Bradley Beal

Eastern Notes: Oladipo, Celtics, Heat, Beal, Cavs

Victor Oladipo turned down a contract extension offer from the Pacers that started at over $25MM, league sources tell former NBA executive Ryan McDonough of (Twitter link). NBA rules would have allowed Indiana to go up to a starting salary of $25.2MM on an extension for Oladipo, and it sounds like the team was willing to go that high, based on McDonough’s report.

With Oladipo seeking a more lucrative contract in free agency, where he’ll be eligible for a starting salary worth up to $33.7MM, the Pacers realized they would likely lose him during the summer of 2021, McDonough explains. That’s why Indiana was willing to move him in a deal for Caris LeVert this week. That trade between the Rockets and Pacers – which was separated from the rest of the James Harden blockbuster – isn’t yet official, but should be soon.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • After dealing with a roster shortage for much of the week, the Celtics will have some reinforcements for Friday night’s contest vs. Orlando, their first game since last Friday. Jaylen Brown, Daniel Theis, Semi Ojeleye, and Javonte Green are all out of the NBA’s health and safety protocols and are available tonight, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.
  • With Harden off the market, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald revisits the Heat‘s potential trade options if they want to make a splash before the March 25 deadline. As Jackson has mentioned multiple times in the past, Miami would be very interested in Bradley Beal if the Wizards were to make him available.
  • The Cavaliers will carry approximately $309K in dead money for Thon Maker after waiving his non-guaranteed contract to accommodate their Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince acquisitions, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Maker was paid about $11.9K per day for 26 days of service.

Wizards Notes: G League, Bell, Beal, Center

Having agreed to share some of the Erie BayHawks’ operating costs with the Pelicans this season, the Wizards will also get the opportunity to embed one of their coaches with the G League squad, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic, who tweets that player development assistant Mike Williams will be part of Erie’s staff.

Additionally, four preseason Exhibit 10 contract recipients who would have become the Wizards’ affiliate players if the Capital City Go-Go had been part of the revamped G League season will now join the BayHawks instead. As Ava Wallace of The Washington Post tweets, those four players are Jordan Bell, Yoeli Childs, Caleb Homesley, and Marlon Taylor.

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • Michael Pina of Sports Illustrated makes a case for why the Wizards should seriously consider trading Bradley Beal sooner rather than later. Pina wrote his column before James Harden was moved, but that deal should only make Beal a more attractive trade target for the teams that missed out on Harden.
  • Could the Wizards turn to free agency in an effort to fortify their center position following Thomas Bryant‘s season-ending ACL tear? Frank Urbina of HoopsHype identifies six available players the team should consider if it wants to sign a big man.
  • The Wizards’ 3-8 record puts them near the very bottom of the NBA standings, but the unusual nature of this season makes it too early to rush to judgement, argues Ben Golliver of The Washington Post.
  • In case you missed it, five Wizards players have reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, potentially jeopardizing the team’s Sunday and Monday games against Cleveland. The Wizards have already had two games (Wednesday’s and Friday’s) postponed this week due to the coronavirus.

O’Connor’s Latest: Harden, Beal, Nets, Sixers, Pelicans

While James Harden‘s offseason trade request has dominated NBA headlines for the last month or two, league sources question how willing Rockets general manager Rafael Stone is to deal the superstar guard this season, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer.

With the likes of John Wall, Christian Wood, and even rookie Jae’Sean Tate playing well, front office executives around the NBA believe the Rockets are becoming more confident that Harden will be comfortable staying in Houston for the rest of the season, writes O’Connor. The former MVP still prefers to be traded, but if the Rockets can build upon their early promise and improve their 3-5 record, he may not push quite as hard for a deal.

Here’s more from O’Connor:

  • Teams around the NBA are keeping close eye on the 2-8 Wizards in case Bradley Beal grows frustrated and decides he wants out. Both O’Connor and John Hollinger of The Athletic suggest there’s a case to be made that Beal could be even more appealing as a trade target than Harden. Beal is nearly four years younger than Harden and has “a more malleable game” that makes him a great fit in any system, O’Connor argues.
  • The presumed top suitors for Harden, including the Nets and Sixers, would also have interest in Beal, league sources tell The Ringer. The 76ers are a threat to acquire any available star player if they’re willing to put Ben Simmons on the table, but people around the league are more skeptical about Brooklyn’s ability to land a star, says O’Connor.
  • O’Connor asked 14 executives which under-the-radar teams could be candidates to acquire a star player via trade, and six named the Pelicans — rival execs don’t necessarily expect David Griffin to hoard New Orleans’ excess draft picks for years, given how good Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson already are. The Heat, Knicks, Mavericks, Nuggets, and Spurs also received votes.
  • In case you missed it, O’Connor also said that Wizards head coach Scott Brooks is “firmly” on the hot seat, as we detailed earlier today.

