- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 19, 2015

On the beach in Miami, Washington Wizards forward Kris Humphries sat in the sand with ice on his achy back instead of in a drink. Wizards coach Randy Wittman spent extended time with his wife, Kathy, playing in the back of his head how he would manage the final 28 games of the regular season. John Wall was doing superstar things in New York City at all-star weekend before taking off for a beach visit himself. Shooting guard Bradley Beal tried to heal and figure out what was wrong.

The Wizards spread out, relaxed and recovered during the exceedingly long all-star break. They have not played a game since Feb. 11. That finally changes Friday night when LeBron James and the fixed and reformulated Cleveland Cavaliers come to Verizon Center.

Beal is not expected to play against the Cavaliers. He will visit doctors again Friday to have his right big toe and lower right leg looked at. Wittman said Beal’s toe has improved. It’s the mild stress reaction in his lower right fibula that the Wizards continue to look into. Beal has not played since Feb. 5 and the timetable for his return is unknown.

“It’s progressing,” Wittman said. “His toe feels great. He really didn’t have anything to show in the shin area other than what showed up in that little hot spot.”

Humphries, who fell on his back Feb. 9 against the Orlando Magic, said he had bruising, swelling a target for jokes from friends. X-rays were clear, and Humphries did not have an MRI, so he’s not sure of the extent of the injury. He participated in most of practice Wednesday night and was involved in all of practice Thursday. He said he’s still sore, but should be ready to play against Cleveland.

The Wizards did make a moderate move just before what became a ferocious trade deadline Thursday, when they swapped veteran point guard Andre Miller for point guard Ramon Sessions of the Sacramento Kings.

Sessions is in his eighth season and will join his 11th team. He’s averaged double-digit scoring in the past, putting up 15.8 points per game as recently as the start of the 2013-14 season when he was playing 32.5 minutes per game in Milwaukee an shot 46.1 percent from the field.

In 36 games off the bench this season for the Kings, Sessions has not played well. He is shooting what is by far a career-low 34.4 percent from the field and has a woeful player-efficiency rating of 8.26, though, for his career, Sessions has a 16.2 PER, including one season at 19.0. League average is 15. For comparison, Wall’s rating is 20.79 this season.

Sessions, 28, will give the Wizards‘ second unit more scoring and the ability to create off the dribble, two things that group desperately needed. He is also under contract for next season with a $2,170,465 base salary. The best-case scenario for the Wizards is that Sessions is able to become a double-digit scorer with the second unit, allowing Wall to reduce his minutes a bit during the final 28 games of the season. Wall is still dealing with a sprained right ankle after an active all-star break.

Miller was traded almost a year after he was acquired. The Wizards were part of a three-team deal Feb. 19, 2014 in which they dealt Jan Vesely to the Denver Nuggets and Eric Maynor plus a protected second-round pick to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Miller helped the second unit after his arrival last season, but his time on the floor this year had dwindled. In January, he played a season-low 11.5 minutes per game. Wittman constantly pressed Miller to run the team at a higher pace than he was. The 38-year-old Miller, the oldest active player in the NBA, had also become a defensive liability. The trade reunites Miller with his former coach when both were with the Denver Nuggets, George Karl.

The Wizards still have a vacant roster spot and have until the end of the regular season to sign a free agent. Bringing Sessions in likely means the Wizards will look for more shooting and wing play to put with their second unit. Any player currently on a roster has to be waived by March 1 to be eligible to play in the playoffs this season with a new team.

Noise from the trade deadline trumped notice that James and the Cavaliers would be in Washington for a crucial game. The Wizards have split the season series with the Cavs, who began a rapid improvement after making trades to obtain guards J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert, plus center Timofey Mozgov in early January. The Wizards are just a half-game ahead of the Cavaliers for the fourth spot — and homecourt advantage for a possible 4-5 matchup in the playoffs — after Cleveland went 14-2 in its last 16 games.


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