Rui Hachimura

Wizards Notes: Beal, Grant, Hachimura, Go-Go

Wizards guard Bradley Beal still hasn’t finalized a decision on whether or not he’ll participate in the NBA’s restart, but head coach Scott Brooks said today that Beal is expected to join the club on its flight to Florida this week, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN writes.

Beal said last week that he remains undecided about whether he’ll play this summer, expressing some concerns about the shortened ramp-up period and the possible injury risk. Brooks, who said there’s no specific timeline for Beal’s decision, said today that his All-Star guard is looking “great” in workouts.

“His physical condition has been pretty good and continues to improve every day along with our other guys,” Brooks said, per Youngmisuk. “We are all getting tested every day and as of right now he’s a go and we are all going down there ready to compete and get better and play to get in a playoff position. He looks great.”

The Wizards, who are 5.5 games out of the last playoff spot in the East, will be without All-Star point guard John Wall and sharpshooter Davis Bertans during the restart — Wall continues to rehab his Achilles injury, while Bertans opted out due to his impending free agency and his ACL injury history.

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • Jerian Grant, who replaced Bertans on the Wizards’ summer roster as a substitute player, called it a “dream come true” to join his hometown team, as Jackson Filyo of WashingtonWizards.com details. Grant, who grew up in the D.C. area, worked as a ball boy for the franchise as a kid, and his father Harvey Grant played for the then-Bullets from 1988-93.
  • Rui Hachimura, who would be preparing to represent Japan in the Tokyo Olympics this summer if not for the coronavirus, remains hopeful that he’ll be able to play for his home country in 2021, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “I’m honestly so sad about it. We can’t do anything about it,” Hachimura said of the postponement, adding that he has been looking forward to the event for years. “Of course, I would like to play in the Olympics. Next year, we’ll see how things go.”
  • Pops Mensah-Bonsu, the general manager of the Capital City Go-Go, won’t return to the Wizards’ G League affiliate for the 2020/21 season, according to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. “I wanted to pursue some other things at this moment in time,” Mensah-Bonsu said. The remainder of the 2019/20 NBAGL season was canceled and it’s unclear when next season will start — that uncertainty played a part in Mensah-Bonsu’s decision, per Buckner.

Wizards Notes: Draft, Avdiji, Hachimura, Giles

Deni Avdija, who is expected to go in the top 10 of the NBA draft, plays the style of basketball that the Wizards like, as Chase Hughes of NBC Sports details. His versatility and passing skills would fit well in Washington’s system, though his lack of shooting and rebounding may force the franchise to look at other options in the draft.

Here’s more from Washington:

  • The Wizards may see Rui Hachimura as their best young prospect on the roster, but former NBA executive John Hollinger believes that distinction goes to Troy Brown, as he explains on The Athletic. Brown, who is nearly 18 months younger than Hachimura, has play-making skills and Hollinger is curious why the young team didn’t feature the 20-year-old more often.
  • Washington is hoping that Hachimura can improve on defense and be the team’s go-to defender for larger wings, Hollinger passes along in the same piece.
  • The Wizards were terrible on the defensive end in 2019/20, but the franchise is hoping to acquire a rim protector this summer. Hollinger notes that either Thomas Bryant or Moritz Wagner could find themselves on another team as a result of Washington’s pursuit of a big.
  • Harry Giles is a name to watch for the Wizards’ mid-level exception, Hollinger relays in the same piece. JaVale McGee is another name worth monitoring, though the former executive cautions that it may not be feasible for the Wizards to use all of their mid-level, as they don’t want to enter the tax.

Rui Hachimura Talks Beal’s Mentorship, Carmelo’s Influence On His Game

The atmosphere in Washington this past season fostered growth. Veterans assisted young players on and off the court and rookie Rui Hachimura was recently asked which player on the Wizards was the best mentor for him. The rookie singled out Bradley Beal, as I relayed on Heavy.com.

