“Not many guys could say who they want on their team. Not many guys have the opportunity to have the team build around them. So, you can’t just overlook those things. And then the commitment that you make to the city, the commitment that you make to the community, to your team, those things carry weight.” But that control didn’t reach the Wizards’ recent head coaching search the way Beal wanted, according to sources, one of the reasons he was frustrated when his top choice for the job — 76ers assistant Sam Cassell, an assistant with Washington during Beal’s first couple of NBA seasons — couldn’t land a second interview. Former Nuggets assistant Wes Unseld Jr. eventually landed the gig, replacing the incumbent Scott Brooks earlier this month.
More Rumors in this Storyline
Fred Katz: Scott Brooks talked about a lack of physicality in his postgame comments tonight. Here’s Bradley Beal on how to bring physicality, even when you’re having an off-day: “There’s a lot of stuff we can control that we don’t do.” Full quote, with passionate words from Beal, here:
Fred Katz: Bradley Beal on taking zero shots in the first quarter: “That’s just kinda how the chips fell tonight. Didn’t get a lot of early ones, a lot of looks early on in the game, and just stick with it and the second half was my half. It’s a long game. Can’t get too high, too low.”
NBA Central: Bradley Beal is not having fun anymore pic.twitter.com/eVvUIEN4yl
NBA Central: Bradley Beal spent the timeout away from his teammates 😬 pic.twitter.com/Xn3Qky8aU6
Fred Katz: Omg. Reporter: “Are you frustrated?” Bradley Beal: “Is the sky blue?”
Fred Katz: Bradley Beal on the attitude in the locker room: “Yeah, everybody’s pissed. We’re pissed off, yup. But in a good way. We’re pissed off.”
Fred Katz: Bradley Beal on if the Wizards need to make any significant chances, praises the trainers, coaches, etc: “Everybody has their own ritual. I’m not changing mine. But I have to be better…We gotta rally together. We gotta do it together.”
Another factor for the Wizards was the franchise’s deteriorating relationship with Wall, as well as his personal association with Bradley Beal. League insiders believe the relationship between Beal and Wall had run its course at best and had grown rotten at worst. It becomes easy to rationalize Sheppard’s acquisition of Westbrook when locker room politics come into play, or if his marching orders were to pacify Beal to keep him content and coax him into staying.
ClutchPoints: “In John Wall’s absence, Bradley Beal has become the unquestioned franchise player for [the Wizards]. They’re building the organization around him. They want to see what [Beal and Wall] look like together back on the court and go from there.” – @wojespn on John Wall trade rumors
And, he made a very, very stupid mistake flashing gang signs in a shirtless, profane video posted in September. He apologized. He had just turned 30 the week before. It was a dumbass thing to do at any age, but really dumbass when you’ve been the well-paid face of a franchise for a decade, and the father of two kids. And I’ve heard Leonsis was royally ticked off by it, and he should have been.
And — this is not nothing; in fact, it’s a lot — John Wall is loved in this town, by a lot of people who don’t get to be on TV or tweet or who are otherwise celebrated in public ways. He’s loved by people throughout the city, for a decade’s worth of real and good works in the community, including raising $300,000 to help Ward 8 residents laid low economically or otherwise during the COVID-19 pandemic pay their rent. He led the Wizards to a place they’ve rarely been in the last 50 years — relevance on a national stage. They didn’t get to the conference finals, because it’s apparently illegal for the franchise to do so. But Wall led them as far as they’ve been since the Unseld/Hayes days.
Beal’s appearance on Haynes’ podcast comes one week after he expressed frustration following the Wizards’ 116-109 loss to the Chicago Bulls — another defeat during a difficult season. The guard addressed those comments that underscored his mounting frustration. “I was mad that we lost. We lost a very winnable game. And granted, I’m a big part of it, the team’s a big part of it,” Beal said. “One thing I want everybody to understand is I’m not a guy that just shifts blame on his teammates. “I want to win. And whatever that looks like, whatever it takes, let’s go out there and get it done.”
