Storyline: Washington Wizards Turmoil?

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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.”

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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.”

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?”

After the Washington Wizards defeated the Detroit Pistons on Friday night, John Wall revealed just how a recent players-only meeting went awry. The session was intended for open and honest dialogue but while some players spoke freely, others shut down. “We had our team meeting,” Wall said Friday. “A couple guys took it the negative way and it hurt our team. Instead of taking it in a positive way like we did in the past and using it to build our team up, it kind of set us back a little bit.”

Coach Scott Brooks said he never knew about the meeting. Even if he had known, Brooks said he would not have meddled in the players’ discussion or asked how it played out. Without knowing the topics, Brooks has been in the NBA long enough not to be surprised it had gone poorly. “I’ve been in the league 30 years now. There’s been a lot of good meetings, a lot of not-so-good meetings. You just take them for what they are,” Brooks said. “But I’ve never been in a meeting where the issue is not two things: playing together and playing hard. That’s what always the meetings are about. ‘Guys, we’re not playing together. We don’t trust each other. We’re not playing hard.’ ”

“It was tough. I try to keep all our stuff as personal as possible but I think in a way not everybody got a chance to speak whenever they wanted to,” Bradley Beal said. “They didn’t want to bring up an issue or something they had with a problem with on the team. Regardless of what may be going on, as men we’ve got to be able to accept what the next man says, be respectful about it and move on from it. I think it was one of those situations where we didn’t necessarily get everything that we wanted to get accomplished. “Honestly, it was probably – I won’t say pointless,” Beal continued, “but we didn’t accomplish what we needed to accomplish in that meeting.”

The perception of the Wizards from the outside and within their own locker room at the midway point of this 2017-18 season perhaps says a lot about how the expectations are higher than they have been for this franchise in quite some time. After 41 games, exactly the halfway point, the Wizards are 23-18. Over the course of a full 82-game schedule that would amount to 46 wins. Considering that this team has only won 46 games or more twice since the 1978-79 season, that’s not bad at all. But the Wizards have reached a new era where simply being good isn’t good enough. When asked to grade the first half, head coach Scott Brooks and his players all offered marks within the C to B range. What held them back from As is the fact they have lost many games they feel they should have won.

After Gortat proclaimed the team’s reserves “one of the worst benches in the league right now” following Washington’s seventh loss in nine games Saturday against Chicago, Brooks and Gortat stood together in front of the team before practice Monday. Gortat apologized, and Brooks preached unity to a team that can’t afford to waste energy pointing fingers. “I look at things from a whole, because this is how — when I played, I was a backup, and I didn’t like to be divided,” Brooks said. “We don’t have two teams here, we have one basketball team, and right now we’re not happy and content on being 2-7.”
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