The elephant in the room at Monday's media day session for the Wizards, who begin training camp on Tuesday, is the status of Bradley Beal's contract extension. Entering his fourth season -- the final of his rookie scale contract -- the shooting guard still isn't saying much.
What Beal did say, however, echoed the tone of what parties on both sides have said to CSNmidatlantic.com all summer: Talks remain open, cordial and if a deal isn't reached by the end of October it doesn't mean one won't be reached eventually. Beal would become a restricted free agent next summer and the Wizards would have the right to match any offer sheet to retain him.
"I'm not worried about it," said Beal, who is coming off averages of 15.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists. "It's not going to change my mentality. It's not going to make me angry towards any party or anything like that. I still have this jersey and I'm going to play my heart out each and every night.
"I'm confident (something will be worked out before October ends). It's just a matter of them doing it. If they do or don't it's fine either way. I still have to play the season. That's the only thing I'm concerned about."
The key for Beal, who has yet to play a full season because of repeated injury setbacks, is health. He fractured his wrist last preseason and missed the start of the regular season. Then he had a recurring stress injury return to his lower right leg for the third year in a row. Spraining both ankles also has been common place.
"That's definitely my goal," Beal said of playing an 82-game season for the first time. "I've been healthy this summer. I haven't had pains anywhere, knock on wood."
He had a stellar postseason when he led the Wizards in scoring in 10 games with 23.4 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.6 assists. They made it to the conference semifinals for the second season in a row and probably would've gone farther if it wasn't for John Wall breaking his hand and wrist vs. the Atlanta Hawks.
But unlike years past, when the Wizards would disintegrate without their All-Star point guard, Beal picked up the slack. He overcame a badly sprained ankle that brought him to tears to total 22 assists in the three games Wall missed. Beal's scoring didn't suffer as he created for others and was a defensive force like never before as he shut down Kyle Korver. That's the player he has to be to get the Wizards to the next level and himself the contract that he wants.
"I have to. It's a no-brainer," Beal said of those 10 playoff games being the norm with his play and not the exception. "In order for me to the player that I always claim I want to be, I have to do that. I can't take any nights off. I have to be ready to go each and every night. "
What held him back? "It was just the injury thing. It's recouping and just me mentally not wanting to do to much and me not wanting to come in and ruin the chemistry of the team because we were doing really well," Beal said. "When you get injured your biggest thing is to not get re-injured. ... Hopefully this is a new year and I don't have to worry about that."