Team USA guard Bradley Beal will no longer play in 2021 Tokyo Olympics

USA Basketball Men’s National Team guard Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards), who was placed under USA Basketball’s health and safety protocols Wednesday, will remain in health and safety protocols and will be unable to participate in the July 23 through August 8 Tokyo Olympic Games. A roster replacement will be named at a later time.

Beal was named to the U.S. Olympic Mens Basketball Team on June 28, and participated in the USA Basketball National Team’s training camp and exhibition games in Las Vegas. Starting in the USA’s first three USA exhibition games, Beal averaged 10.3 points and 4.3 rebounds while playing 29.0 minutes a game.

Out of an abundance of caution, USA Basketball Men’s National Team member Jerami Grant has been placed under USA Basketball’s health and safety protocols, USA Basketball announced Thursday afternoon.

Search for new Wizards head coach begins

The Washington Wizards coaching search has begun. Via the Washington Times:

As word quickly traveled that the Washington Wizards were parting ways with Scott Brooks, general manager Tommy Sheppard’s cell phone started to light up. There was no shortage of suitors who were already expressing interest in the team’s coaching vacancy, he said.

“I’m getting bombarded,” Sheppard said.

Perhaps Sheppard was trying to quell concerns or hype up the franchise given that there are five other teams in search of a new coach. But after moving on from Brooks following five seasons, one thing is clear: Sheppard will get to choose who he feels is best for the franchise after inheriting Brooks upon his front office promotion in 2019.

This will be Sheppard’s first coaching hire, and he could go any direction with it. For example, does he want an experienced veteran to lead stars Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook? Or does he prefer an up-and-coming candidate who might be better equipped if the Wizards are forced to take a sudden change of direction? Sheppard could even look to make history, leaving open the possibility the team could hire the league’s first woman head coach.

The Wizards core awaiting the next head coach includes Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal in the backcourt, and Davis Bertans, Rui Hachumura and Thomas Bryant in the frontcourt, plus promising rookie guard Deni Avdija. All are signed at least through next season.

Wizards guard Bradley Beal out with hamstring strain

Wizards guard Bradley Beal has been diagnosed with a left hamstring strain following MRI testing conducted yesterday. He will miss the team’s next two games (Monday and Wednesday at Atlanta) before being re-evaluated on Friday.

Beal sustained the injury during Saturday night’s win at Indiana.

Per the Washington Post, “I couldn’t tell you when I tweaked [the hamstring]. I knew it was just a little tight in the second half,” Beal said Saturday. “In the first play of the second half I twisted my damn ankle, and I just wanted to make sure — I went to the back, wanted to make sure it wasn’t too crazy. I’m always a guy who will bounce back pretty quick, especially with ankle injuries… But I went back out there, [and] my left hammy felt a little tight. I didn’t think anything of it. I just kept playing, pushed through it, and then I think the layup on [Doug] McDermott on the end that put us up one, that kind of intensified it a little bit. Then the final little floater I missed at the end, that definitely kind of put it over the top for me. Coach [Scott Brooks] played it smart, got me out of there, and thank God we closed it out.”

The Wizards are on a four-game winning streak

The Wizards are on a four-game winning streak. Via the Washington Post:

Even after they had defeated the league-leading Utah Jazz on the road and conquered Zion Williamson and the visiting New Orleans Pelicans in overtime, perhaps the best test for these streaking Washington Wizards came Saturday night at Capital One Arena.

The opponent? The lowly Detroit Pistons, last in the East yet a victor against Washington already this month. In fact, the Wizards entered Saturday’s contest with a 3-7 record against the five other teams at the bottom of the conference.

Bradley Beal said Friday that his team’s ability to close out a tight win in overtime against New Orleans showed improvement from a squad that has squandered late leads often. The matchup with Detroit offered the opportunity to showcase a different kind of growth.

Even after losing two starters to injury during the game, Washington was up to the task in a commanding 121-100 win.

In the victory, Beal scored 37, Ish Smith scored 16 off the bench, Russell Westbrook put up 15 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists, and Robin Lopez added 15 off the bench.

Bradley Beal named NBA All-Star Game starter for first time

The National Basketball Association announced tonight that Wizards guard Bradley Beal has been voted to start in the NBA All-Star Game on March 7 in Atlanta. Beal tallied 3,485,051 fan votes, the most among guards in the Eastern Conference, and finished first among guards in the media and player voting. He will be making his third career All-Star appearance and his first career start.

