NBA Rumor: Washington Wizards Turmoil?

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“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.

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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:

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.

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.”

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.”
3 years ago via ESPN

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.”

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.

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.”

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.”

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!”

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.”

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 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.”

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?”
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