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Why Bradley Beal remains 'confident' about contract extension


Why Bradley Beal remains 'confident' about contract extension

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."

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Potential coaching staff changes rocket into discussion for Wizards

Potential coaching staff changes rocket into discussion for Wizards

We can begin free agent watch with the Washington Wizards way before July 1.

This isn’t about players. Coaching changes can happen whenever.

News broke Saturday out of Houston that the Rockets would not retain associate head coach Jeff Bzdelik. Considered one of the league’s top defensive minds, Bzdelik’s relationship with Scott Brooks along with comments made by the Wizards head coach at the NBA Combine makes this transaction interesting.

Bzdelik, 66, gave Brooks his first NBA coaching job when the then Denver Nuggets head coach hired the former player in 2003.

"I'm thankful for coach Bzdelik," Brooks told the Houston Chronicle in 2016.  "He gave me my first NBA coaching start. One of the best coaches I've ever been around. He has great understanding of the game, both ends of the floor.”

Fast forward to Thursday inside Chicago’s Quest Multisport facility. Amid 5-on-5 games involving 2019 draft prospects, players holding court with media members and the general convention vibe that comes with the NBA Combine, Brooks spent a few minutes chatting with reporters.

Among the non-draft or general manager search topics, whether any changes to the coaching staff were forthcoming.

"I’ve talked to Ted. I definitely talked Ted,” Brooks began his reply, referencing Wizards owner Ted Leonsis. “I have a lot of respect for our organization. I have to get better, first and foremost…Will the staff remain the same? Every year, staffs change. Every year staffs change. We're probably going to make some changes. I don't know if it's for sure. Everything is still up in the air.”

Brooks also noted change could come from members of his staff seeking opportunities elsewhere. Tony Brown, Brooks’ lead assistant during his three seasons with the Wizards, became a coaching free agent following Washington’s 32-50 season, according to NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller.

Two days after Brooks’ comments came news of Bzdelik’s exit in Houston.

Bzdelik, a former Bullets assistant from 1988-94 and three-time college head coach, retired following the 2017-18 season. He returned to the Rockets in November following Houston’s slow start. The associate head coach is credited with guiding the team’s defensive improvement as the Rockets rose up the Western Conference standings.

The Houston Chronicle reported Bzdelik, whose contract expired after this season, remained uncommitted to returning. The Rockets announced Saturday they would not renew his deal.

The Wizards do not want a repeat of their defensive struggles. Only the Atlanta Hawks allowed more points per game than the 116.9 Washington surrendered last season. The Wizards ranked 28th in opponent field goal percentage (48.0) and 27th in 3-point shooting percentage (37.0).

It’s unclear how the Wizards fix those defensive concerns based solely on personnel. The current roster with five healthy players does not include any forwards or mobile big men. Point guard John Wall is expected to miss the majority of the upcoming season following February’s surgery for a ruptured Achilles. Wall, an erratic defensive presence in recent seasons, was previously selected to the NBA’s all-defensive team in 2015.

Coaching strategies could become the primary driver of change on the defensive end. The man who brought Brooks into the coaching fraternity would make for an obvious addition if both sides are interested.

"The accountability that [Jeff] taught me with the coaching staff and the players is second to none,” Brooks told the Chronicle in 2016. “I learned about work. I learned how to transfer my playing career into a coaching career with his help."

News of the next front office leader likely comes before coaching staff tweaks.

Nuggets President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly was offered the same position with the Wizards Saturday after Denver granted Washington permission to meet. In the interim, the Wizards sent a contingent of scouting personnel along with Brooks to Chicago as the team conducted player interviews and watched scrimmages.

“Ted is going to make a decision and I trust that I going to be the best for the program moving forward,” Brooks said Thursday. “As of right now, (interim GM Tommy Sheppard) is doing a great job leading the group. We all feel comfortable with what’s going on. Hopefully, things work out and we move forward as an organization. We all have to get better, myself included.”


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Five things to know about Wizards general manager search candidate Tim Connelly

Five things to know about Wizards general manager search candidate Tim Connelly

The Washington Wizards have reportedly offered their vacant general manager position to Tim Connelly. The news was first reported by the Athletic.

Here are five things to know about him...

1. Connelly is a Baltimore native who transferred to Catholic University in D.C. during his junior year in college, graduating from there in 1999. 

2. Connelly began his NBA front office career with the Wizards, starting as an intern in 1996. He spent a decade with the organization, holding such roles as assistant video coordinator, head scout, and director of player personnel. 

3. After leaving the Wizards, Connelly spent three seasons serving as the assistant general manager of the New Orleans Pelicans. 

4. Connelly joined the Nuggets organization in 2013 as the executive vice president of basketball operations. He was promoted to President of Basketball Operations in 2017. Connelly has been part of a Denver front office that has drafted the likes of Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Gary Harris over the last five years. 

5. Connelly has six siblings, including four brothers: Joe, Pat, Dan and Kevin. All four of them have also worked in basketball in some capacity, Joe, Pat, and Dan all following Tim into the NBA ranks.