“There’s a lot, but obviously Brad is a guy I’m always looking at,” Hachimura said. “I talk to him about basketball and off the court, everything. He’s a great leader of the team. I think it’s good to see, even at practice, I can watch him and how hard he works…He’s not much of a talking guy. He shows. Whatever he’s doing, I can see…He’s the guy I always look at.” 

Hachimura was also asked about which player inspired his game when he first got into basketball.

“I watched a lot of Carmelo Anthony,” Hachimura said. “He was my guy when I started playing basketball. I watched his footsteps and his pull-up shot. That why I think I have a pull-up now, because I watched him a lot. He’s obviously a big guy, 6’8” and a power forward or small forward. I watched him a lot when I was a kid…He was one of the (hardest players to guard all season).” 

Hachimura added that he isn’t letting this time off go to waste, just as he didn’t when he missed 23 games with a groin injury early in the season. As he did then, the first-year forward is using his time off the court to watch film in order to grow as a player.

Wizards Notes: Sheppard, Beal, Hachimura, Bertans

The Wizards may be in position to gamble in this year’s draft, general manager Tommy Sheppard said in a Q&A session on the team’s Twitter account (hat tip to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington). Last year, Washington used its first pick on Rui Hachimura, who was ready to contribute right away, but Sheppard believes the team can now consider long-term prospects.

“I think when you look at our roster and you see eight players 23 or younger, we can probably take a swing at somebody and they’re not going to have to help us immediately next year. If that player is there, certainly we do that,” Sheppard said.

The Wizards will start their draft process Monday by interviewing college seniors and international prospects. Everything will be different this year because of coronavirus restrictions, which means chatting remotely with potential picks and no in-person workouts. However, Sheppard doesn’t put great value on those individual sessions as the team didn’t work out Hachimura before last year’s draft.

“Workouts are important, but these players have played all season,” Sheppard said. “If we’re going to decide whether to take a player based on one workout, we’re in a lot of trouble. We’ve done our homework.”

There’s more from Washington:

  • Appearing on The Lowe Post podcast with ESPN’s Zach Lowe, Bradley Beal said he considered a lot of positives and negatives before agreeing to a two-year extension last fall. “Ultimately, I felt staying, the positives outweighed leaving,” Beal explained. “The reason being is because I had more control here. I have an organization who basically gave me the keys. We’re gonna build around you, we’re gonna get guys around. If I go anywhere else, granted, it may be a good team, but I would be a piece. Who knows if my role would be the same? My role here, I love what it is.”
  • Beal admits he was among those who laughed on draft night when ESPN’s Chauncey Billups compared Hachimura to Kawhi Leonard, but Beal has become a huge supporter of his rookie teammate. “He’s not Kawhi, but he plays like him,” Beal said. “He has a high ceiling. He’s not really a four. We can really make him into a three. We can make him into a playmaker. He can post up smaller guys. He can guard bigger guys. He’s very versatile in a lot of ways. I love him. He’s a workhorse. I don’t know who he’s really comparable to, because his ceiling’s that high.”
  • Fred Katz of The Athletic examines how expected changes to the salary cap will affect Washington’s chances of re-signing Davis Bertans. The Wizards will have to keep Bertans’ $13.3MM cap hold on their books to retain his Bird rights, so they are expected to operate as an over-the-cap team when the offseason arrives.

Wizards Notes: Embiid, Beal, Hachimura

If the Sixers make Joel Embiid available this offseason, the Wizards would be among the best-positioned teams to trade for the big man, as I explain on Heavy.com. If Philadelphia is looking for the best NBA player available to them—one whose shooting would fit in next to Ben Simmons—the franchise should look no further than Bradley Beal.

Like the Simmons-Embiid pairing, the John Wall-Beal duo isn’t without its warts. Wall, who has three years and over $132M left on his contract after this season, isn’t likely to be dealt due to the size of his deal. As great as Beal has been for the franchise this year (he should have been an All-Star), netting a talent like Embiid would be a good deal for the Wizards.

