Bradley Beal

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 Sportsnet.ca 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.”

Southeast Notes: Fultz, Wizards, Butler, Waiters

Markelle Fultz has been aggressive and productive for the Magic in recent games, Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel writes. Fultz, who is eligible for a rookie scale extension next offseason, has scored in double figures the last four games while recording at least 14 drives in three of his past four games, Parry notes. The increased offensive production from the top pick in the 2017 draft comes at a time when top frontcourt players Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon are nursing ankle sprains. “With a couple of our main guys out, I wanted to get guys going and I knew I had to be aggressive to help us make up those points that we were missing,” Fultz said. “It’s just about me getting into the paint and letting my guys know if they are cutting I’ll find them and also scoring when I have to.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Beyond Bradley Beal, there are no players who are guaranteed crunch time minutes with the Wizards, Kevin Brown of NBC Sports Washington notes. During a close win against Charlotte last week, coach Scott Brooks used three reserves down the stretch. “I think we’re a team that doesn’t worry about rotations,” forward Davis Bertans said. “Whoever has their game going, those guys are going to be in the game and…that’s beneficial for the team and I think that’s everyone agrees with that.”
  • Jimmy Butler was greeted with mostly boos and jeers when the Heat played Philadelphia last week and he was fine with that, Michael Lee of The Athletic relays. Butler chose Miami at the start of free agency and the teams eventually agreed to a multi-team sign-and-trade. “I’m the enemy. I mean, you don’t got to like me ‘cause I’m on the other team. I’m OK with that. I really am,” he said. “They don’t know what’s going on. I love fans. I love my fans. But you don’t know what happened.”
  • Dion Waiters‘ appeal of his 10-game suspension could drag on for quite awhile, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel writes. Waiters was suspended by the Heat for conduct detrimental to the team. Often a compromise is worked out behind the scenes in such cases and the arbitrator’s ruling might happen during the offseason, when all parties are available to participate in the process, Winderman adds.

Wizards Notes: Wagner, Beal, Offense

The Wizards are second in the league in offensive rating and much of their success is a result of the Moritz WagnerDavis Bertans pairing, as I wrote for NBAMath.com.

“It’s fun, fun as hell, excuse my language,” Wagner told Hoops Rumors and other media in attendance of playing within the second unit. “When the ball moves like that … it’s when in doubt, pass it to Davis. It’s ridiculous. It’s obviously a lot of fun, and when you play the game with that type of joy, good things happen to you. You’re locked in defensively, and you’re able to make runs.”

While the bench mob is pacing the league (only the Clippers are scoring more off the bench than the Wizards), it may not be here for long. Scott Brooks has left Bertans and Wagner on the floor to close out games recently, so a move to the starting lineup is possible for one player or both. Additionally, it was recently reported that Bertans may fetch a first-round pick in a trade. Enjoy the high-scoring bench-unit in the nation’s capital while you can.

Here’s more from Washington:

  • A source tells Hoops Rumors that the Wizards contemplated moving up from the No. 44 pick to select Wagner in the 2018 draft. Los Angeles nabbed the big man with the No. 25 pick, though Washington remained admirers from afar and the team was thrilled to acquire him as part of the Anthony Davis deal.
  • Travis Thomas and Quinton Mayo of NBC Sports wonder whether Bradley Beal will finally make an All-NBA team this season (video link). Beal was in the conversation for the honor last season, though missed out on being named to the list.
  • Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington examines past teams that have had as high of a rating on offense (114.6) and defense (116.0) as the Wizards this season and finds that many of the squads have had success. 38 teams in NBA history have finished a season with ratings on both sides of the court above 110, and 24 of them made the postseason.

Southeast Notes: Wiz, Dragic, Young

When it came time to decide whether he would extend his contract in D.C. beyond the 2020/21 season, Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal consulted with a Hall of Fame sharpshooter. As detailed in a piece by Mike DePrisco of NBC Sports Washington, Beal relayed on the Woj Pod with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that he spoke with 10-time All Star Ray Allen about his future.

“He was in Milwaukee and Seattle and those years were rugged,” Beal noted. “They weren’t always great but he was one of the best players and he was always making sure those teams were in the playoffs or making some type of noise.”

The Wizards currently stand at 3-7, the fourth-worst record in the NBA at present. Their 119.6 opponent points scored per game ranks 28th in the league. Since finishing 49-33 in 2016/17 and losing a hotly contested seven-game series to the Celtics, the Wizards have been plagued by injuries, most notably to pricey All-Star point guard John Wall. Wall played just 41 games in 2017/18, and merely 32 last season. He is expected to miss most or all of 2019/20. The team finished with a 32-50 record in 2018/19.

