Bradley Beal

Wizards Notes: Beal, Wall, McRae, Sheppard

The Wizards need to figure out the source of Bradley Beal‘s frustration and address it right away, writes David Aldridge of The Athletic. Beal lashed out at the team’s “culture” after a tough loss Wednesday in Chicago and said he was frustrated to keep seeing “winnable games” slip away. A source tells Aldridge it was the angriest he has seen Beal since he came to Washington in 2012.

Aldridge notes that the organization went through a major culture change during the offseason, possibly sparked by a similar tirade from Beal last year. Tommy Sheppard replaced Ernie Grunfeld as general manager and upgraded the Wizards’ development staff and pro personnel office. The team now values analytics and second-round draft picks and has a direct relationship with its G League affiliate.

With those changes in place, Aldridge suggests that Beal is now upset about the culture inside the locker room, specifically a lax approach to defense. Whatever the issue is, Aldridge notes that Beal has plenty of close friends around the league who would love to play alongside him. He signed a two-year extension in October, but could start looking for a way out if things don’t improve next season.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • John Wall participated in a “controlled” four-on-four scrimmage with teammates at today’s practice, tweets Fred Katz of The Athletic. It’s a step up for Wall, who had been playing four-on-four with the player development staff. He has also taken part in three-on-two and two-on-one drills with other Wizards players, said coach Scott Brooks (Twitter link), who added that he still isn’t sure if Wall will try to return this season.
  • Jordan McRae‘s ankle injury appears less serious than the Wizards originally feared, Katz adds (Twitter link). McRae was in a walking boot after Friday’s game, but he was able to practice today as a limited participant.
  • Sheppard is restoring fans’ faith in the front office with a series of successful moves, observes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. First-round pick Rui Hachimura looked like a solid NBA player before his injury, while Davis Bertans, Moritz Wagner and Isaac Bonga were all acquired for virtually nothing in return. Sheppard also opted to sign Ish Smith instead of giving a big contract to Tomas Satoransky, and has gotten good production from Garrison MathewsAnzejs Pasecniks and Gary Payton II.

Scott Brooks Responds To Beal’s ‘Culture’ Comments

Wizards star Bradley Beal recently called out Washington’s team culture as the organization’s struggles continued with a tough loss to the Bulls on Wednesday. Given the team’s record, Beal addressed whether or not losing builds up frustration.

“I would hope it does,” Beal said. “I don’t like losing so it’s going to keep blowing up for me… Until we start winning and changing our culture.” 

Despite the Wizards’ 13-28 record, Washington has been a fun team to watch this season and Beal — who signed a two-year extension last October — did so aware that 2019/20 would be a challenging season.

While a lack of winning can be conducive to frustration, Washington head coach Scott Brooks praised the direction in which the team is headed, per Candace Buckner of The Washington Post (Twitter link).

“I think with changing our culture, we have,” he said. “And we’ve done that. Sometimes wins and losses are part of every team’s culture. You can’t have a bunch of good guys that play hard for three straight years and not win because eventually a lot of people are no longer there. So, winning is part of the culture but right now we’re not doing that at the high level we want to do it at but we’re not going to run from it…”

In the first year of his extension, Beal has enjoyed his best individual season to date. Through 34 games, he’s averaging a career-best 27.2 PPG and 6.4 APG. Despite Beal’s frustration after Wednesday’s loss, Brooks believes the All-Star guard is a key part of the team’s present and future.

“Eventually, it’s going to pay off. I believe that. I like what we’re doing and Brad likes what we’re doing,” Brooks added. “Was he frustrated? Yeah. [But] you talk to him the next day, he feels totally different. He’s part of our culture and he’s a big part of it. When you lose everybody feels bad about it and that’s a good thing.”

Southeast Notes: Beal, Wizards, Heat, Hawks, Magic

Following a tough loss to the Bulls on Wednesday night, Wizards star Bradley Beal voiced concern about his team’s culture, as Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington relays. After telling reporters that he was frustrated about losing “winnable games,” Beal was asked if that losing builds up.

“I would hope it does,” Beal said. “I don’t like losing so it’s going to keep blowing up for me… Until we start winning and changing our culture.” Asked what a changed culture would like, the Wizards guard replied: Winning games. Get that winning attitude and winning habits.”

As Hughes notes in a separate article, the timing of Beal’s comments is interesting, since the 26-year-old signed an extension in the offseason despite recognizing it would be a challenging season for the Wizards. The team has been fun to watch and certainly hasn’t fallen short of preseason expectations, so Beal’s comments are a little surprising.

Pointing out that Beal recently co-signed a J.J. Redick complaint about some NBA players prioritizing fashion and social media over winning, Hughes wonders if that was just coincidental timing or if the Wizards’ star is frustrated by some of his teammates’ behavior.