COVID-19 Notes: Protocols, Rosters, Beal, House

For COVID-19 tracing purposes, the NBA follows CDC guidelines, defining “close exposure” as having spent 15 or more minutes within six feet of someone who tests positive for the virus. As Tim Cato and Jared Weiss of The Athletic explain, league research has shown this doesn’t happen during games, where players don’t spend more than five or six total minutes within six feet of any one player. That’s why teams aren’t required to fully isolate following one positive test.

However, applying CDC guidelines – which are meant to cover average circumstances – to NBA games without accounting for all the extenuating factors in play may be risky, infectious disease physician Dr. Amesh Adalja tells The Athletic.

“We know that when people are engaged in athletic activity they’re often breathing faster,” Adalja said. “(It’s) more likely for more viral droplets to emanate during high intensity exercise, especially in indoor environments where people are less than six feet apart.”

As Cato and Weiss note, there haven’t been any confirmed examples of on-court transmission of COVID-19 between opposing NBA teams. If that does happen, the league may have to make some tough decisions, since applying week-long contact tracing protocols to entire squads following a positive test would make it difficult to continue playing games at all.

Here are more updates on how COVID-19 is affecting the NBA:

  • Some team executives are hoping to revisit the possibility of expanding rosters as a way to avoid COVID-related postponements, says Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link), the argument against adding more roster spots is that, as one exec put it: “More players means more risk.”
  • After missing Saturday’s game due to the health and safety protocols, Bradley Beal will be available for the Wizards on Monday, tweets Fred Katz of The Athletic.
  • The Rockets said today that Danuel House has been ruled out for the time being due to the league’s health and safety protocols, tweets Kelly Iko of The Athletic.
  • As the NBA considers ways to potentially tighten its coronavirus protocols, its primary areas of concern are what happens on team benches, in locker rooms, and on planes, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).

Southeast Notes: Beal, Bryant, Ball, Bamba

The Wizards didn’t find out that Bradley Beal wouldn’t be able to play Saturday night until an hour before game time, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic. Beal has been placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols because of contact tracing, which normally sidelines a player for seven days, assuming he continues to test negative for COVID-19. He landed there because of a post-game conversation Friday night with Boston’s Jayson Tatum, who subsequently tested positive for the virus.

A source tells Katz the league is still reviewing the Beal situation and hasn’t decided how long he will have to sit out. Washington has upcoming games that could be affected on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

“The NBA is really serious about this thing,” Rui Hachimura said. “We gotta (wear) masks on the bench and stuff, those kinds of stuff, and we gotta follow the rules. And we have to be ready. Any time — who knows? — someone (could) get injured or someone (could) get (ineligible). Brad just got called, and he can’t play right before the game. So, someone’s gotta step up and be ready every night.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Wizards may have suffered a significant loss Saturday night when starting center Thomas Bryant had to leave the game after hurting his left knee in the first quarter, Katz adds in the same story. An MRI will be conducted today to determine the extent of the damage, and a source tells Katz there’s hope it’s an injury to the MCL rather than the ACL. “T.B. is a huge part of what we do on both ends of the floor, and he’s been playing big for us,” Robin Lopez said. “… I hope everything turns out OK. I’m not sure what the status is right now, but we love having him on the floor. I love playing with him. I hope he’s OK.”
  • Hornets rookie LaMelo Ball entered the NBA record book Saturday, becoming the youngest player ever to post a triple-double. Sam Amick of The Athletic expects Ball to eventually replace Devonte’ Graham as the starting point guard, but admits it’s a difficult decision for coach James Borrego because Gordon Hayward handles so much of the playmaking for the first unit.
  • Magic center Mohamed Bamba is still playing catchup after the effects of a summer coronavirus case extended into this season, writes Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel. Bamba wasn’t cleared for contact work until December 16, and limited practice opportunities because of the condensed schedule have slowed his attempt to get back into game condition.

Bradley Beal Out Due To Health And Safety Protocols

Wizards guard Bradley Beal will miss tonight’s game against the Heat because of NBA health and safety protocols, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Beal is subject to contact tracing because of exposure to the Celtics’ Jayson Tatum, who tested positive for COVID-19.

While several Washington players came in close contact with Tatum during Friday’s game, the league is investigating Beal for potential exposure because he and Tatum spoke afterwards while standing close to each other, Charania adds (Twitter link).