As our Fred Katz duly noted from Chicago on Wednesday, Bradley Beal’s pique after his team’s 115-106 loss to the Bulls was real. Really real. A source who was also there told me Thursday that Beal was as angry with and emotional about his team as he’s ever been since being drafted by the Wizards in 2012.
Fred Katz: Wall on changing the culture: “I wouldn’t just say last year. I think just in the year’s past. It’s always tough to play on a team with so many one-year deals. Everybody’s trying to play at a high level and get theirs.” Adds, “When we had problems in the locker room, it got out.”
Fred Katz: Brooks on using his last timeout with 7-plus minutes to go: “We ran out of timeouts, but we ran out of a lot of things tonight.”
Candace Buckner: Bradley Beal, after the #Wizards (without John Wall, Otto Porter Jr and Markieff Morris) lose to the Bulls, 101-92: “We still got to win the game, man. It don’t matter how many guys we got out. We have enough in here to win.”
But even after an electric victory, all isn’t peachy inside the locker room. And while Brooks is trying to communicate his way through issues that are beyond any single person’s control, one mere comeback victory isn’t gluing back together a team dynamic that countless forces are chiseling. Morris, for example, is now on a mission familiar in D.C.: He wants to find the leakers. He’s not the only one. “It’s fucked up what’s going on,” he said when asked if a win like Tuesday’s is better because it came after news about Thursday’s practice came out. “So, I wouldn’t say that it makes it nicer. We’ve just got to figure it out.”
Morris isn’t alone in feeling this way. Other Wizards players have privately expressed a displeasure with confidential information becoming public so quickly. A flashy victory may have muted the mid-game boos by the fourth quarter, but it didn’t change everything going on inside the team’s nucleus.
“We still have a lot of stuff to fix. It’s one game,” Bradley Beal said. “I’m still not happy. I know that everybody is still not happy with where we are. We still have a lot of work to do but you definitely take a lot of positives out of it, especially with all the negativity that’s been around us. We take all the positives we can get.”
Andrew Greif: End of the first quarter: Clippers 40, Wizards 21. The Clippers are shooting 65.2% (5-8 from 3) and the Wizards are really bad.
Jovan Buha: A “Fire Ernie!” chant has started.
Scott Brooks, along with Wall, Beal and Otto Porter, tried to downplay the obvious tension surrounding the franchise after a 5-11 start. “It happened last week,” Brooks said, part of a three-minute opening statement to the media before he took questions. “We moved on from it as a team. Not trying to minimize what happened, but in all sports, all teams I’ve been on — I’ve been in the league for almost 30 years as a player, as an assistant coach, as a head coach — that has happened.”
Scott Brooks: “It’s something that you understand that it’s a competitive environment and a lot of times, you have adult conversations that get heated. And we all have to live with what we say and work things out when that does happen and move on.”
Fred Katz: John Wall on how he evaluates his performance: “I could play better. Making shots-wise & all that. Everybody keeps saying I’m not in shape. I’m in shape. Just, I deal with injuries. I play through them. I don’t complain about them. I go out there and give it everything I’ve got” pic.twitter.com/3VAtNWLJm5
Fred Katz: Otto Porter on if the Wizards can be critical of each other w/o conflict: “Of course. You see that we’re not winning. Everyone is frustrated. At the end of the day, we have to be able to communicate with each other so we can learn from it and try to build on things together.”
Fred Katz: John Wall on if the team can get through its recent bump in the road: “Yeah, for sure. This is not the first time this happened. It happens all the time throughout an NBA season, depending on what team it is. Most of the time you just try to keep those things in the locker room.”
