- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Washington Wizards will enter the 2012-13 season with a revamped roster and a new attitude when the season begins on Oct. 30. With no lockout looming, a complete minicamp and training camp and No. 3 overall pick Bradley Beal, the 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Florida in the lineup, next season could provide Wizards fans with more hope than they’ve had in seasons past.

The Wizards made two critical roster moves in the offseason that will help the team begin moving in a new direction by trading Rashard Lewis and using the amnesty provision to release Andray Blatche. Blatche is an unrestricted free agent and remains unsigned, while Lewis signed a two-year deal with the Miami Heat.

Beal is expected provide some much needed offensive firepower for a team that finished 20-46 last year.

“I’m really just trying to learn quick and fit into the system as best as I can,” said Beal, who was named to the All-NBA summer-league team this year. 

The Wizards will open the season on the road against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Oct. 30. The home opener will be Nov. 3 against the Boston Celtics.

Some of the schedule highlights include visits from the NBA champion Heat on Dec. 4 and April 10, the L.A. Lakers on Dec. 14 and the L.A. Clippers on Feb. 4.

Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder will come to Verizon Center on Jan. 7, the Brooklyn Nets on Jan. 4 and Feb. 8 and the New York Knicks on Feb. 6 and March 1.

“We have had a very productive offseason and we are looking forward to being back on the court at Verizon Center when we open our home schedule against Boston,” said Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld in a statement.

“We feel confident that the moves we have made will help us build on the positive momentum we saw at the end of last season and that our fans will be excited about the team that we’ll have on the floor.”

The Wizards’ final home game will take place on April 12 when they host the Philadelphia 76ers. The team will have eight three-game homestands and host three sets of back-to-back home games (Jan. 25-26 vs. Minnesota and Chicago, Feb. 22-23 vs. Denver and Houston, and March 15-16 vs. New Orleans and Phoenix).

The team’s longest road trip will take place from Jan. 16-23 when it heads west to visit the Sacramento Kings, Denver Nuggets, the L.A. Clippers, Portland Trailblazers and Utah Jazz. The most condensed part of the schedule will be Dec. 11-22, when the Wizards play eight games in 12 days.

Other new faces in Wizards uniforms this season include 6-foot-10 center/forward Emeka Okafor and 6-foot-8 forward Trevor Ariza, whom the Wizards acquired in the Lewis trade. The team also signed Cartier Martin for the season, the 6-foot-7 swingman who came in at the end of last season on a couple of 10-day contracts and provided a spark of energy and a scoring punch off the bench.

The Wizards also added A.J. Price, a 6-foot-2 guard who spent three seasons with the Indiana Pacers. Price is expected to replace Shelvin Mack as John Wall’s primary backup at the point guard spot.

“I’m happy to be here,” Price said. “I think I’ll fit I’m. Looking at the roster, I see the backup point, my position, was a need, so I think I’ll have the opportunity to come in and contribute right away.”

Price said he sees a lot of similarities between the Pacers team he played for during his first year — a team struggling to make the playoffs and find just the right mix of young players and veterans — and the team that made the playoffs his last two seasons.

“We’ve got a good mix of young and old and a lot of talent here,” Price said of his new team. “We’ve just got to come together as a team and keep believing.”

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