David Aldridge of The Athletic, who heard from a source that Beal seemed as angry and emotional after Wednesday’s loss as he’s been since joining the Wizards, noted that Washington’s defense has been “spectacularly bad” this season and speculated that the team’s effort on that end of the floor may be a source of frustration for the All-Star.

As we wait to see how Washington responds to Beal’s concerns, here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald suggests that preserving 2021 cap room isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker for the Heat if they find a trade they like, since the team believes it can acquire star free agents even without cap space, as it did last summer with Jimmy Butler.
  • Within the same article, Jackson also explores several trade options for the Heat, citing one source who says the team will likely be in touch with San Antonio. The Spurs haven’t given any indication they want to move LaMarcus Aldridge or DeMar DeRozan, but would consider Miami a potential trade partner if they do consider dealing either veteran star, says Jackson.
  • Count Trae Young among those who like the Hawkstrade for Jeff Teague. According to Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Young referred to Teague as “one of the underrated point guards in our league” and praised the veteran’s ability to score, draw fouls, and get teammates involved.
  • With Michael Carter-Williams still battling a shoulder injury and fellow point guard D.J. Augustin out for at least the next three or four weeks with a knee issue, Magic head coach Steve Clifford said he’d speak to president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman about whether or not the team will make a roster move, per Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Orlando has a full 15-man roster, but Gary Clark is on a 10-day contract.

Thomas Bryant, Bradley Beal Back For Wizards

Center Thomas Bryant will be returning to game action for the Wizards this afternoon against the Jazz, according to The Athletic’s Fred Katz (Twitter link).

Bryant, who had started all of his previous games for Washington this season, will be coming off the bench in his first NBA game since December 1, according to Hoops Rumors’ Chris Crouse (Twitter link). Crouse notes that Wizards All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal, who has missed his team’s last five games, will return as well.

Before the 22-year-old Bryant suffered a right foot stress reaction in December, he had been enjoying his best season as a pro. The No. 42 pick in 2017, Bryant logged just 15 games for the Lakers in the 2017/18 season. Los Angeles waived Bryant in 2018.

In 2018/19, the Wizards took a flyer on Bryant, and he blossomed in his sophomore season following the injury flameout of nominal starting center Dwight Howard, who missed all but nine games in DC. Bryant averaged 10.5 PPG and 6.3 RPG for the Wizards during his age-21 season, convincing the Wizards to re-sign him this past summer to a three-year, $25MM contract.

Bryant is averaging career highs of 13.9 PPG, 8.5 RPG, and 2.7 APG in 28.4 MPG across Washington’s newly sped-up offense. The Wizards sport the third-fastest offense in the NBA.

Beal, who signed a two-year, $72MM extension with the Wizards this fall that will pay him through the 2022/23 season, had been enjoying a career year for Washington, too. He is averaging career highs of 27.8 PPG, 6.6 APG, and shooting 83.1% from the free-throw line. Beal is also averaging 4.8 RPG.

Southeast Notes: Beal, Payton, Gordon, Rozier

Now that Bradley Beal‘s consecutive games streak has ended at 194, Fred Katz of the Athletic wonders if it’s time to consider load management for the Wizards star. Beal missed Saturday’s game with “right lower leg soreness,” which isn’t believed to be a long-term concern. In deference to the streak, coach Scott Brooks refused to keep Beal out of the lineup last season even after Washington dropped out of the playoff race, but he may consider a different approach now.

At 9-22 and with a host of injured players, the Wizards seem like a sure bet for another lottery appearance. Management has already said player development is the focus for this season, particularly with John Wall still recovering from a ruptured Achilles. Beal led the league in minutes played last year and ranks third this season. He is a strong opponent of load management, but it makes little sense to keep putting him on the court every night if it heightens his risk of injury.

“He’s as durable as anybody in the league,” Brooks said. “He’s played just about every game the last three and a half years and good minutes. He wants to play. He wants to practice. That’s great. That’s who he is. I’m sure this is gonna bother him, not being on the court with the guys knowing how banged up we are.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Gary Payton II, who signed with the Wizards this week under the hardship exception, is making a strong bid to stay on the roster, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. He is posting an 11.7/7.3/4.0 line through three games and has twice recorded six steals. Washington would have to release someone to make room for Payton, and a decision must be made by January 7 when players who aren’t waived will have their contracts guaranteed for the rest of the season.
  • Magic forward Aaron Gordon admitted last night that his left Achilles tendon has been bothering him for “a while,” tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic. “I feel like I might’ve been playing on it a little too long already,” Gordon said. “So now’s the time I’ve got to get it taken care of just so I get healthy and get back and help my team because it’s not something you want to play (around) with.” (Twitter link)
  • The NBA has fined Hornets guard Terry Rozier $25K for throwing the ball into the stands at the end of Friday’s loss to the Thunder.