Fred Katz: Bradley Beal on if he’s been this frustrated before during his seven years with the Wizards: “I’ve been frustrated but frustrations happen…I’ve experienced things. You see things. You hear things. You live and learn.” pic.twitter.com/lJopUWhDue
Players were about to huddle to conclude the day and one mumbled some words under his breath, expressing unhappiness with the way things were going amid a 5-11 start. The Wizards were finishing up a turbulent practice that included verbal disagreements between Beal and Austin Rivers as well as Jeff Green and John Wall, sources told The Athletic. Coach Scott Brooks was involved in the fracas. Wall walked away with a rare fine from the team, sources said.
A source told The Athletic that changes are coming, including that “you will notice a difference” going forward on how Brooks handles players’ rotations. The team will consider trades, especially with guys who are perceived not to play hard every night, according to sources. “We’re frustrated because we’re playing like shit,” another source told The Athletic.
Candace Buckner: While reporting this story, I’ve learned that in spite of Bradley Beal’s heat-of-the-moment comments directed at #Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld, in which he said something along to the lines of ‘I’m sick of this sh –!’ … Beal has NOT requested a trade,
Fred Katz: Bradley Beal and Austin Rivers didn’t get along during their high school days, when they were both high-ranked recruits in the same class, but supposedly patched up their beef enough to play together when they had a make-good meeting in Florida this summer.
Fred Katz: From talking with people around the NBA, the league is as down on Wall’s value as you’d imagine. Supermax deal ($170-plus million over four years) starts next year, and people are genuinely wondering about his locker room dynamic. Today isn’t helping that.
The Washington Wizards fined All-Star guard John Wall for unloading a verbal barrage onto coach Scott Brooks in a recent practice session, league sources told ESPN. After teammate Jeff Green and Brooks pushed Wall and Wizards teammates to raise the level of intensity in a practice last week, Wall fired back with “F— you,” toward Brooks, league sources said.
The disconnect between Wall and his teammates has increased throughout the Wizards’ struggles, league sources said. Washington is 5-11, and underachieving this season.
Candace Buckner: On Saturday, the #Wizards had this heated practice in which Bradley Beal and Austin Rivers had a verbal altercation. Beal grew heated and gestured toward Pres Ernie Grunfeld, and said something along the lines ‘It starts at the top.’ More details coming.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Story filed to ESPN: The Wizards fined All-Star John Wall for unloading a verbal barrage onto coach Scott Brooks in a recent practice. After Wall and his teammates had been challenged to raise intensity in that session, Wall fired back with “F— you,” to Brooks. Story soon.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Wall apologized to Brooks in the minutes after cursing him, and apologized to his teammates the following day, league sources tell ESPN.
Although Washington may be floundering during a 5-11 start to the season, there is a belief that the team has zero plans to move on from either of its franchise cornerstones, based on conversations with multiple league sources who have familiarity with the Wizards and how their front office operates. A Wizards spokesman, meanwhile, cited team policy by saying President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld “doesn’t comment on rumors, so he won’t comment on this one.”
When asked if he would be “surprised” if the Wizards made a deal involving Wall or Beal, Brooks responded: “I mean, like I said, the start that we’re having, there’s going to be rumors. It’s just part of the business. It’s just part of it. I’ve been in the league a long time, that’s just always been the case.”
Shams Charania: Sources on @TheAthleticNBA @WatchStadium: The Washington Wizards had a volatile practice within recent days, with verbal altercations among players and an exasperated Bradley Beal saying toward team officials: “I’ve been dealing with this for seven years.”
Shams Charania: Teams have these kinds of practices, and tension always reveals itself amid underperformance. Wizards are 5-11 so far this year. Several players had verbal back and forth in this practice, league sources said.
“If all five of us give effort on that end, we’ll be fine,” Wall said about the defensive end. “If three of us give effort, we won’t be fine. If four give effort, we still won’t be fine. It takes five to all be on one page. Until we do that, we’re going to keep having these ups and downs.”
Fred Katz: Austin Rivers is not happy with the 5-11 Wizards’ start: “We’re 5-and — I don’t even know what the fuck we are. Our record’s terrible.”
Fred Katz: Brooks on getting down 29 and the lack of effort: “That’s embarrassing… Look what happened, the guys off the bench. They played with passion.”
