Scott Brooks

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.

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.

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.”

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.

Eastern Notes: White, Poirier, Knicks, Wizards

Lottery pick Coby White has looked good in the first week of the Bulls‘ training camp, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Coach Jim Boylen said White can play either guard spot and appears to already have him penciled into the rotation. “We’ve added ballers to this team,’’ Boylen said. “Coby White, whether he’s a one, he’s a two, he’s a baller. … That’s what this roster is. We’ve got to do a good job using those guys and give them space and freedom to use what they have.’’

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • French center Vincent Poirier is looking to earn minutes with the Celtics through grit and determination, as he told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. Poirier signed a two-year contract to compete for a role with one of the East’s top teams after playing in Spain last season. “You have a couple of guys who make all the dirty jobs,” he said. “If not, you cannot win. You have to be great at what you can do, and what I can do is all the dirty jobs.”
  • Knicks coach David Fizdale has a dilemma on his hands regarding the point guard spot, as Barbara Barker of Newsday details. With Dennis Smith Jr., Elfrid Payton, and Frank Ntilikina vying for minutes at the position, choosing a starter may be the toughest decision of the preseason for Fizdale. Utilizing two point guards at the same time will be a serious consideration.
  • Developing good habits with a young roster is the first step toward improvement for the Wizards, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post writes. Washington is trying to establish a better culture after the front office and roster changes that were made this offseason. “The season’s going to go quick and the bench is going shorten and Coach (Scott Brooks) is going to want guys who know what he wants and get it done,” guard Bradley Beal said. “So, as long as we’re able to keep those good habits up of being on time, being early, getting the work in and then applying it on the court and getting it done, that’s what I’m looking forward to.”

Wizards Notes: Sheppard, Wall, Roster, Brooks

New GM Tommy Sheppard indicated in a press conference this week that the Wizards will be giving a lot more minutes to younger players this year, relays Fred Katz of The Athletic. Sheppard stated that the organization wants to have each rookie play at least 1,500 minutes between the NBA and the G League. That represents a significant change from last season, when Bradley Beal led the league in minutes played and coach Scott Brooks relied heavily on his veterans.

Washington has a pair of rookies with guaranteed contracts in Rui Hachimura and Admiral Schofield, so they should see plenty of time with the Wizards. Garrison Mathews, who has a two-way deal, and Justin Robinson, who wasn’t drafted but has a chance to make the final roster, could both wind up at Capital City. Troy Brown, Moritz Wagner, Isaac Bonga and Jemerrio Jones, all second-year players who didn’t see much time last season, may spend time there as well.

“We gotta show them why and how it’s good for them,” Sheppard said about selling the approach to veterans. “But I think they’re active participants in it, and I think everybody appreciates that we’re trying to prolong careers. You make a bad decision on a player — they go out, and they pop a hamstring, or something happens which could’ve been avoided because of fatigue factor we didn’t recognize — that’s on us.”

There’s more from D.C., all courtesy of Katz:

  • John Wall is serving as a virtual assistant coach while he waits to return from a ruptured Achilles that may sideline him for the entire season. Sheppard said Wall is helping to teach the younger players, and the team won’t pressure him to try to return. “We’re not waiting on a calendar. There’s not a clock when he comes back,” he said. “He comes back when he’s 100 percent.”
  • The Wizards have 13 players with guaranteed contracts and may opt to go with a 14-player roster rather than the maximum of 15. “If you have 15 players and one gets hurt, (using a two-way player) is the only way you can plug it,” Sheppard said. “You have 14 players; you can sign somebody and bring them in that’s not in the G League. It gives you optionality … My vision, putting rosters together, it doesn’t make a lot of sense not to hold back a roster spot for the competition, for the inevitable injury, something.” Jordan McRae, who has a $400K guarantee, is considered likely to earn a roster spot, according to Katz, but injuries to Wall and Isaiah Thomas increase the need for another point guard.
  • Brooks, who is entering the fourth year of his five-year contract, will be judged on building a positive culture rather than wins and losses, Sheppard adds.

Wizards Rumors: Beal, DPE, Wall, Brooks

When Bradley Beal become eligible for a contract extension in July, the Wizards reportedly offered the most lucrative possible long-term deal they could (three years, $111.8MM). Two months later, they still don’t have an answer from Beal, who isn’t talking as if a new contract is his top priority at the moment.

In a conversation with NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller (video link), Beal said he hasn’t been thinking about an extension, preferring to let his agent handle his contract situation. However, he also stressed that he’s not looking for an exit from the Wizards.

“Honestly you might slap me, but I haven’t thought about it,” Beal said. “I’m just getting better and letting my agent, [GM] Tommy [Sheppard], and everybody else deal with it. I just go hoop. Every day I see somebody and they ask ‘Beal, you leaving?’ and I’m like ‘I’m still living in D.C., I ain’t going nowhere.'”

Acknowledging that he’s aware of speculation about his future and the fact that fans want an answer, Beal said that he likes being a member of the Wizards, hinting that the grass wouldn’t necessarily be greener if he were to go elsewhere.

“It’s a great thing that a lot of people love your game and want you on their team,” Beal said. “But I love the situation I have too. Not every situation would be my situation.”

Sheppard said today that he’s giving Beal space to consider the team’s extension offer, and that it will be up to him to make a decision by October 21 (Twitter link via Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington). Because the All-Star guard still has two guaranteed years left on his current contract, he can’t sign an in-season extension. As we’ve noted previously, waiting until at least 2020 to sign a new deal would give him the best chance to maximize his earnings.

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • Having assumed control of the Wizards’ front office this summer, Sheppard and his group are prioritizing players who embody the “Wizards Way,” as Gene Wang of The Washington Post relays. “I think we’re still evaluating the best way to express it, but we know what we don’t want the Wizards Way to look like,” Sheppard said. “We don’t want players that don’t want to be here. We don’t want people to have contracts that far exceed what they produce result-wise. We don’t want unhappy people that are going to cause disintegration in our locker room. That’s the way out. That’s the Wizards’ way out, so what we’re trying to onboard now, talent, of course, but high character, hard-driven, value-driven people that we can back with data that have places in our locker room.”
  • The Wizards still haven’t gotten an answer on whether their disabled player exception request for John Wall will be approved, Sheppard said today (Twitter link via Hughes). The club applied all the way back at the start of July, so it appears it wasn’t a slam-dunk decision. An NBA-designated physician will have to determine whether Wall is “substantially more likely than not” to be out of action through at least June 15, 2020.
  • Hughes adds in the same tweet that Wall will be helping out the coaching staff this season as he recovers from his Achilles tear. The veteran point guard will have a few players to whom he’s specifically assigned.
  • It will be a pivotal year for head coach Scott Brooks in Washington, according to Hughes, who writes at NBC Sports Washington that the season could go a number of different ways. It remains an open question whether Brooks will be coaching the Wizards beyond 2019/20, says Hughes.
  • The Wizards signed Chris Chiozza and finalized their 20-man training camp roster, as we detailed earlier today.