Injuries Continue Piling Up For Wizards

The injury situation continues to get worse in Washington and there’s little sign of relief. The short-handed Wizards received permission to sign two hardship players this week, adding Gary Payton II and Johnathan Williams, and both were in the starting lineup for tonight’s game with the Knicks.

The latest Wizard on the shelf is leading scorer Bradley Beal, whose consecutive games streak has ended at 194. Beal is dealing with “right lower leg soreness,” tweets Candace Bucker of The Washington Post, who adds that the schedule factored into the decision to keep him out of action tonight. Beal will get a three-day rest before the team begins a stretch of eight games in 14 days. He left Thursday’s game against the Pistons in the third quarter, but an MRI showed no significant damage to the leg.

Coach Scott Brooks provided pre-game updates on Davis Bertans, who is sidelined with a quad injury, and Moritz Wagner, who is dealing with a sprained left ankle, relays Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter link). Brooks said it will be “probably a good week” before Bertans can return, while Wagner remains in a walking boot and hasn’t practiced since suffering the injury nearly three weeks ago. Brooks said it’s “for sure gonna take him some time” before Wagner is ready to play again.

Brooks also expects Rui Hachimura will need at least another week to recover from a groin injury, tweets Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Brooks said the rookie forward is “still sore,” adding, “I anticipate he won’t play next week.” That means he’ll be sidelined at least another three to five games.

Hardship exceptions can be granted to teams with at least four players who have missed three or more games due to injury or illness and are expected to miss at least two more weeks. The Wizards originally qualified because of John WallC.J. MilesThomas Bryant and Jordan McRae, although McRae played Thursday and Bryant appears close to returning.

Southeast Notes: Beal, Bryant, Washington, Martin

The Wizards may play it safe with regards to Bradley Beal‘s injury, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports writes. Beal left Thursday’s contest against the Pistons with lower right leg soreness and while it doesn’t sound like it will be a debilitating injury, it makes sense for the 9-21 Wizards to be as cautious as possible with their franchise star.

Beal is questionable for Saturday’s contest vs. the Knicks. Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Thomas Bryant said he doesn’t have an exact return date, but he is “very, very close” to returning, The Athletic’s Fred Katz tweets. Bryant practiced with the Wizards today and will practice with the Capital City Go-Go on Saturday.
  • Isaiah Thomas said he apologized to a lot of people in the Wizards organization for the incident with fans in Philadelphia, including owner Ted Leonsis, Hughes tweets. Thomas served a two-game suspension for the incident.
  • It sounds like PJ Washington will make his way back into the lineup for the Hornets, as Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. The rookie has missed the past few weeks with a broken finger.
  • In a separate piece, Bonnell details how Cody Martin has been exceeding expectations for the Hornets. Charlotte selected the small forward with the No. 36 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
  • Coach Steve Clifford said Al-Farouq Aminu had a “setback” this week in his recovery from a knee injury, John Denton of tweets. The Magic signed Aminu to a three-year deal this offseason.

Knicks Monitoring Karl-Anthony Towns’ Situation

Yes, we’ve heard this before: the Knicks are planning to make a big splash by trading for or signing a star. In the latest edition of this Groundhog-Day-like news cycle (it’s Christmas so perhaps, we should use 12 Dates of Christmas as a reference), New York continues to have hopes of using its cap flexibility and assets to turn itself into a contender.

Marc Berman of the New York Post reports that the Knicks’ current “dream scenario” is to trade for a disgruntled superstarm and the franchise is expected to monitor Karl-Anthony Towns‘ situation. Towns, who signed a five-year, $190MM extension prior to the 2018/19 season, is from Metuchen, New Jersey, and the team has hopes that he would be open to playing for the Knicks should the Wolves ever consider trading him.

Berman writes that Bradley Beal remains on the Knicks’ radar. However, a source tells Hoops Rumors that the Wizards still aren’t entertaining trade offers for the shooting guard, who is ineligible to be moved until the 2020 offseason anyway.

New York has the assets to put together a pretty compelling package for any star that becomes available. In addition to their own picks, the Knicks have two future firsts from the Mavericks as well as several young prospects. The franchise could have more long-term assets if it makes future-looking trades at the deadline, such as moving Marcus Morris.

Trading for a star appears to be the Knicks’ best chance at landing a one and with the Timberwolves dwelling in the cellar of the Western Conference, it’s fair to wonder whether Towns and Minnesota would each welcome a deal. Still, any deal for Towns appears to be far away, as the Wolves have given every indication that they are not open to trading their franchise center.

