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Beal: 'I have too many people in my ear'

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Beal: 'I have too many people in my ear'

It’s probably safe to say that in all of his years of playing basketball, whether it was on the playgrounds of St. Louis or the University of Florida, Bradley Beal has never gone seven straight quarters without making a field goal.

At least not until now.

In his first two games in the NBA, the Wizards’ 19-year-old rookie has taken just 13 shots and has made two of them – a pair of 3-pointers early in the Wizards’ opening night loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
 
Taken third overall by the Wizards in 2012 NBA draft, Beal said Tuesday there are plenty of reasons for his slow start but made it clear his age isn’t one of them. At 19 years and 124 days, Beal became the seventh-youngest player in NBA history to start a season opener.

“I don’t use age or being a rookie as an excuse,” Beal said. “It’s a great honor, honestly, and not a lot of people are in the position I’m in.”

One of the biggest challenges of being an NBA rookie is keeping your inner circle small and sorting through the opinions of those outside the game -- like those from family and friends.

The third of Bobby and Besta’s five sons, Beal lives in Arlington with his two older brothers, Bruce and Brandon. And like everyone else Beal surrounds himself with, they have their opinions on why the 6-foot-4, 207-pound shooting guard is having so much trouble scoring.

“You always have people who think they know the answers to everything,” Beal said. “People texting me and calling me. ‘You gotta do this; you gotta do this.’

“I have too many people in my ear, so I have to eliminate that and keep my circle small and focus on what the team needs to do and what I need to do. I know a lot of people want me to do this, this and this, but that’s not important to me. We're trying to get wins. We’re 0-2 so we have to figure out how to get wins and the outside people need to stay on the outside.”

Strong words for a 19-year-old rookie who is just now starting to feel the demands of being a professional athlete. Those demands include dealing with a veteran coach who is a stickler for details.

“I learned Day One I can’t do everything that Trevor Ariza does or John Wall does,” Beal said. “Sometimes coaches know your bad habits. Coach [Wittman] is on my butt all the time and I don’t have a problem with it because he knows I can be better and he knows I can accept his criticism.”

Following his two-point evening Saturday night against the Celtics, Wittman broke down tapes of the game and showed Beal how his lack of aggressiveness cost him chances to create offense, play tight defense and grab loose rebounds.

“At first I thought I was doing good and everything was going good,” Beal said. “But then he showed me film and film doesn’t lie.”

Beal said he’s getting accustomed to Wittman’s attention to detail.

“He’s on my butt all the time, every practice,” Beal said. “It may be for a small thing like when a shot goes up he wants everybody back [on defense]. He’ll just stop practice and snap. But it keeps me in a good habit and keeps me working on things he wants me to do at a young age. I’m going to respect that and do what he wants.”

Beal’s learning curve has been accelerated by the absence of Wall, who is expected to remain sidelined until the end of November with a stress injury to his right knee. Clearly, the Wizards will need him to produce more than he has in his first two games if they hope to keep their heads above water until Wall returns.

Beal says the scoring will come once he starts feeling less pressure and starts having more fun on the floor, something he says has been lacking.

“I think I’m losing sight of what’s important, which is having fun,” he said. “Throughout all my years of playing ball I’ve always had fun, laughing on the court and having a blast.

“But I haven’t been doing it the last two games because I’ve been distracted with other things I shouldn’t be distracted by. I’m the one that has to change. It’s not anybody else’s fault but mine.”

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Wizards new GM Tommy Sheppard called Dwight Howard trade 'quickest trade I've ever done'

Wizards new GM Tommy Sheppard called Dwight Howard trade 'quickest trade I've ever done'

In early July, the Wizards dealt Dwight Howard to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for C.J. Miles. According to an interview with Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, new Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard didn't need much time to move on.

The Howard deal was "the quickest trade I've ever done in my life," Sheppard told Wojnarowski.

It was also a proving ground for Sheppard to show owner Ted Leonsis he could lead a new regime for the Wizards.

"I like [Sheppard's] dexterity to be able to deal with the existing NBA, but to also really look at it as a global enterprise," Leonsis noted.

Howard was signed to the Wizards in 2018 to a two-year, $11 million free-agent deal, and immediately made a lasting impact, including jokes about how he learned to be a Wizard after a circuitous NBA career.

Trading him away was a signal that Sheppard was trying to reset of the Wizards culture.

But since then, Tommy Sheppard has had his interim tag removed to mark him as the new GM of the organization. 

Sheppard's moves before he was named GM included not only the Howard deal, but also leading the Wizards' draft night where they selected Rui Hachimura and Admiral Schofield, as well as signing Isaiah Thomas to a one-year deal.

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Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard plans to offer Bradley Beal 3-year max contract extension, per report

Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard plans to offer Bradley Beal 3-year max contract extension, per report

Tommy Sheppard isn't wasting any time. The Washington Wizards' new general manager said the team will offer All-Star Bradley Beal a three-year, $111 million maximum contract extension Friday, when the guard becomes eligible to sign, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday

Once the offer is made, 26-year-old Beal will have until October 21 to sign the extension, which would begin with the 2021-22 season. He is coming off the best season of his career, averaging 25.6 points, 5.5 assists and five rebounds. 

More from Wojnarowski and ESPN:

There are moments in a career where there are big decisions to make, and Brad will work through everything and figure out the right thing to do," [agent Mark] Bartelstein told ESPN. "There are nothing but great feelings for Ted [Leonsis], Tommy and Scott [Brooks]. They've treated Brad wonderfully.

The news of the planned offer comes three days after NBC Sports Washington confirmed the Wizards are planning to announce Sheppard as the official new GM after months of working under the interim tag. 

The Wizards are also willing to offer Beal a one- or two-year extension as well, and if he passes altogether, the team does not have current plans to trade him, Sheppard told ESPN. 

Beal has two years and $55.8 million left on his contract. Should he be an All-NBA player in the 2019-20 season, he could become eligible for a five-year, $254 million supermax extension at this time next year. Without that stipulation, he's still eligible for a four-year, $155 million max extension next summer.

More per ESPN:

He's got two years left on his deal, and he's from Missouri and we are going to have to show him," Sheppard told ESPN. "We need to show him that we are about building this the right way, that we aren't going to have character-deficient guys around him. We are going to surround him with guys he wants to play with. He saw that right away in free agency with us bringing back Thomas Bryant.

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