In October, Beal agreed to a two-year, $72MM maximum contract extension that would take him through the 2021/22 season and include a player option for 2022/23 (his age-29 season).

There’s more news and notes from the Southeast:

  • In sunnier Wizards chatter, NBC Sports Washington’s Chase Hughes wonders if center Moritz Wagner could be the team’s latest Laker-castoff steal, a la Thomas Bryant. After spending his rookie season with the Lakers (just like Bryant), Wagner, the 25th pick in 2018 out of Michigan, was flipped to the Wizards in the blockbuster Anthony Davis deal. Wagner, a high-energy floor-stretcher, had what could be a breakout game Wednesday night against Timberwolves All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns. He scored 30 points and 15 rebounds in just 25 bench minutes. Hughes suggests that Wagner, who has limited length for his height and lacks shot-blocking instincts, can still be effective in scrappily fouling players and drawing charges on offense.
  • Point guard Goran Dragic, a 2020 free agent and former All-Star, was talked into a bench role on the surging Heat over a September brunch, according to a new deep dive from The Athletic’s Shandel Richardson. Foregoing mimosas for coffee and eggs, coach Erik Spoelstra pitched Dragic on the role change mid-meal. “He mentioned it to me at brunch and he was saying after that [2018/19 knee] injury he was thinking this was the best way,” Dragic relayed. “I said, ‘Whatever it takes, Coach. I’m going to do whatever you ask of me.’” Dragic, the second-highest paid Heat player, has averaged 16.1 PPG, 5.1 APG, and 3.4 RPG for the 8-3 Heat.
  • The Athletic’s Sam Amick takes an in-depth look at the ascent of Hawks second-year point guard Trae Young in an exclusive interview. The 21-year-old Young is off to a blistering start. Amick discusses the way Young’s on-court achievements will always be connected with the Hawks’ fateful 2018 draft trade with the Mavericks involving Luka Doncic. Young and Amick scroll through a list of Young’s doubters. “I have pictures and stuff like that. Old tweets. Old different sayings and quotes from people who said things when I was coming into the draft, coming into college too,” Young reflected. “It’s stuff I just keep it in my mind. Some of it is mental notes, but at the same time some of it is stuff that I keep and I have my eye on. …But I think that type of stuff motivates you.”

Wizards Notes: Offense, Bertans, Beal, Wall

The Wizards are shooting more three-pointers than ever before, as I recently detailed on NBAMath. In fact, every Wizards’ rotation player is experiencing a career-high in three-pointers shot per game.

Washington is currently 1-4 on the year but the team’s offensive efficiency ranks sixth in the league. That’s an improvement on last season, when the Wizards were league average in the stat. The offseason of change in the nation’s capital has led to improvement on at least one side of the ball. Now, the defense is a story for another day.

Here’s more from Washington:

  • Candace Buckner of The Washington Post examines the Moritz Wagner and Davis Bertans pairing. The duo came to the Wizards in separate trades this offseason.
  • Wizards owner Ted Leonsis insists that Bradley Beal and John Wall have a better relationship than various reports over the years have suggested, as Matt Weyrich of NBC Sports relays. “Brad and John are way closer than the media portrays,” Leonsis said on The Habershow podcast. “They are also deeply immersed in the culture of the NBA and history of the NBA. Having a great backcourt is priority one and why would you want to, if you’re a great player, be a sidekick, if you will. And is that leading to happiness? I mean that’s the amazing thing that you see. You’ve never seen as many unhappy people as you’re seeing in the NBA.”
  • Beal recently signed an extension to stay with the Wizards for two additional years. Leonsis is happy with the new deal and talked about how he couldn’t understand why top players would go somewhere where they are not a top option. “If you get a young player and they’re a part of building your culture and the team, the culture really becomes theirs,” Leonsis said. “That’s the key thing and so if you’re gifted, and you’re gonna get paid in the NBA, why go play and be the third wheel? It’s counter-intuitive to me. Like, it’s LeBron’s team in LA. How’d it go last year? Did anyone look happy in L.A.? So Brad and John and the players here, they’re a part of something and it’s gonna be really, really hard. But [they’re] in it together.”

Bradley Beal Discusses New Contract Extension

Bradley Beal‘s decision to sign a two-year contract extension with the Wizards on Thursday surprised many NBA observers, since Beal could have potentially signed a more lucrative contract in a year or simply chose not to extend his stay with his rebuilding franchise. Speaking to reporters, including David Aldridge of The Athletic, the All-Star shooting guard explained why he opted to sign the new deal, which will lock him up through at least the 2021/22 season.

