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Morning tip: Adjustments for Wizards that worked best in Game 5 vs. Hawks

Morning tip: Adjustments for Wizards that worked best in Game 5 vs. Hawks

The Hawks had made their share of adjustments to get the series even with the Wizards, but Scott Brooks came up with his share of tweaks for a 103-99 win in Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead.

Game 6 is in Atlanta on Friday, and there are only so many different wrinkles that they can throw at each other as each team has held serve on their home floor. 

A look at the key ones that have taken place:

-- Doubling Paul Millsap. For the first time the Wizards did it. They got results as John Wall got the strip and a foul on Millsap and Beal came over for a block with 1:36 left

-- Bradley Beal running the offense. There hadn't been much of it, but there was more when he shared the floor with Brandon Jennings.

-- Jennings taking advantage of Jose Calderon. He stayed in front of Calderon rather than gambling for steals and actually got one for a quick layup by moving his feet laterally and staying in front of the 35-year-old backup. 

[RELATED: VIDEO: Wall throws down huge dunk vs. Hawks in Game 5]

-- Marcin Gortat vs. Millsap. For the second time in a fourth quarter, the big did the job on the power forward, including in space. Millsap shot 2-for-9 in the pivotal fourth. Gortat had to face DeMarcus Cousins in a similar situation and the Wizards beat the Kings despite Cousins' 36 points. It took him 34 shots. While Millsap is an All-Star, he's not as big as Cousins or Karl-Anthony Towns who Gortat also defended in similar situations.

-- Markieff Morris briefly at the five. It didn't last long because of foul trouble but he can match up with Dwight Howard as long as there's help defense. When the Wizards fell down 34-27, they soon tied it with a 7-0 run and Morris appeared for the tail end of the spurt. Howard didn't create any damage in the matchup. Morris did pick up his third foul and had to go to the bench but Gortat had returned to the game by then. That foul on Howard came on help and not 1 vs. 1. If Morris can avoid foul trouble, this can be a matchup that bears fruit. In Game 1, Howard was caught defending Morris away from the rim and was faced up off the dribble and he had to be taken off the floor.   

-- Wing action between Beal and Otto Porter. The two best three-point shooters on the team only need a slither of space to get off a high-percentage look from deep. Porter got two of them to start the third quarter. Beal and Bojan Bogdanovic had some in the fourth that produced Gortat's only field goal as the defense was preoccupied with them off the ball and didn't recongize Gortat's slip to the rim on Wall's drive. 

-- Kelly Oubre's ball pressure. It was disruptive in the fourth on the wing as he was used there instead of on the ball with Schroder. Tim Hardaway, Taurean Prince and Kent Bazemore combined to shoot 3-for-18 from the arc. Oubre finding his way onto Schroder could be coming in Game 6 to slow down the hot-handed point guard who made 5 of 6 three-pointers.

[RELATED: Wall's cape makes strong case for wildest outfit of playoffs]

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Are the Wizards waiting too long to choose a new team president?

Are the Wizards waiting too long to choose a new team president?

The Washington Wizards have operated throughout their search for a new team president with patience and for a while it appeared that approach had paid off, as they got close to filling the position over the weekend before Tim Connelly returned to Denver. That patience, though, could be put to the test very soon.

The NBA Combine is already in the books. So, unless they decide to promote interim president Tommy Sheppard, the person who will ultimately be making the call with the ninth overall pick on draft night will have been absent from the face-to-face interviews they conducted in Chicago, IL. It is not ideal, but by waiting this long clearly the Wizards have made peace with that.

They still have some time between now and the NBA global camp on May 30 and Wizards pre-draft workouts are not scheduled to begin until the first week of June. The draft is still about a month away and the deadline to extend qualifying offers to their restricted free agents is June 30. 

Whomever leads this team will need to decide on guys like Tomas Satoransky, Thomas Bryant and Bobby Portis. But still, there is time. 

What could throw the biggest wrench into the Wizards' timeline is the impending announcement of All-NBA teams. If Bradley Beal makes All-NBA, which the ballots that have been made public already suggest he has a very good chance to do so, he will be eligible for a supermax contract. 

That would present the Wizards with a complicated situation, one that wouldn't need to be settled overnight but would instantly become the most important story surrounding the team. 

A supermax for Beal is projected to be worth $194 million over four years and would start in the 2021-22 season. With John Wall already signed to a supermax contract, it would be difficult to afford both and still fill out the rest of a competitive roster. Two players would make 70-plus percent of the cap.

If the Wizards determine they can't pay both Beal and Wall long-term, something will have to give. It could lead to a trade.

Deciding on Beal's future, one could argue, may end up being one of the most important calls the Wizards' next team president will have to make in their entire career in Washington. And they would be faced with it as soon as they take the job.

Depending on the timing, the question could even define their introductory press conference. The new president and owner Ted Leonsis would certainly be asked about it.

That is all not to mention how the job could be viewed if Beal makes All-NBA before the position is filled. Anyone who takes the Wizards job will already be doing so with an understanding that it may take time to build a contender given Wall's contract and the fact he is coming off Achilles surgery.

On top of all that, there would be questions about whether the Wizards would offer Beal the contract and, if they offered it, whether he would take it. Beal already raised some doubt about whether he would accept the money, given he has already made plenty in his career and wants to win. 

That standoff could lead to a barrage of trade rumors, which can overshadow just about anything in today's NBA. Just ask the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Beal decision technically would not have to be made for months. If he makes All-NBA, he won't be able to sign the supermax until July 6, when the free agency moratorium ends. They can sign Beal to an extension all the way up until the day before the 2019-20 regular season begins.