The Wizards’ past two games have been against the Celtics and Sixers, who have both been hit hard by the virus.  Due to contact tracing and injuries, Philadelphia had just eight eligible players for today’s game.

The NBA’s protocol states that players under contact tracing can return after seven days as long as they continue to test negative. Including tonight’s game, the Wizards play four times in that span. Beal is the NBA’s leading scorer, averaging 35.0 PPG through his first nine games.

Southeast Notes: Beal, Hornets, Borrego, Avdija

Now that Bucks All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is no longer going to be a 2021 free agent candidate for the Heat, Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel wonders if Miami might pivot to eventually adding Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal, who holds a $37.26MM player option for the 2022/23 season. After swapping out point guard John Wall for All-Star Russell Westbrook in the offseason, the Wizards are off to a 1-5 start.

The 6’3″ Beal, 27, is a two-time All-Star and could be a great fit on the Heat as both a secondary ball-handler and an off-ball cutter. He is currently averaging a career-best 31.2 PPG on 47.8% shooting from the field and 87.7% shooting from the charity stripe. Though his three-point shooting through the first six games of the season is a low 27.3%, he is a career 37.9% three-point shooter, averaging 6.0 triples per contest over the course of his career.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • The Hornets have had to adjust their rotation given the absence of starting center Cody Zeller, and their transition to a faster small-ball lineup has proven effective thus far, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.
  • In a separate piece, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer wonders how long Hornets head coach James Borrego will ride his current starting lineup. Starting point guard Devonte’ Graham is struggling mighty with his offense, shooting 25% from the floor, while rookie draft selection LaMelo Ball could be a candidate for a promotion.
  • Wizards rookie wing Deni Avdija showcased his offensive skill set in his best game of the young season, a 130-109 Washington victory over the Timberwolves on Friday, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Avdija, the No. 9 pick in the 2020 draft, scored 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the floor, and recorded seven rebounds, three assists, and three steals. Hughes contends that it Avdija appears to have made progress in his ability to read the floor. “I love playmaking,” Avidja said. “I like making my teammates involved. I’m looking for them at every opportunity.”

Wizards Notes: Hachimura, Beal, Westbrook

The Wizards announced on December 21 that forward Rui Hachimura would be sidelined for approximately three weeks due to an eye issue (bi-lateral epidemic keratoconjunctivitis). However, he’s set to easily beat that recovery timeline.

Head coach Scott Brooks told reporters today that Hachimura will play on Thursday night vs. Chicago, as Ava Wallace of The Washington Post tweets. The second-year forward is expected to see about 20 minutes of action, Brooks added (Twitter link via Fred Katz of The Athletic).

While Hachimura isn’t exactly a star-caliber difference-maker, the Wizards will welcome any reinforcements they can get, given their slow start. Washington is tied for the NBA’s worst record at 0-4 so far.

Here’s more out of D.C.:

  • Bradley Beal‘s frustration was evident after Tuesday’s loss to Chicago, as he left without speaking to the media, a rarity for the Wizards star, tweets Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Beal explained to reporters today that he was watching film and said he doesn’t intend to let his frustrations carry over (link via Fred Katz). Still, it’s worth keeping a close eye on Beal this season, especially if the Wizards keep losing — if his commitment to the team wavers, there will be plenty of rival clubs ready to inquire on his availability.
  • Here’s more from Beal on the energy in the Wizards’ locker room following the 0-4 start:Nobody’s mad at their teammate or hates the next man. It’s not that type of emotion or feeling. I feel like everybody’s pissed off, I feel like that’s a good thing (Twitter link via Ava Wallace).
  • The Wizards should make a stronger effort to surround Russell Westbrook with more three-point shooters during his minutes, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic, who notes that Westbrook has played some of his minutes alongside three non-shooters.
  • In case you missed it, the Wizards picked up their 2021/22 options on Hachimura and Troy Brown, but opted to pass on their options for Jerome Robinson and Moritz Wagner.

Southeast Notes: Westbrook, Ross, Magic, Hornets

Russell Westbrook has yet to make his Wizards debut, and it won’t happen on Thursday night vs. Detroit. The team announced today (Twitter link) that Westbrook has been ruled out of tonight’s exhibition game for rest purposes.

As Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes, it’s somewhat surprising that the Wizards wouldn’t be more motivated to get Westbrook into an actual game to allow him to establish some chemistry with his new teammates. However, Scott Brooks suggested on Wednesday that the team doesn’t think preseason action is all that necessary for the veteran guard.