Fred Katz: Brooks has been as hard on the team tonight as he’s been all year: “There’s no way to win games if you’re not competing for your teammates, and I gotta find five guys that are willing to do that.”
A man whose confidence has been abundant since adolescence, whose words usually match whatever swagger he shows on the court, whose middle initial of “J” has always seemed perfectly appropriate, will no longer shoot a basketball. And he won’t say why. “That’s a great question. I can’t answer that for you,” Rivers said when asked about his dwindling shot attempts. “If I say something, I’m gonna get in trouble. [I’ll] figure it out. I’m gonna have to figure it out.”
“With John and Brad, they’re so good, and they demand so much attention. They can play-make,” Brooks said. “When we have Austin out there, we gotta figure out ways that we can give him more opportunities. And like I said, that’s on me. I gotta do a better job.”
The Magic used that same ball to spur a 52-23 run, jump to an eventual 25-point lead and close out a 117-108 victory. The Wizards cut the deficit to one point in the fourth quarter, but once again, dropped oft-used buzz terms after the game. Pride. Passion. Effort. They didn’t have it, they said, after falling to 2-9. “I’m not taking no more moral victories, bro. We’re 2-9,” Austin Rivers said. “There’s no more, ‘We played well the second half.’ We just lost to the Magic. We’re 2-9.”
“A catastrophe is in the making in Washington, in our nation’s capital, as it pertains to basketball,” Stephen A. Smith said Thursday on “First Take.” ” . . . The situation with John Wall is so bad I’m getting pictures of John Wall off the court, [where] people are seeing him. They’re bringing up Rosebar, one of the most popular nightclubs, if not the most popular nightclub, in Washington, D.C. They’re talking about off-field habits. John Wall, pay attention!”
Wall apparently was paying attention. The point guard got wind of Smith’s comments and shared a message for his critics during an Instagram Live session from Orlando, where the Wizards will take on the Magic on Friday. “It’s a long season, everybody don’t start off great,” he said. “Keep being a fan, I’m gonna keep hooping. If you don’t like it, you can hike it. Facts!”
A commenter asked why Wall, who was chilling in a hot tub, wasn’t in the gym. “I ain’t in the gym because I just left practice ‘bout an hour or two ago, so now I’m relaxing with my feet up,” Wall said. “But don’t tell the fans I said that. They think I’m supposed to stay in the gym all day.”
Beal acknowledged that the speculation around the team, and demands that it be broken up, are unavoidable but added that he can’t feed into the negativity. “I don’t do it. I don’t believe in that. I feel that’s quitting on your team, quitting on everybody,” Beal told The Athletic after the Wizards’ 134-111 loss to Oklahoma City. “I understand that it’s a business at the end of the day and if that’s what somebody is going to do, that’s what they’re going to do. But I’m a leader of this team. I’ve been here for seven years. I refuse to have any type of ship sinking. I can’t let it sink without fighting. That’s who I am. That’s how I was built. I’m going to fight my ass off until the end. I promise you that.”
An NBA scout who has observed the Wizards recently called them the worst team he’s seen all season, given its shoddy defense, abysmal body language and nonexistent effort. Though the Wizards bounced back from a similarly dreadful start two years ago in Brooks’ first season, reaching Game 7 of the conference semifinals, the scout wasn’t optimistic that this team was capable of a repeat. “April 9,” he said, mentioning the last day of the regular season. “That’s it for these guys.”
“Can’t keep saying the same shit over and over,” Beal said. “We continue to say what we need to do but it’s not going to change until we do it, plain and simple.”
Wizards owner Ted Leonsis went through a series of media interviews alongside NBA commissioner Adam Silver. As Silver was asked about the increase in scoring in the NBA this season, Leonsis interjected with a quip about his own franchise. “They just have to play us,” Leonsis said.
