Appearing on the No Chill with Gilbert Arenas podcast, Wizards star Bradley Beal was asked by Arenas’ co-host Josiah Johnson about why he decided to sign a long-term contract to remain in D.C. this past summer. Beal responded by explaining that he appreciates the influence he has earned within the organization and believes in the talent on the roster.
“Not everybody gives you a voice in the organization. I have a voice here,” Beal said (hat tip to Paul Terrazzano Jr. of TalkBasket). “I never had a chance to fully play a year with (Kristaps Porzingis). That enticed me. He’s probably the best big I’ve played with. I like (Kyle Kuzma)’s ability to be able to spread his wings a little bit more, develop into the player that we think he can be. And then I think I like the young core that we were developing. Rui (Hachimura) is really good, had an awesome summer. Deni (Avdija)‘s just gonna continue to get better. And then Corey (Kispert)‘s a knockdown shooter, who is a pro’s pro.
“We still need to get better. I’m not sitting here saying, ‘We’re gonna hold up the Larry (O’Brien trophy). We’re going to beat Milwaukee (in the playoffs) tomorrow.’ No. But to have the pieces we have, we have enough to know that we can compete on a nightly basis with no BS. We know that we got a job, everybody’s able to be a star in their role, and we can go do that.”
It would have been hard for Beal to turn down the Wizards’ five-year, $251MM+ offer, which included a no-trade clause, in any scenario. But the star guard admitted that he didn’t actually have a ton of viable alternatives on the free agent market, alluding to the fact that many contending teams were in the tax, or at least well over the cap. The teams operating with cap space this summer were virtually all retooling or rebuilding clubs.
“On the flip side of it, the business side of it. There were no teams in the market, free agency-wise. I’m just being frank,” Beal said. “There was nowhere else for me to go where I can be like, ‘Oh, I can go win.’ It was teams that strategically wasn’t what I wanted. So realistically, I won’t say my hand was forced, but this was my best decision and best option on the table at the time.”
Here’s more on the Wizards:
- While you could gripe about some of his poorly timed late-game turnovers, Beal is otherwise off to a strong start in the first season of his mega-deal, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. As Hughes observes, Beal’s current streak of 11 consecutive 20-point games is already better than any run he had last season, and his shooting percentages (.520 FG%, .352 3PT%) have rebounded in a major way after a down year in 2021/22 (.451 FG%, .300 3PT%).
- As Hughes notes in another story for NBC Sports Washington, Unseld used centers Kristaps Porzingis and Daniel Gafford together in the frontcourt on Friday for the first time all season. The move, an attempt to counter the impact that Charlotte’s duo of Mason Plumlee and Nick Richards was having on the boards and in the paint, was a success, with the Wizards outscoring the Hornets by 18 points during Porzingis’ and Gafford’s 12 minutes together. According to Hughes, the combination looks like an “in case of emergency” option for Unseld, but it could be worth trying more, given its effectiveness on Friday.
- Head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said on Friday that there’s no real timeline for Rui Hachimura‘s return from a bone bruise in his right ankle, referring to the fourth-year forward as “week-to-week,” according to Ava Wallace of The Washington Post (Twitter link). Hachimura has missed the Wizards’ last seven games.