But it could become a pressing issue very soon and before the Wizards' next team architect even takes the job.

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The Bradley Beal All-NBA Dilemma: How NBA execs would handle the big question facing the Wizards

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The Bradley Beal All-NBA Dilemma: How NBA execs would handle the big question facing the Wizards

“How do you get a player better than Brad if you trade Brad?”

That brain-busting question from a current NBA general manager came before the February 7 trade deadline when rumors involving Wizards guard Bradley Beal swirled.

Another migraine-inducing conundrum is forthcoming whether Beal receives All-NBA honors or not.

Should the league’s upcoming announcement of its first, second and third team include the two-time All-Star, the Wizards may have no choice but to break up the backcourt pairing with John Wall that fueled the franchise’s most sustained success since winning the 1978 title.

This honor comes with a financial reward-- if extended to Beal by the Wizards --  in the form of a supermax contract worth approximately $193 million over four years that would begin in 2021-22. He still has two years and $56 million remaining on the valued five-year, $127 million deal he signed in 2016.

The issue is less about Beal’s hefty chunk of the Wizards’ salary cap, but combining it with Wall’s four-year, $170 million supermax deal that begins next season. Offer Beal the supermax and, should he accept, approximately 71 percent of the team’s future salary cap beginning in the 2021-22 season would be chewed up by two players.

Beal and Wall, when healthy, are All-Stars. They’re not Jordan and Pippen.

NBC Sports Washington spoke with over a dozen league sources in recent weeks including three current or former general managers, other executives, NBA coaches, and scouts, about Beal’s contract situation and the Wizards’ overall equation coming off a 32-50 campaign.

Some dutifully tried putting themselves in the mindset of Washington’s next front office leader knowing Beal’s contract status and other limiting or uncertain factors.

The executives shared opinions on whether to boldly hold or sell high on the Wizards’ best player. Regardless of their stance, their initial instinct almost unanimously landed in the same place as this current lead executive: “I have no idea what you would do.”

*****

There’s an incredibly strong argument for doing nothing. How do you get a player better than Brad if you trade Brad?

Several NBA sources largely acknowledge the choice almost gets removed from the Wizards front office should Beal receive the All-NBA nod. Even if Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson or Ben Simmons trump Beal in the voting, events from early February may effectively force the Wizards’ hand.

Washington faced its second consecutive luxury tax payment, diminishing playoff hopes and the knowledge that Wall would miss the rest of the season with a heel injury.

Despite those negatives and salary cap concerns with only five players catapulting the team over next season’s salary cap, big picture hope existed. The headliners -- Wall, Beal and Otto Porter -- previously put the Wizards in a playoff contender mode. “We're not trading any of those players,” Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said at the time.

There’s a good reason to believe Leonsis meant what he said. Then life intervened and forced change.

Wall’s left Achilles ruptured during the first week of February. The recovery time means an entire calendar year and perhaps the full 2019-20 season. Those negatives, especially with the salary cap, were now amplified.

Washington dealt with that financial scenario two days after the Wall status update by trading Porter and Markieff Morris to slide under the luxury tax.

Another life event requiring a financial decision could happen soon.

*****

There’s no debating whether Beal is worthy of the All-NBA accolade. Some believe he is a favorite to snag one of the two guard spots on the third-team.

The dilemma is can the Wizards justify offering a contract with those hefty terms knowing what’s already on the books, plus the upcoming challenges.

Pass and the likelihood of trading Beal at peak value becomes a leading option. Hold Beal regardless and his trade value effectively decreases over the next two seasons with the possibility he leaves as a 2021 free agent without compensation.

“The Wizards is a hard job right now,” a former GM told NBC Sports Washington. “There’s a lot to figure out. Timelines can’t be certain with John Wall in particular. For Bradley Beal, that's a decision… Hard to walk in [to those interviews) with a specific plan.”

Leave the supermax contract off the table and the human element arises. Those familiar with Beal’s mindset do not see a Robin to Wall’s Batman. Co-headliners, cool, but then pay and appreciate accordingly. Maybe folks could start referring to the pair as Beal and Wall once in a while.

Forget the money, which isn’t Beal’s driving motivation. As one source familiar with Beal’s thinking stated, “Brad needs to be in the playoffs. He’s not disruptive...Brad just wants to win.”

The Wizards might not be in playoff position next season even if Beal maintains his All-NBA level. It's a near lock they won't if the 2012 first-round pick is traded.

Beal averaged 30.9 points in February, the same month he dropped a season-high 46 at Charlotte and his All-NBA buzz soared. Beal joined 2019 MVP finalist James Harden as the only players this season to average at least 25 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1.5 steals.

The wing guard’s leadership kept Washington tangibly in the playoff race until realities of the undermanned roster kicked in.

“I think [Brad is] an all-NBA player in my eyes,” said Wall, an All-NBA selection in 2016. “You know how tough it is to make that team? It’s always tough. The year he’s had speaks for itself.”

How do you trade that player especially one groomed by the organization since selecting him third overall in 2012? You can't -- but the Wizards might not have a choice.

Nobody recognizes this more than Bradley Beal.

"Honestly, I’m here until I’m not here," Beal told NBC Sports Washington earlier this month. "I’m not thinking too strong on it. My personal desire is to be here and see the direction we go. Hopefully, the correct direction.

"I keep hearing the possibility of rebooting, trading Brad and getting assets back. It’s a business. I understand both sides of it. I can’t be mad at it."

UP NEXT: Reasons for trading Bradley Beal

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