Eastern Notes: George, Pacers, Ujiri, Heat, Beal, Love

It has been nearly two-and-a-half years since Paul George was traded by the Pacers to the Thunder, but fans in Indiana still booed George – now on Clipper – on Monday whenever he touched the ball, as if this was his first game back, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. George, who said he wasn’t surprised by being booed, also hinted that the full story of his departure from Indiana still hasn’t come out.

“You know, someday I’ll do a tell-all and tell the leading events of how I left Indiana,” George said. “And I promise you, I’m not the one to boo.

“… I’m not gonna share the teaser,” George later said. “… I like being the villain. I’m here two nights out of the year. The people they should boo is here a lot longer than I am.”

The George trade was one of the first major moves made by Kevin Pritchard, who became Indiana’s head of basketball operations during the spring of 2017. While George implied on Monday that the Pacers franchise may be partially to blame for the circumstances surrounding that trade, he declined to criticize Pritchard, as Youngmisuk notes.

“I’m not going to bad-mouth KP,” George said when told that Pritchard said George’s trade request felt like a punch in the gut. “That’s just Kevin’s side of the story.”

Here’s more from around the East:

  • Howard Beck of Bleacher Report recently reported that Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri turned down a lucrative extension offer, but Michael Grange of hears from sources that the offer didn’t happen. Still, Grange wouldn’t be surprised if Ujiri is interested in testing the “free agent” market at some point, and believes the Knicks could be a real threat to lure him away from Toronto.
  • The Heat would have had serious interest in Bradley Beal if the Wizards had made him available in trade talks or if he had reached free agency in 2021. Instead, Beal re-upped with Washington, signing a two-year extension earlier this year. Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald caught up with Beal to ask the Wizards’ star whether he considered the possibility of a move to the Heat before inking that new deal. Beal’s answer? “Yes and no.” Jackson has the full story and quotes.
  • Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald explains why the Celtics shouldn’t be viewed as a potential suitor for Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, who is reportedly on the trade block.

Wizards Notes: Howard, Miles, Beal

After injuries wiped out nearly all of his 2018/19 season, Dwight Howard made promises to new Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard that he never got a chance to fulfill, writes Fred Katz of The Athletic. Howard suffered a back injury before training camp and played just nine games last year. Entering the second season of his two-year contract, Howard vowed to Sheppard that things were going to be different.

“I told Tommy I was gonna lose 30 pounds and come back in the best shape of my life and we were gonna have a shot at winning a championship,” Howard said. “That was my goal all summer, to lose weight and come back better than ever.”

Howard delivered on his promises, but not in D.C. He was traded to Memphis in July to create more minutes for centers Thomas Bryant, who re-signed this summer, and Moritz Wagner, who was acquired in a trade. Howard reached a buyout with the Grizzlies and accepted a non-guaranteed offer from the Lakers. It marked his second straight summer with a buyout arrangement and his seventh team in the past five years, but he’s grateful for the chance to rebuild his reputation.

“A lot of times, you gotta outlive the lie,” he said. “I’ve been lied on for many years about who I am as a player, person, my character. So, I just wanted to get into good shape. If I say something, I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna be that way, and (that’s) not gonna change.”

There’s more Wizards news to pass along:

  • The team is holding out hope that C.J. Miles won’t need surgery for his injured left wrist, relays Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. Miles damaged ligaments while taking a charge in Tuesday’s game and can’t visit a specialist until Monday when the Wizards are back from their current road trip. An operation would sideline him for about four months and likely end his season. “Right now, they’re talking to the doctors, talking to C.J. as well and our staff and have a game plan, I’m sure, the next couple of days,” coach Scott Brooks said.
  • Bradley Beal doesn’t regret his decision to accept a two-year extension, even though Washington is off to a poor start at 6-11, according to Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. Beal could have turned down the offer and possibly paved the way for a trade to a contender, but he opted to commit to the organization through at least 2021/22. “It’s easy for people in all walks of life to see the grass as greener on the other side and not to see and appreciate your current environment,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “And I do admire that in Bradley.”
  • Beal blamed weight gain over the past two seasons on Couvade Syndrome, also known as “sympathetic pregnancy,” writes Quinton Mayo of NBC Sports Washington. Beal’s partner has delivered two children in the past two years. “I gained about 12-15 pounds,” he said. “Coach Brooks used to make fun of me and say my uniform was fitting a little tighter, and not in a good way. I was up at 3, 4 o’clock in the morning eating ice cream when I shouldn’t have been eating ice cream. That’s all because momma was pregnant and I had the exact same symptoms. I was craving stuff that I never had the desire to eat before.”