“It is truly an honor to be selected to start in the All-Star game for the first time in my career,” said Beal. “I want to thank the fans, media and players for selecting me to represent the Wizards organization during the All-Star festivities in Atlanta. I also want to thank my teammates, coaches, the entire organization, and our fans who are still supporting us through this unprecedented season.”

Beal currently leads the NBA in scoring with a career-high average of 32.8 points per game to go along with a career-high 5.2 rebounds per game. He is also averaging 4.7 assists per game while shooting .473 from the field. He tallied a career-high and franchise tying high of 60 points on January 6 at Philadelphia.

The nine-year pro has posted 16 games of 30+ points, which ranks second in the league, and is tied for the league lead with three games of 40+ points. Beal began the season with a 17-game streak of 25+ points, which surpassed Michael Jordan’s streak in 1988-89, and ranks as the fifth-longest in league history and the longest streak to start a season since the 1976 NBA-ABA merger. He has scored 786 points in the team’s first 24 games, which marks the most points scored through a player’s first 24 games in franchise history.

Beal joins the Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant, the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid and the Nets’ Kyrie Irving as Eastern Conference starters. Fans, players, and media determined the starters for the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, with fans accounting for 50% of the vote while the players and media accounted for 25% each.

Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James and Kevin Durant who are the NBA All-Star Game starters who led their respective conferences in fan votes during NBA All-Star Voting 2021 presented by AT&T, will serve as team captains for the Team LeBron vs. Team Durant matchup and draft the rosters from the pool of players voted as starters and reserves in each conference. TNT will air the 2021 NBA All-Star Draft on Thursday, March 4 at 8 p.m. ET.

And via the Washington Post:

Beal was named an all-star starter for the first time in his career Thursday, becoming the first Wizards player to earn a starting nod since John Wall in 2015. Beal will make his third career all-star appearance when the league holds the showcase in Atlanta on March 7 — he was named as a reserve in 2018 and 2019, one of seven players from each conference as voted by coaches, before being left out completely in 2020…

Beal’s continual growth in his ninth year in the league is part of what makes him such a fascination among fans and a headache among opposing coaches.

The guard’s scoring numbers have been on an upward trend for four straight seasons. Through 24 games this year, Beal is averaging a league-best 32.8 points — a career high — as well as 4.7 assists and 5.2 rebounds.

In his position as franchise cornerstone, he has made the extraordinary look routine. Beal had at least 25 points in each of his first 17 games this season, a stretch that eclipsed Michael Jordan’s record for the longest such streak to start a campaign since the NBA and ABA merged in 1976. In January, Beal dropped 60 points in Philadelphia to tie the Wizards’ single-game franchise scoring record Gilbert Arenas set in 2006.

Even though All-Star weekend will be condensed into one day I’m very glad it’s happening. And Beal probably is, too.

No Bradley Beal for Wizards Friday against the Knicks

The Wizards will be without their star shooting guard tomorrow against the Knicks, as Bradley Beal will be out for rest purposes. Via the Washington Post:

Beal, who leads the league with 32.8 points per game and leads the Wizards with 35.3 minutes per game, will miss his first contest in more than a month. He missed Washington’s 128-124 loss to Miami on Jan. 9 because of the league’s coronavirus protocols, but the guard has not missed a game for rest all season.

The timing is understandable: The Wizards (6-16) are in the midst of a 16-game stretch in 27 days this month because of rescheduling in the wake of the team’s two-week coronavirus pause in January. After Friday, Washington faces the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets back-to-back on Sunday and Monday before playing the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday. The team then leaves on a West Coast trip with four games in six days.

A fun season-long thing to watch will be chemistry development between Beal and new backcourt-mate Russell Westbrook.

Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal struggle in Wizards loss to Heat

Friday in Miami, the Heat defended home court, beating the Wizards in convincing fashion, 122-95. The Wizards starting lineup, including their star-studdled backcourt brought little to the table. Via the Washington Post:

Beal’s rare off night made the loss feel even more miserable as the Wizards fell to 5-14 and bungled their shot at notching back-to-back wins for just the second time this season. The guard, who leads the league in scoring and had the most all-star fan votes of any Eastern Conference guard by a healthy margin when the league released its first voting totals Thursday, had his lowest scoring game since he had seven points on Dec. 23, 2018.

He matched that tally Friday, scoring seven points while missing 13 of his 14 shots from the floor, including missing six of seven from beyond the arc. His deep ball in the third quarter was his lone field goal and the game marked the first one this year he failed to score at least 25 points, ending his record-breaking streak.

