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Beal handles first NBA practice in stride

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Beal handles first NBA practice in stride

Even a veteran of the NBA life like Wizards 52-year-old head coach Randy Wittman admitted to some tossing and turning the night before the first day of training camp. As for 19-year-old Bradley Beal, the talented guard drafted to knock down 3's, his sleep was all about getting Z's."I didnt have any trouble at all."There's the pressure of being the third overall selection in the NBA Draft. There's the reality that less than two years ago he was playing in high school and is just a handful of months removed from the college scene - and yet Tuesday's first practice was just that, practice."It was fine. It was just like any other practice," said Beal, talking with the media on the Patriot Center court at George Mason University minutes after his first professional training camp workout."I wasnt nervous. I didnt come in nervous. Its just a normal thing. I came in to work hard and prove myself, just keep battling and try to earn my spot."The largely no-contact practice still involved plenty of running as Wittman ran the team through various offensive sets. The sweat that poured off Beal's head as he recapped the day in front of reporters and camera came from on-court effort, not stress.

"It was pretty good. It was fun to get up and down with the guys, just seeing everybody perform with energy, guys competing. No contact, really. It was a still a good time," Beal said.Call it youthful unawareness; call it being mature beyond his years, but once again Beal's composure, a trait exhibited during the Las Vegas summer league presented itself - and in a scenario where the battles for playing time are no mere exhibitions. "Very talented. Im impressed with his poise," Jannero Pargo said. Signed by the Wizards on Monday, Pargo played alongside Beal on the de facto second unit during the portion of practice open to the media. "I think a lot of rookies come in and they press and try too hard," said Pargo, himself a veteran of eight previous NBA campaigns. "It seemed like he took his time and went hard when it was time to go hard and he looked pretty good."Beal, he of the textbook jumper, also made an impression with his play."He can shoot the ball. He can really shoot the ball," said Trevor Ariza, part of the half-dozen new guys on the roster including the Florida Gator product. "Hes ready to play. He can play."The when Beal plays and for how often is yet to be determined, though early indications point to the Wizards keeping him within the confines of the familiar shooting guard role even with John Wall's injury."Nobody needs to be anything more than they are," Wittman said. "This team wasn't build solely based on one player to carry us. We're seeing it. Opportunities might expand from a playing situation. We just got to worry about Bradley being Bradley, being a rookie coming into this situation seeing how much he can handle seeing how much he can't handle before we get into deciding to thrust somebody further along that we need to be."Though comfortable with the ball in his hands, Beal is on the same page when it comes to his initial role."It shouldnt change at all," Beal said. "We still have other point guards here, and we just have to keep moving forward. Theyre pretty different than John, but thats something youve got to adjust to. Things happen in the game, injuries happen so you just have to keep moving forward."Like the rest of the roster, Beal arrived physically ready for the rigors of camp - Wittman stated he was "impressed with our conditioning." Unlike many in his age range, Beal grasps that the physical component is only part of the equation for success on the highest level."Ive been faced with this situation almost all my life. Ive always had to grow up faster than what I am. Im mentally prepared for that, honestly," Beal said. "Ive always been like that. Im humble, and guys always say I act older than what I am so I always keep that mentally and make sure everything is focused and serious. Its a business so if I have to grow up fast, like everybody wants me to, Im willing to do that."For the record, there was at least one tumble in the rookie's day. As the media shuffled into the stands overlooking the court, all eyes noticed in the flow a play the 6-foot-4 guard falling, hitting the hardwood and then staying down for an extra beat or two. Before any heartbeats were elevated, Beal hoped back up and carried on, no worse for wear."I tripped over the line," he later joked. "As soon as you guys walked in, I guess I got nervous. I get a coupon this time, but it wont happen again."We'll call it a slip. Certainly had little to do with nerves.

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

The 2018 NBA offseason in just three weeks has become one of the wildest summers in the league's history between LeBron James signing with the Lakers, and all the characters that followed him, to DeMarcus Cousins surprising everyone to sign with the Golden State Warriors, to Kawhi Leonard getting traded to the Raptors.

As crazy as it all has been, two teams in the Eastern Conference stand out for so far doing very little, either by choice or circumstance. The Celtics and Sixers, the two teams most see as the favorites in the East, appear at least so far to be running it back with the same group of players.

This appears to be the Celtics' intention. After overhauling their roster last summer, they clearly see an opportunity to take a step forward as-is. Boston was one win away from the NBA Finals and will return Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving from injury. With James gone to the West, they can improve significanly just by keeping it all together.

Boston re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes. Their biggest addition this summer so far has been their first round pick, Robert Williams.

The Sixers, unlike the Celtics, didn't appear to plan on doing it this way. They wanted James and missed out. They reportedly had interest in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, but both went elsewhere. There are no stars left to sign in free agency and the trade market may be drying up.

Philly made some minor moves like trades for Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala. They may also have a deal for Kyle Korver in the works. They also had two first round picks in Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet.

There's a chance the Sixers got better than people think, as many of the moves they made seem smart. But they didn't reel in a big fish and will probably come back for the 2018-19 season with a team very similar to the one that made the second round of the playoffs this spring.

The fact the Celtics and Sixers may stand pat is probably a good thing for the rest of the East. Both teams may improve naturally if they are healthier and if their young players continue to ascend. But neither made a game-changing addition, one that would solidify either as an unstoppable superteam in the conference. 

The West is overloaded with title contenders and All-NBA players. The East, meanwhile, is much more open and it may end up staying that way mainly because Boston and Philly have been quiet so far this summer.

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Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld has stayed relatively busy this summer crafting his new-look lineup for the 2018-19 season. 

One of the team's key additions, Dwight Howard, is set to be introduced as a member of the Wizards on Monday. 

NBC Sports Washington will air the introductory press conference live at 1 p.m. while also streaming it online.  

Ernie Grunfeld and head coach Scott Brooks are both expected to be in attendance. 

The 32-year-old big man is coming off a 2017-18 season with the Charlotte Hornets in which he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. 

Since leaving the Orlando Magic after eight seasons in 2011, Howard has played for four different teams in the last six years. 

Howard is an eight-time all-star and a three-time defensive player of the year. 

 

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John Wall's take on Dwight Howard 

Wizards make Dwight Howard free agent signing official 

By the numbers: Is new Wizards center Dwight Howard still in his NBA prime?