I have a peace that’s beyond the game of basketball, and I’ll continue to do my job like I have since I accepted it Day One.”

via Joshua Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel

The Magic went on to lose to the Oklahoma City Thunder 104-97 and for now Vaughn’s job remains safe. However, most feel like it is a foregone conclusion that he will be let go at some point this season, if not certainly during the summer time barring a magical (pardon the poor pun) comeback this season.

Vaughn’s never been given the pieces to seriously contend, but the lack of internal development and chemistry reflect poorly enough on him right now to put his job in jeopardy. Some may commend him for staying true to his beliefs until the very end, but adapting and adjusting to your personnel is a necessity in today’s NBA. It’s his ability to do just that, that makes his mentor Gregg Popovich so great. Yet, Vaughn does not appear to have any interest in changing for the sakes of saving his job, which is why his seat is hotter than any other in the league right now.

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About Yannis Koutroupis

Yannis Koutroupis

Yannis Koutroupis is Basketball Insiders' Managing Site Editor and Senior Writer. He has been covering the NBA and NCAA for seven years.

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