“I guess legacy at the end of the day,” Beal said. “This is where I’ve been for the last seven years, going on eight. I have an opportunity to be able to turn this thing around. A lot of people doubt that. I view it as a challenge. I view it as something that I feel a lot of D.C. sports have been a part of, rebuilding something and kind of building them into championship-caliber teams. Why not me? Why kind of sell myself short of a great opportunity that I have in my hands right now?”

While the extension is a big win for the Wizards and new general manager Tommy Sheppard, it’s worth noting that Beal only tacked on one guaranteed season to his current deal, so his commitment to the organization isn’t as long-term as it could have been.

One person with knowledge of Beal’s thinking tells Aldridge that the 26-year-old is “giving [Sheppard] a chance now that he’s in charge.” If the Wizards don’t show real progress in the next year or two, it’s still possible that Beal will have second thoughts about whether he wants to remain in D.C. long-term.

Here’s more on Beal’s new deal:

  • Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington hears that Sheppard and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, along with other Wizards executives, flew to Chicago last month to meet with Beal and agent Mark Bartelstein. Beal had the opportunity at that meeting to ask questions about the franchise’s direction. “I just felt comfortable with where we were going,” Beal said. “I talked to Ted and they kind of projected the future and gave me the layout of what we can do in the future.”
  • Fred Katz of The Athletic explores how Beal’s extension affects the Wizards’ rebuilding process, noting that having the two-time All-Star under contract for at least the next three years gives the team some extra security to be patient with its roster moves.
  • Ben Golliver of The Washington Post digs into what the extension means to Sheppard, a first-time general manager who was placed in a tough situation.
  • The Heat were known to be one team that would have serious interest in Beal if the Wizards changed course and decided to trade him, but that will no longer be an option for Miami, at least during the 2019/20 season, as Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel writes.

Bradley Beal Signs Two-Year Extension With Wizards

12:35pm: The extension is official, according to a tweet from the Wizards.

7:42am: The Wizards have reached an agreement on a two-year contract extension for All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. According to Wojnarowski, the deal will be worth just shy of $72MM, the maximum amount the team could offer.

Beal’s current contract pays him approximately $27.1MM in 2019/20 and $28.75MM in 2020/21. His new extension will start at 120% of his ’20/21 salary, which works out to a $34.5MM figure for 2021/22. According to Wojnarowski, Beal’s 2022/23 salary ($37.26MM) will be a player option.

In total, the Wizards’ star will be in line to earn about $127.6MM over the next four years — or he could opt out and hit the free agent market after three seasons, when he’d have 10 years of NBA experience under his belt and would qualify for a maximum salary worth 35% of the cap.

This will allow him to do another deal while he’s potentially in his prime, Beal’s agent Mark Bartelstein said of the extension, per Candace Buckner of The Washington Post (Twitter link).

The Wizards first offered Beal a three-year, $111MM+ contract extension back in July, but the 26-year-old indicated he wanted to take his time and evaluate the team’s direction under its new management group before making any decisions. As Wojnarowski points out, Beal’s decision to re-up with Washington – even on a short-term extension – represents a “spectacular victory” for team owner Ted Leonsis and new general manager Tommy Sheppard.

“Brad has always made it clear to me, that in a perfect world, he would never leave Washington,” Bartelstein told ESPN. “He has felt an obligation to be the focal point in turning the Wizards into an elite team. He’s thrilled about all the resources that Ted is pouring into the franchise and thrilled how committed (Leonsis) and Tommy are to building something special.”

Wojnarowski reported last week that the Wizards were willing to do an extension for Beal “in any form” he wanted, and it appears the team stuck to that promise. Besides being a one-plus-one extension rather than a three-year deal, Beal’s new contract also features as 15% trade kicker and a 50% advance on his 2021/22 and 2022/23 salaries once the extension begins, as Bobby Marks of ESPN details.

Perhaps most importantly, signing this extension will make Beal ineligible to be traded for the 2019/20 season. Contract extensions that exceed the league’s extend-and-trade limits ensure that a player can’t be traded for six months, so by the time Beal becomes eligible to be dealt, the February trade deadline will have passed.

Teams around the NBA had viewed Beal as the most likely star player to become disgruntled and become a trade candidate in the coming months, given the Wizards’ lottery expectations for the ’19/20 campaign. However, Washington insisted throughout the offseason that the former Florida Gator was unavailable. Clubs hoping to make a run at Beal will have to wait until at least the summer of 2020 to try to change the Wizards’ minds.