Leonsis, who sat courtside as his Wizards were demolished by the Oklahoma City Thunder the night before, is bothered by their inability to defend. “When you score 125 points and you’re losing by 25, it usually says you need to play a little bit of defense,” he told NBC Sports Washington. “Right now, we really have to get a structure in place and especially defend the three-ball.”
“I hope the team isn’t looking at the precedent we set when we started [2-8] a couple of years ago and went to Game 7 against the Celtics and almost went to the [Eastern Conference] Finals. We won 49 games that year. You don’t want to just fall so far behind and more importantly, you don’t want to fall into these bad habits,” he said.
Porter didn’t seem too worked up about it. He said the Wizards “gotta play together” and “can’t have our heads down.” “We got to encourage each other,” Porter said. “We’re not going to get it from the media. We’re not going to get it from the opposite fans, the opposite team. We’ve got to stick together.”
Fred Katz: Otto Porter on if he agrees with Wall’s & Beal’s comments: “I can’t say that. But you gotta play together. We can’t have our heads down… So we gotta figure, hey, we gotta play for each other. Nobody’s cheering for us. We gotta be our own backbone. We gotta carry each other.”
Fred Katz: Brooks on comments from last night about guys having their own agendas: “Everybody’s frustrated. I get that. I kinda like that. I like the fact that we are frustrated that we didn’t take care of business last night, but it’s about us. It’s not about one particular guy.”
Fred Katz: More Brooks: “It’s early in the season. I’m glad it’s not game 60, and we’re still frustrated with how we’re playing.”
John Wall and Bradley Beal called out their teammates for having their “own agendas” after a 116-112 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Friday night. Washington dropped to 1-4 to start the season, with the pair of All-Star guards blasting the Wizards’ effort on the defensive end of the floor, where Washington is giving up 122.8 points a game, second-worst in the league. “Sometimes we have our own agendas on the floor, whether it’s complaining about shots, complaining about playing time, complaining about whatever it may be,” Beal said. “We’re worried about the wrong (expletive) and that’s not where our focus needs to be and it’s just going to continue to hurt us.”
Wall agreed after the Wizards committed a season-high 21 turnovers and wilted in the fourth quarter. “Everybody on their own agenda,” said Wall. “We showed glimpses when we do stuff as a team, we show how good we can be, and then we go back to trying to do it individually, and that’s mostly on the defensive end.”
Fred Katz: John Wall on if he’s surprised the team is having this convos only five games into the year: “For sure. I am, because I feel like we have a veteran team and it’s like, we go back to the same thing…Just because it’s on paper don’t mean anything,” pic.twitter.com/siQdpxRvSL
“We got guys who’s worried about who’s getting shots, where the ball is going on the offensive end,” Wall said. “We should never worry about that. No matter if we’re missing or making shots, we got to be able to compete on the other end, and if you can’t do it on both ends of the floor, you don’t need to be playing.”
When reminded of that, Brooks reiterated “I like the way Kelly’s playing” but added, “Otto, he has to just keep playing and can’t worry about your shots and worry about your shot-making, but Kelly is playing well.” When Porter was asked if he would speak for an interview after the game, he said, “No, I don’t have a minute.”
Wall thinks the Wizards need to more weapons around him and All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal. “Just got to add some pieces,” he said. “A lot, to be honest. There’s a lot that we can use… I think it’s pretty obvious. I don’t need to point it out. I think the way the league is going, you need athletic bigs, you need scoring off the bench, you need all of those types of things. We don’t really have an athletic big. I mean, Ian [Mahinmi] is older. [Marcin Gortat] is older. They’re not athletic guys, but they do the little things that permit their game to help as much as possible.”
Candace Buckner: John Wall has repeated often about wanting “guys who want to be here.” And he said it’s obvious the #Wizards need “athletic bigs” moving forward.
Gortat had plenty to say about the team’s selfishness on the defensive end. “I agree completely,” Gortat said about Brooks’s “selfish” comments. “It comes from the coach, and we as the players, we’ve seen that during the game. We feel that sometimes. It has to change. It has to change as soon as possible. It’s not only on one guy. It’s on a lot of people. You can’t win basketball games if you’re just thinking about yourself.