Without Beal to prop up the team and with Russell Westbrook offering a mediocre 13 points in his stead, Washington had next to no chance at matching Heat center Bam Adebayo and his supporting cast. Kendrick Nunn had a game-high 25 points, but it was Adebayo’s 21-point performance — including an astounding 11-for-11 from the free throw line in the first quarter — that got the Heat up and running with a new rotation Coach Erik Spoelstra debuted Friday, in part to contend with Westbrook.

A bright spot for the Wizards was recent new addition Alex Lex. Coming off the bench, the center shot 7 of 12 to lead the team in scoring with 18 points and five blocks in 24 minutes.

Bradley Beal scores 47 points in Wizards loss to Pelicans

It’s been a rough time lately for Bradley Beal and a Wizards team that is missing a lot of key players. Yesterday’s did-not-play list included Russell Westbrook, among others. The latest struggle saw them lose 124-106 to the Pelicans last night. Via the Washington Post:

Beal more than made up for a sluggish first quarter by scoring 24 in the third quarter alone, finishing with 47 points on 17-for-37 shooting. Lopez added 14.

“We know we’re a lot better than what our record is showing, and we can’t feed into that,” Beal said. “We can’t think that’s the type of team we are — granted, reality is reality. But we also believe that we’re better than that, we’re shorthanded, we haven’t played in two weeks. We’re still getting back. It’s no excuse, 100 percent . . . but we can’t feed into being 3-11.”

Despite Beal’s effort, he couldn’t make up for a roster missing six key contributors — Deni Avdija, Davis Bertans, Troy Brown Jr., Rui Hachimura, Ish Smith and Moe Wagner. Brooks is not sure when they will get out of league protocols and rejoin the team, but all six players are now back on court and working out.

Jordan Bell, signed last week to a 10-day contract, started to give the Wizards more size against Zion Williamson and Steven Adams. But the 6-foot-8 forward could only do so much — Bell had a team-high 11 rebounds in 30 minutes.

Beal scored 47. The rest of the Wizards starting lineup yesterday scored 25.

The Pelicans continued to get monster performances from their pair of starting forwards. Brandon Ingram shot 12/19 and hit 7/12 threes for 32 points, six rebounds and eight assists, while Zion Williamson shot 12/16 for 32 points.

Bradley Beal scores 60, but Wizards lose to Sixers

Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal had himself a game on Wednesday, shooting 25 of 35 and hitting 7 of 10 three-pointers for 60 points, seven rebounds and five assists, but unfortunately it was one that ended in a loss. Via the Washington Post:

Bradley Beal’s career night was sealed at the free throw line, an anticlimactic ending that belied the thrilling performance the Washington Wizards’ star guard delivered in Philadelphia on Wednesday. Beal came achingly close to breaking Gilbert Arenas’s franchise single-game scoring record set 15 years ago, just as the Wizards nearly completed a stunning comeback against the 76ers.

Beal led his team with 60 points, tying Arenas’s tally from Dec. 17, 2006. But he could not will his team to a win.

The Wizards lost, 141-136, falling just short of a 21-point comeback mounted midway through the third quarter. Beal shot 20-for-35 from the field, 7-for-10 from three and made 13 of 15 at the free throw line, notching his fourth career 50-point game.

He had 57 points through three quarters but shot 1-for-6 in the final 12 minutes.

Examining the idea of a Bradley Beal to Nuggets trade

Here’s the Denver Post examining the idea of a Bradley Beal trade from the Wizards to the Nuggets:

The most tantalizing “win-now” move for the Nuggets would be to acquire 27-year-old Washington shooting guard Bradley Beal. The league’s No. 2 scorer behind James Harden, Beal represents arguably the juiciest trade chip across the league. But there are several obstacles to Beal landing in Denver.

The first is that he’s given no indication he wants to leave Washington, and multiple league sources believe the Wizards don’t want to move him. He has two more seasons before deciding on a 2022-’23 player option, which buys the Wizards time. Not that the Wizards have been in anything other than purgatory the last few seasons, but moving Beal means a full-scale rebuild.

From Denver’s perspective, trading for Beal means including rookie Michael Porter Jr. Remember, the Nuggets had no intention of trading Porter at the trade deadline, and that was before he showed well in the bubble. Now, after earning second-team All-Bubble during the seeding games and earning enough trust from coach Michael Malone to be on the floor during crunch time of elimination games, it’s likely his internal value has only increased. In addition, Porter should have a more consistent role next season considering the question marks around Gary Harris’ confidence and Will Barton’s health.

Considering the Nuggets’ success both in the regular season and the 2020 NBA playoffs, a guess is they will look to keep their core together and not make any dramatic trades this offseason. But of course, anything is possible, and examining possibilities is always fun.