Here’s more from Washington:

  • Former teammate Tomas Satoransky, who inked a three-year, $30MM deal with Chicago during the offseason, has guarded Beal on various occasions this season. He said it is “not the nicest experience,” as he tells Hoops Rumors. “He is just so athletic with it and he elevates when he shoots so high, so all you can do is contest it as best as you can and hope that he is going to miss,” Satoransky said.
  • Coach Scott Brooks would rather the Wizards make the playoffs than land in the lottery and have a chance at a better prospect in the draft, as he tells Chase Hughes of NBC Sports relays. “Developing is creating winning habits,” he said. “Definitely winning is important. You don’t want to just keep developing and not have anything to show for it. We all want to win and that’s the mentality that we have to have… The small details, they’re important. You don’t just start picking up the small details once you have a good team.”
  • Rui Hachimura and Moritz Wagner each missed significant time this year with various injuries, but both have bounced back nicely, Hughes writes in a separate piece. Hachimura missed 23 games with a groin injury and Wagner sat out 25 games with a left ankle sprain.

Wizards Notes: Beal, Wall, Bonga, Hachimura

Bradley Beal still believes he belongs on the All-Star team, but said he’s focused on other things as he addressed reporters last night, including Chase Hughes of NBC Sports. Beal seemed like a glaring omission when the All-Star reserves were announced Thursday. He’s tied for fifth in the league in scoring at 28.8 PPG and has the injury-plagued Wizards on the edge of the playoff race.

“It doesn’t make me or break me. It doesn’t define me as a player,” Beal said of the All-Star snub. “The one thing I won’t do is disrespect anybody that made it. Everybody that made it is deserving of it. I’m past it.”

He also expressed appreciation to all the analysts who have spoken up on his behalf since the rosters were revealed. Beal is the first player scoring more than 28 points per game to be left off the All-Star team since 1985.

“At the end of the day, I’m not about to sit here with this sad cloud over my head like why I should be in. All of my peers come up to me after every game and say it. Coaches say it,” Beal said. “I just wish we had this same mindset three or four years ago when I got snubbed and we had the fourth seed.”

There’s more Wizards news to pass along:

  • During warmups before Saturday’s game, John Wall may have sent a message that he plans to return before the end of the season, writes Mike DePrisco of NBC Sports. In a video tweeted by Hoop District, Wall sinks a turnaround jumper over an assistant coach and tells a group of fans, “Don’t worry, y’all get to see this soon.” Wall has been making progress in his recovery from a ruptured left Achilles tendon.
  • As the Wizards get healthier, some fill-ins are going lose playing time, but coach Scott Brooks said Saturday that he plans to keep Isaac Bonga in the rotation. The second-year swingman has started 29 games in his first season in Washington.
  • Rui Hachimura wasn’t used last night, but the Wizards remain optimistic that he will return soon, tweets Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. The rookie forward hasn’t played since suffering a groin injury December 16, and Brooks said he still has to shake off some rust.

Southeast Notes: Hachimura, Wagner, Len, Bertans

Wizards rookie forward Rui Hachimura is close to returning from the groin injury that he suffered on December 16, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington relays. Hachimura required a surgical procedure after getting accidentally kicked by teammate, Isaac Bonga. He is officially listed as questionable to play on Saturday. “Rui has a great chance of coming back (tomorrow) night,” head coach Scott Brooks said. Hachimura will play no more than 20 minutes if he suits up on Saturday, The Athletic’s Fred Katz tweets.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Second-year Wizards power forward Moritz Wagner is expected to return sometime next week from an ankle injury that has sidelined him since December 10, Hughes writes in another piece. Wagner and Hachimura were both selected to the Rising Stars game on Friday. “We already said we’re not going to pass the ball. It’s a two-man game only. A lot of Wizards buckets,” Wagner joked to Hughes.
  • Hawks center Alex Len, who was injured a week ago, will miss at least another 7-10 days, Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal Constitution tweets. Len, an unrestricted free agent this summer, is dealing with a right hip flexor strain.
  • The Wizards could expect to get a first-round pick and another player if they deal forward Davis Bertans, according to Hughes. It’s unlikely any collection of second-round picks would get the deal done, Hughes adds. The sharpshooting forward has an expiring $7MM contract.