Beal, who has played all 82 games and made the All-Star team for two consecutive seasons, had a career year for the Wizards in 2018/19, averaging 25.6 PPG, 5.5 APG, and 5.0 RPG with a shooting line of .475/.351/.808. He also played an NBA-high 36.9 minutes per contest.

While Beal may not lead the league in minutes again in 2019/20, he’ll be leaned on heavily once more with star point guard John Wall expected to miss most or all of the season as he recovers from a torn Achilles.

Speaking of Wall, he and Beal both now have guaranteed contracts for the next three years, with player options for 2022/23. In 2021/22 – the final guaranteed season for the star guards – they’ll be earning nearly $79MM combined.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Executives Hesitant To Make A Deal

All seems to be quiet on the trade front throughout the NBA landscape.

There is very little chatter going on among NBA executives, in part because there was so much player movement this summer, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (hat tip to RealGM).

A vast majority of the players who signed contracts this offseason will become trade-eligible no earlier than December 15 and that has contributed to the lack of trade negotiations.

[RELATED: Players who can’t be traded until December 15]

“Right now, from what I understand, there’s almost no trade talks going on,” Windhorst said. “Like nothing. It’s the deadest it has been that executives can remember in years. Most because like a third of the league just signed and there’s just not many trade-eligible guys.”

The only player generating any buzz is Wizards guard Bradley Beal, since many executives around the league believe Washington will eventually decide to move him and go into full rebuild mode.

“There’s definitely Bradley Beal discussions already going on,” according to Windhorst.

However, Beal still has two years left on his contract and the Wizards’ front office is holding out hope it can sign him to an extension.

Woj’s Latest: Beal, CP3, Lowry, Iguodala, Siakam

In a televised preseason special on Thursday night (audio link), ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe identified Bradley Beal as a player worth watching closely this season. Beal looks like the most obvious candidate of the NBA’s stars to become disgruntled and push for a trade during the 2019/20 season. However, as Wojnarowski notes, that hasn’t happened yet, and the Wizards are still all-in on trying to retain their All-Star guard.

“Bradley Beal’s got two years left on his deal and the Wizards have not given up hope of signing him to an extension,” Wojnarowski said. “They’ve had a three-year, $111MM-or-so extension on the table for him to take in any form. Does he want two years, three years? Any form he wants, it is there waiting for him. So they are nowhere near the idea of moving Bradley Beal. They want to continue to try to rebuild around him.”

[RELATED: Why Bradley Beal won’t immediately accept Wizards’ extension offer]

As Woj and Lowe point out, a weak 2020 free agent class would make Beal an especially valuable trade chip if the Wizards’ stance changes, but there’s no indication that will happen anytime soon.

“Bradley Beal, if he got on the market, would bring back an absolute ransom because if you want to improve your team in a dramatic way, he’d be the guy,” Woj said. “But Washington’s not doing that. They still want to re-sign him.”

Here are a few more highlights from ESPN’s special featuring two of the network’s top basketball reporters:

  • The Thunder‘s plan when they acquired Chris Paul from Houston was to flip him to another team, according to Wojnarowski, who says OKC had hoped the Heat would be more open to making a deal. “He’s going to have to play really well in Oklahoma City for somebody to want to take on three years, $124MM [and] pay him $44MM in the final year of his contract,” Woj said of CP3. “That’s a really difficult proposition. … He has value in the league, but not at those numbers.”
  • Woj and Lowe think Raptors guard Kyle Lowry would generate a lot of interest on the trade market if Toronto becomes open to moving him. Both ESPN experts believe that Lowry’s one-year, $31MM extension actually makes him more appealing as a trade chip, since he wouldn’t be just a half-season rental. Lowe speculates that teams like the Heat, Pistons, and Clippers might have interest, while Woj singles out the Timberwolves as another potential fit.
  • According to Wojnarowski, both the Grizzlies and Andre Iguodala are willing to be patient when it comes to a potential trade or buyout. Woj likens Iguodala to MLB pitcher Roger Clemens, who often signed late in the season during the final few years of his career. “Iguodala’s fine with seeing what the landscape looks like and then jumping in on the season a little later,” Woj said. “Because you’re signing Andre Iguodala – or trading for him – for the postseason.” Woj added that the Lakers and Clippers would be the favorites to land the former Finals MVP if he’s bought out.
  • In a discussion on this year’s extension candidates (video link), Wojnarowski suggests that Raptors forward Pascal Siakam would be a lock for a maximum-salary offer sheet if he reaches restricted free agency next summer. Woj believes Kings sharpshooter Buddy Hield would get a similar offer and that Jaylen Brown (Celtics) and Domantas Sabonis (Pacers) would do very well too, given the lack of veteran stars expected to hit the free agent market.