“With him being whatever it is, 13 years (in the NBA), an exhibition is not gonna make much a difference for him,” the Wizards head coach said. “… Normally, sometimes you say that you need a couple of games under your belt before you start the season, but with him, he’s probably the exception to that rule. He’s been in the league long enough. He knows what he needs to do to get his rhythm back.”

Like Westbrook, Davis Bertans will sit out Thursday’s preseason contest too, but Bradley Beal is expected to make his 2020/21 debut for the Wizards.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Terrence Ross has missed the Magic‘s first two preseason games due to a hairline fracture in his left big toe, but he sounds just about ready to return. Ross participated in all the contact drills during Wednesday’s practices and head coach Steve Clifford thinks there’s a good chance he’ll play on Thursday, per Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel (Twitter links).
  • Evaluating the Magic‘s November roster changes, John Hollinger of The Athletic writes that the club’s “defining move this offseason was its lack of moves.” With Jonathan Isaac out for the season, Hollinger wonders if the time is right for Orlando to “soft tank” rather than vying for a back-end playoff berth that would lead to another quick postseason exit.
  • The Hornets have lacked depth in recent years, but when the team is fully healthy this season, the likes of LaMelo Ball, Miles Bridges, Cody Martin, Caleb Martin, and Jalen McDaniels should all be coming off the bench, giving head coach James Borrego some intriguing lineup options, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.

More On Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Extension, Bucks

Following the Bucks‘ second-round postseason loss to Miami, reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo made a conscious decision to play a more vocal role in upgrading the team’s roster, according to a report from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Kevin Arnovitz.

During a fall lunch with Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry, GM Jon Horst, and Giannis’ agent Alex Saratsis, Antetokounmpo named a number of players whom he thought would be good offseason targets for Milwaukee, including Bradley Beal, Victor Oladipo, and Bogdan Bogdanovic, per Windhorst and Arnovitz.

Beal wasn’t available, the Bucks never got close to a deal for Oladipo, and their efforts to sign-and-trade for Bogdanovic fell through. However, Milwaukee zeroed in on another player on Giannis’ list, Jrue Holiday, believing he’d be a natural fit in the team’s lineup.

According to ESPN’s duo, the Nuggets and Celtics were aggressive in attempting to acquire a top-10 pick in last month’s draft to flip for Holiday. The Hawks were also interested in moving the No. 6 pick in a deal for the Pelicans guard, but ultimately abandoned that plan due to uncertainty over whether he’d want to remain in Atlanta beyond 2021.

The Bucks didn’t have a top-10 pick in 2020 to offer for Holiday, but were willing to put plenty of future first-rounders on the table. According to Windhorst and Arnovitz, Milwaukee initially offered Eric Bledsoe, two first-round picks, and a pick swap (plus salary filler), then “reluctantly” added George Hill to the offer. The Pelicans countered by asking for one more first-rounder and one more pick swap.

Sources tell ESPN that the Bucks’ decision-makers knew that giving up two rotation players, three first-round picks, and two pick swaps was an overpay, especially since an extension for Holiday may cost in the neighborhood of $30MM per year.

However, the club badly wanted to upgrade its roster and to send a message to Antetokounmpo and decided to pull the trigger. If that deal ultimately helped convince Giannis to sign his super-max extension, the front office presumably feels the cost was worth it.

Here’s more on the Bucks and the Antetokounmpo extension:

  • The report from ESPN’s Windhorst and Arnovitz is worth checking out in full, as it’s packed with interesting nuggets about the process of extending Antetokounmpo. According to the ESPN duo, when the Lakers acquired Dennis Schroder from Oklahoma City, Giannis wanted reassurance that Milwaukee had made a “valiant effort” to land Schroder.
  • As a trio of writers from The Athletic reported on Tuesday, Windhorst and Arnovitz confirm that the Bucks first formally made their extension pitch to Antetokounmpo on December 5. During that meeting, team ownership and management focused on the team’s commitment to building a champion, pointing to its aggressive pursuit of Holiday and its willingness to pay future luxury tax bills, per ESPN.
  • David Aldridge of The Athletic argues that the Antetokounmpo extension is good for the NBA, since it’s hard for fans in non-glamor markets to fully invest in their teams if they believe star players always have one foot out the door.
  • Joe Vardon of The Athletic throws some cold water on the news of Antetokounmpo’s extension, writing that the new deal offers the Bucks a temporary reprieve, but doesn’t guarantee the superstar forward will be with the franchise for the next five years. Jobs will be “on the line” in Milwaukee if the team doesn’t make the NBA Finals and win a title within the next couple years, says Vardon.