Scott Brooks

Bradley Beal: “We Just Kind Of Let Teams Walk All Over Us”

Bradley Beal may not be asking for a trade, but he’s clearly unhappy with the current situation in Washington. The Wizards star lashed out at his teammates Sunday after a 22-point loss to the Hornets, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports.

“We’ve gotta have some pride, man, some dog. We’ve got no dog. We just kind of let teams just walk all over us,” Beal said. “… It’s tough because we’re all adults. I can’t do it for guys. I can only do it for myself. All we can do is encourage the next man to be ready to go and accept the challenge. I can’t do that for someone else. I can’t do your guys’ job and you can’t do my job. You know what I’m saying?”

Beal is having a tremendous individual season, leading the NBA in scoring at 33.2 points per game, but it hasn’t translated into team success. The Wizards are 14th in the Eastern Conference with a 5-15 record and are in danger of sliding out of contention for even a play-in game. Much of that is attributable to injuries and a COVID-19 outbreak that forced nearly two full weeks of postponements, but Washington is only 2-7 since resuming play.

Among his post-game comments, Beal offered support for coach Scott Brooks, whose job is rumored to be in jeopardy because of the disappointing start. Beal said Brooks shouldn’t be blamed for the failure of the players.

“I mean, Coach is doing it,” Beal said. “You see the little signs he does. He’s benching guys, he’s taking guys out early. You would think that would kind of click and roll over for us, but it doesn’t.”

Any statement from Beal that expresses discontent will quickly lead to trade speculation. He has repeatedly pledged his loyalty to the organization, and the Wizards have made it clear that they won’t attempt to trade Beal unless he requests it. However, it may get harder to keep him happy as he considers the possibility of wasting one of his best years on a non-playoff team.

The extension that Beal signed in 2019 keeps him under team control through next season, with a $36.4MM player option for 2022/23. That gives the Wizards a little more time to build a competitive roster before facing the possibility of their best player walking away.

Wizards Notes: Brooks, Bertans, Winston, Hachimura, Avdija

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks doesn’t think the All-Star Game should be played this season, Fred Katz of The Athletic tweets. The league and the National Basketball Players Association agreed to hold it in Atlanta next month.

“I saw (LeBron James‘) thoughts on it. I agree. I’m upset,” Brooks said. “I love Atlanta, but I don’t want to go. I’ve been to two All-Star Games…and I don’t want to go. I agree with him.”

We have more on the Wizards:

  • Davis Bertans re-signed with the club for five years and $80MM in November, but his 3-point stroke has been off this season. Katz breaks down Bertans’ struggles in an in-depth Athletic story. Bertans is shooting 33.1% from long range after making 42% of his attempts the past two seasons and it appears he still doesn’t have his legs under him, according to Katz.
  • Rookie guard Cassius Winston has been transferred to the Erie BayHawks to play in the G League season in Orlando, the team tweets. Washington’s G League team, the Capital City Go-Go, is not participating in the event. The second-round pick out of Michigan State has appeared in six NBA games and will receive much-needed playing time in Orlando.
  • Prior to Washington’s 27-point loss to Miami on Friday, second-year forward Rui Hachimura and rookie forward Deni Avdija appeared to be trending in the right direction after the team’s COVID-19 pause, Ava Wallace of the Washington Post writes.

Wizards Notes: Beal, Brooks, Neto

Having seen other NBA stars face criticism for requesting trades in recent years, Wizards guard Bradley Beal is privately “frustrated and confused” by the portrayal of his situation in D.C., according to Fred Katz and Shams Charania of The Athletic.

As Katz and Charania explain, Beal likes the idea of spending his career with one team and would love to establish a legacy in Washington like Dirk Nowitzki‘s in Dallas — Nowitzki spent his 21-year NBA career with the Mavericks, winning a title with the club in year 13. However, Beal feels as if he’s being “nitpicked” for remaining loyal to a struggling Wizards club.

The Athletic’s duo confirms that Beal continues to express a desire to remain in Washington rather than a preference to be traded. The Wizards have just a 4-12 record so far this season, but the hope is that Sunday’s impressive comeback win over Brooklyn can be the start of a turnaround rather than a rare bright spot.