Doncic, Young, Zion Headline Rising Stars Rosters

The NBA has officially announced the 20 rookies and sophomores who have been named to the league’s Rising Stars game for All-Star weekend. Those 20 players, selected by assistant coaches from around the league, will be divided into a U.S. Team and a World Team, as follows:

U.S. Team:

World Team:

Williamson’s inclusion is notable since he has appeared in just four games due to injuries. It’s not surprising that the NBA found a way to get him into the game, since he’s one of the most exciting prospects to enter the league in years, but it’s a tough break for youngsters who have been on the court since the fall for contenders, such as Sixers wing Matisse Thybulle. or Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr.

Snubbed players like Thybulle, Porter, and others could eventually make their way into the Rising Stars game if players have to pull out due to injuries, or if All-Stars like Doncic and Young opt not to play in both events.

The Rising Stars game will take place in Chicago on Friday, February 14.

Wizards Notes: Grant, Trades, Hachimura

The Wizards are in position to make some moves at the deadline, and if that happens the team could call up a few of its G League players. Shane Connuck of Wizards Xtra breaks down which players could get an opportunity with Washington, including Jerian Grant, who has been with the Go-Go for most of the season.

Here’s more from Washington:

  • The Wizards have made a trade leading up to trade deadline in each of the past 10 seasons, NBC Sports Washington’s Chase Hughes writes. The team dealt Markieff Morris and Otto Porter Jr. in separate trades a year ago. This is Tommy Sheppard‘s first year as the team’s new head of basketball operations, so it’ll be interesting to see if he’s as active at the deadline as Ernie Grunfeld was.
  • Rui Hachimura is getting close to returning to the court, as Hughes relays in another piece. The rookie went through a full practice without any limitations over the weekend.
  • Hachimura spoke about Kobe Bryant‘s impact on him, telling the media that Bryant was his hero (via Mike DePrisco of NBC Sports). “Three years ago, during [the] Final Four, [Bryant gave] a special pair of shoes as a surprise to the team. Not only that, he talked about what Mamba Mentality is and what people should be before basketball players,” Hachimura said. “He was more than just a basketball player.”

Injury Updates: R. Jackson, Hachimura, Wagner, R. Williams

Pistons guard Reggie Jackson hopes to play tonight after being sidelined since the second game of the season with a back injury, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Jackson is officially listed as questionable for the game against the Kings. He’ll be on a minutes restriction and isn’t sure if he’ll be used as a starter or a reserve (Twitter link).

“I don’t know how well I’m going to feel. Adrenaline is a different thing so I imagine I’ll probably be winded a little early,” Jackson said (Twitter link).

There’s more injury news to pass along:

  • Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura has been cleared for all basketball activities, head coach Scott Brooks told reporters, including Candace Buckner of The Washington Post (Twitter link). Hachimura hasn’t played since suffering a groin injury December 16. “It’ll be great to have him back before the All-Star break, but you never know,” Brooks said (Twitter link).
  • The Wizards also got good news on Moritz Wagner, who has been cleared for non-contact activities after a check-up in New York City, Buckner tweets. Wagner has missed the past month with a sprained left ankle.
  • Injured Celtics center Robert Williams was able to do some running Tuesday and is set for another scan and evaluation February 4, the team tweeted. Team doctors expect to have a more concrete idea of when he can start playing again after that session. Williams has a bone edema in his left hip and won’t return until after the All-Star break.
  • Cavaliers center Ante Zizic is out indefinitely, tweets Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. He has been diagnosed with a vestibular condition that has forced him to miss the past five games.
  • Nuggets coach Michael Malone told reporters that among his injured rotation players, Gary Harris is the closest to returning, relays Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link). “When I say closest, I don’t know how close that is,” Malone explained.Paul (Millsap) and Jamal (Murray) are still a ways off.”