Gortat continued: “For example, if I’m guarding DeMarcus Cousins or Karl-Anthony Towns, he’s going to beat me to the paint or he’s going to have a better position than me, I’m going to need a guard to help me out and a big to throw extra hands and extra bodies under the basket to help me to stop that guy. And the same way goes for guys like Russell Westbrook coming here or LeBron James coming here, and I’ve got to help my teammates to stop these guys from getting to the paint and bully them to the paint.”
“Looking at the things we were doing over the course of the year, over the course of the last couple games. Just seeing our demeanor and our approach and seeing two different teams,” Beal said. “They showed us clips of us last year in the playoffs. Just our intensity, our focus, our grit and grind, attention for detail for everything was a lot better. So, that’s who we need to be.”
Chase Hughes: Scott Brooks is very frustrated about the Wizards not sharing the ball. He is as mad as we have seen him postgame. Said ‘it’s embarrassing that we don’t play with the passion we need.’
Candace Buckner: Brooks: “We’re a selfish basketball team right now.”
Candace Buckner: Just left a VERY tense #Wizards locker room — in which Otto Porter Jr. and Tomas Satoransky were the only starters who stuck around long enough to talk. Both guys responded with variations of “I don’t know” when asked for their diagnosis of what’s wrong with this team now
“I’m tired of talking about this s***. It’s just the same thing over and over,” he said. “Until we do it individually and together collectively, we’re going to get our asses kicked in the playoffs. This isn’t even remotely acceptable, how we are playing right now.”
Beal was sick of his own play and that of his teammates when addressing the media afterwards. “We’re acting like we don’t give a damn, honestly. We thought we could just show up and play because they didn’t have anything to play for. We just thought it was going to be a cake walk and they just smacked us in the mouth,” Beal said.
In an ESPN interview, Wall described feeling taken aback by Gortat’s tweet, saying he was surprised the center placed the word team in quotations. More than a week ago, the players met face to face, but Wall was coy about the discussion. “Yeah, we had meetings. We’re grown men,” Wall acknowledged. “We talk one on one but that’s locker room talk. It sticks in there.”
Washington Wizards teammates John Wall and Marcin Gortat met privately last week to confront each other about where they stood with one another, league sources told ESPN. It was the first time the two spoke in person regarding Gortat’s tweet many interpreted as a passive-aggressive slight directed at the All-Star guard, according to league sources.
The meeting, which didn’t last long, facilitated the airing of grievances, but sources say there is still more work to be done to fully repair that relationship. Those close to the franchise suggest these are natural altercations from the rigors of such an emotional season.
Also, Wall had thoughts on the recent “everybody eats” line — first used by Bradley Beal following the win over the Raptors in which Washington shared the ball for 30 assists, and interpreted by several fans and media outlets as a shot against Wall. “That was funny to me. That’s a joke. If you want to say team win and put it in exclamation points or everybody eats and all that. I’m one of the top point guards that passes the ball more than anybody. I hear a lot of times I pass too much sometimes,” Wall told NBC Sports Washington during his first interview of the circuit. “I know what I do for my team, I know what I bring every night. Like I said, if any guys have a problem with me they can talk to me face to face as a man. And if you can’t do that then I lose a lot of respect for you.”
“Well, my comment is that it’s clearly the whole drama that was stirred up from a few days ago, a week ago, whatever,” Gortat said. “It was definitely not even me or Brad or anybody on the team was trying to hit him with anything that’s going to make him pissed or that’s going to make him frustrated. And there wasn’t definitely any hit at him, basically. “We talk about team win with 30 assists a game, everybody played for each other. We enjoyed the game,” Gortat continued. “And basically I see that, you know, he felt different way. He felt it was a different way and he came back with that kind of a comment. So, now we got to ask each other questions, who’s attacking who?”
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