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • In a HoopsHype podcast, Fred Katz and Michael Scotto discussed a number of Wizards-related topics, including where things stand with head coach Scott Brooks. Katz believes that Wizards owner Ted Leonsis will be less inclined to fire Brooks during the season and pay him the remainder of his $7MM salary after having furloughed 40% of his company’s employees in 2020. “I think this is an organization that thinks about optics and that kind of stuff,” Katz said. “I don’t think the optics are there to pay somebody that much when you just furloughed that many people not to work for you in the middle of an economic crisis in the middle of a pandemic.”
  • Brooks told reporters on Monday that Raul Neto will be out for at least a couple games due to a left groin strain (Twitter link via Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington). Ish Smith, who missed a handful of games due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, will reclaim backup point guard duties in Neto’s absence.
  • In case you missed it, we noted on Monday that Wizards guard Garrison Mathews is among the players on two-way contracts making a case for a promotion to a standard contract.

Wizards’ Scott Brooks ‘Firmly’ On Hot Seat?

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks is “sitting firmly” on the hot seat, league sources tell Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer.

Brooks, who was hired by the Wizards in 2016, is now in the final season of his five-year contract with the club, O’Connor notes. His tenure in D.C. got off to a strong start with a 49-33 regular season record and a first-round playoff series win in ’16/17, but Washington’s winning percentage has declined every year since then. So far this season, the team is 2-8.

O’Connor suggests that Brooks “looks lost trying to find effective lineups” this season, though he cautions that the Wizards’ struggles can’t all be blamed on the head coach.

The team’s mid-level free agent addition – Robin Lopez – hasn’t been great, newly-added guard Russell Westbrook has shot a career-worst 37.8% from the floor, and Deni Avdija is a rookie going through growing pains. Thomas Bryant is now out for the season with a torn ACL, while Davis Bertans has been ineffective in the early going after signing a lucrative new long-term contract in November.

As O’Connor writes, it’s still very early in the season, so if the Wizards can turn things around, the pressure on Brooks should lift a little. But the fact that he doesn’t have a contract beyond this season doesn’t bode particularly well, especially if the club continues to underperform.

Southeast Notes: Bonga, Dunn, Bogdanovic, Herro, Robinson

Wizards forward Isaac Bonga got benched on Thursday after starting the first four games and coach Scott Brooks said it was simply a numbers game, Kevin Brown of NBC Sports Washington writes. With Rui Hachimura returning from an eye injury and reclaiming his usual spot in the lineup, Brooks had to choose between Bonga and Troy Brown as the backup. He chose Brown. “We’re trying to find minutes for Troy (Brown Jr.) and Bonga, and (Thursday) it was Troy, but who knows who it will be (Friday) night,” Brooks said.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said he had promising reports regarding guard Kris Dunn‘s arthroscopic right ankle surgery on Tuesday, according to Sarah Spencer of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Dunn is wearing a walking boot and will be re-evaluated in two weeks. The former Bull has yet to make his Atlanta debut. “It sounds as if everything went well, as well as the surgery can go, and he’s staying here at the hotel,” Pierce said. “But he’s post-op and laying low.”
  • Hawks free agent acquisition Bogdan Bogdanovic has averaged 15.3 PPG on 42.9% shooting from deep but Pierce says his value goes beyond perimeter shooting, Spencer writes in a separate story. “He hasn’t had any bad games,” Pierce said. “Bad games aren’t ‘make or miss.’ He’s taking those shots, I’ll live with them…. I trust his work. I’ve been praising the fact that he’s probably our hardest post-practice worker.”
  • Would the combination of Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson be enough to satisfy the Rockets in a potential deal with the Heat for James Harden? Not even close, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets. Houston wants “significantly more than that” for Harden, sources inform Jackson.

Wizards Notes: Bertans, Coronavirus, Brooks, Wall

The Wizards made a big splash in free agency, deciding to commit to power forward Davis Bertans to the tune of $80MM across five years. Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington observes that expectations have increased for Bertans, but wonders if that means the way the Wizards use him will change.

Hughes posits that Bertans will remain a bench scorer but that the club will expect his scoring barrage from a breakout 2019/20 season to continue for the length of his deal.

“To me, if we win games, I’m happy,” Bertans said recently of how he feels about his role with the club going forward. “It doesn’t matter if I’m playing 25-to-30 minutes or I’m not. Last season, I didn’t start most of the games, but I did finish most of the games. In some ways, that’s more important.”

There’s more out of DC:

  • An incoming Wizards player has tested positive for COVID-19, but has yet to arrive in D.C., per Ava Wallace of the Washington Post (Twitter link). Notable new additions to the roster include rookie forward Deni Avdija, reserve center Robin Lopez, stretch four Anthony Gill, point guard Raul Neto, and new two-way player Cassius Winston.
  • Wizards head coach Scott Brooks is in the final year of the five-year, $35MM deal he signed with Washington in 2016, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington notes. Brooks sounds hopeful about an extension. “It’s no secret how much I love this team, the community, the ownership group. Those things will be taken care of at the right time. I’m excited, I’m fired up about coaching this team,” Brooks said.
  • With John Wall set to play his first games with the Wizards in two years, Brooks indicates that the club will play it safe with its starting point guard’s workload for the 2020/21 season, but notes that the former All-Star is “ready to go,” per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Brooks raved, “He has his speed and strength and his shot looks great.”
  • During a virtual news conference today, Brooks also discussed his interest in developing such a young club, per Ava Wallace of the Washington Post“You have to have the talent and skill set, which we have, but there’s a lot of new pieces,” Brooks said.

Wizards Notes: Brooks, Draft Lottery, Wall, Beal

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks will return next season, general manager Tommy Sheppard said on Wednesday, according to Ava Wallace of The Washington Post.

Brooks and the Wizards were invited down to the bubble in Orlando, Fla. but did not fare well, losing seven out of eight contests. However, Washington was without John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Dāvis Bertāns. They did see the continued development of second-year forward Troy Brown Jr. and rookie forward Rui Hachimura.

Despite the Wizards’ losses at the Walt Disney World campus and their overall record of 25-47, Sheppard was content with the job that Brooks did with the young squad. “Scottie did a heck of a job adjusting each year to what was in front of him,” he said. “I think this year, in particular, it really felt like we had dang near three seasons worth of time. And all these young players this year got better in their own way. And I think next year, we’ll see the benefits of all that.”

Here are more notes on D.C.’s basketball team:

  • Because the NBA locked in lottery spots for the eight teams not invited to Orlando, the Wizards have the ninth-best lottery odds despite having the eighth-worst record in the NBA. But Sheppard believes playing in the restart was worth it, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “We had a lot of young players, we know we’re going to add another player if it was the ninth pick, the 15th pick; whatever,” he said. “We like 15 players [in this draft]. The benefit of having players play in that situation, in that environment, far outweighed anything else we could mess with.” Sheppard added that if the Wizards somehow made the playoffs, he would’ve been okay with them getting the No. 15 overall pick.
  • Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington wrote about how the Wizards could opt to select a guard in October’s NBA draft, despite having Wall and Beal. Sheppard said the team may prioritize talent over fit, which might end up being a guard. “Need is always something that you’ve gotta focus on, certainly. But as you go through the draft, if there’s a player there where you say ‘Look, the talent is too good, too great to pass on,’ then you still have free agency to address that need.” In ESPN’s latest mock draft (Insider link), they have the Wiz taking former Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton.
  • On Tuesday, Brooks gave an injury update on the statuses of Wall and Beal. He said that the 30-year-old Wall is 100% healthy following his torn Achilles, and that he and Sheppard plan on visiting him this offseason in Miami. In regards to Beal, who is recovering from a sore rotator cuff, Brooks said that rehab is going well. This season, the 27-year-old Beal averaged 30.5 PPG, 6.1 APG, and 4.2 RPG.

Southeast Notes: Butler, Brown, Bryant, Bertans, Jones

Jimmy Butler is optimistic that Heat president Pat Riley will lure a quality free agent or two to complete their championship puzzle, he said in an ESPN interview (hat tip to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel). “I think it’ll happen,” Butler said. “Only time will tell. I’m telling you, the organization is really good at getting what they want to win a championship. … And I think, a little Miami sunshine never hurt anybody.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Though the Wizards went 1-7 at the Orlando campus, Troy Brown Jr. and Thomas Bryant showed significant growth, according to Ava Wallace of the Washington Post. Brown, the team’s 2018 first-rounder, averaged 15.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG, and 5.0 APG in the last seven seeding games, while Bryant posting averages of 19.6 PPG, 9.1 RPG, and 2.3 BPG in the same span.
  • Forward Davis Bertans’ free agent status, coach Scott Brooks’ status, and the team’s lottery selection are the biggest offseason issues for the Wizards, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington opines. Bertans sat out the restart, in part to protect his health as he dives into unrestricted free agency.
  • Derrick Jones Jr. suffered a neck strain during the Heat’s final seeding game on Friday, the team’s PR department tweets. Jones was taken off the court in a stretcher during the third quarter after a hard screen by Indiana’s Goga Bitadze. Jones underwent an MRI, CT scan and concussion test, so the diagnosis was a best-case scenario. He’ll be re-evaluated over the weekend.

Wizards Notes: Beal, Wagner, Bonga, Stewart

Bradley Beal‘s agent is downplaying a report that the Nets have had “internal discussions” about trading for the star guard, writes Adam Zagoria of Forbes.

“There are no Beal sweepstakes and that’s why he re-signed with the Wizards,” Mark Bartelstein said. “Brad re-signed with the Wizards because he wanted to stay in Washington and the Wizards wanted to keep him there.”

Beal agreed to a two-year extension in October that will keep him under contract through the end of the 2021/22 season. It also includes a $37.26MM player option for 2022/23.

There’s more from Washington, D.C.:

  • Fred Katz of The Athletic looks back at 10 storylines he set for the team during preseason to see how they panned out. Among his findings are that former Lakers Moritz Wagner and Isaac Bonga have both been valuable additions, Thomas Bryant has been slowed by injuries and still hasn’t developed into a rim protector, Troy Brown has improved as a ballhandler and shooter and coach Scott Brooks appears more likely than ever to make it to the end of his contract next season. Katz believes the team’s most significant decisions were to hold onto Beal and impending free agent Davis Bertans.
  • Chase Hughes of NBC Sports continues his look at potential Wizards draft picks with University of Washington power forward/center Isaiah Stewart. Hughes believes Stewart could be an effective back-up big man behind Bryant and Rui Hachimura, but he doesn’t have the athleticism or enough of a complete game to justify being taken with a top-10 pick.
  • Playing five more regular season games, which has been suggested in some circles, probably wouldn’t be enough to give the Wizards a shot at the playoffs, Hughes tweets. At 24-40, Washington was in ninth place when the hiatus began, five-and-a-half games out of the eighth spot.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, MKG, Toliver, Brooks

Now that Hornets power forward Marvin Williams has officially been waived (Williams just signed with the Bucks), Charlotte’s pivot to a youth movement is complete, according to the Charlotte Observer’s Rick Bonnell.

“The goal right now is to get these young guys experience,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “And the more, the better.” 

Here’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Williams’ fellow Hornets vet Michael Kidd-Gilchrist returned the minimum salary he will make in his next landing spot (the Mavericks have been rumored to be in the mix for his services) in his buyout arrangement with Charlotte, per Jeff Siegel of Early Bird Rights (Twitter link). Siegel also notes that, due to this, Kidd-Gilchrist’s buyout accounted for $810,763 of his $13MM salary.
  • All-Star WNBA guard Kristi Toliver, who moonlights as a Wizards assistant coach during her offseason, has decided to move on from the Washington Mystics and sign with the Los Angeles Sparks for the 2020 season. The Wizards expect Toliver to remain in her NBA role for at least the rest of the 2019/20 NBA season, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.
  • In other Wizards news, general manager Tommy Sheppard praised the work that head coach Scott Brooks has done while developing his team this season, per The Athletic’s Fred Katz. “His staff has done a great job,” Sheppard said. “We talk about Moe Wagner. I’ll throw (Isaac) Bonga in there, too. He does something new every night. (Anzejs Pasecniks) went from Exhibit 10 to now being under contract. That didn’t happen by itself.”
  • In case you missed it, Luke Adams compiled news from some other Southeast clubs, in his Heat Notes and Hawks Notes pieces, earlier today.