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Bradley Beal and the All-NBA team: how one decision impacts the Wizards' future

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Bradley Beal and the All-NBA team: how one decision impacts the Wizards' future

With the 2018-19 season in the rearview for the Washington Wizards, we at NBC Sports Washington are analyzing the five biggest questions of what should be the most consequential offseason they have had in years...

NO. 1: WILL BRADLEY BEAL QUALIFY FOR A SUPERMAX CONTRACT?

There are a handful of events this summer that could alter the course of the Wizards' franchise significantly moving forward. They will have a new general manager and possibly one from outside of the organization, someone who could prescribe wholesale changes. They have the sixth-best lottery odds and could luck into a top spot to net a future star.

But aside from winning the lottery on May 14 and landing Zion Williamson in June, nothing will have a more profound effect on the Wizards' future than the All-NBA announcement in late May. The league has not revealed a date yet, but it was May 24 last year, May 18 the year before and May 26 the year before that. Basically, by late May we will know if Bradley Beal made it for the first time in his career.

Beal has a chance for third team All-NBA and could get it if he earns more votes than guys like Kemba Walker of the Hornets, Ben Simmons of the Sixers, Devin Booker of the Suns and Klay Thompson of the Warriors. There are six spots and five essential locks: Stephen Curry of the Warriors, James Harden of the Rockets, Russell Westbrook of the Thunder, Damian Lillard of the Blazers and Kyrie Irving of the Celtics.

Some media ballots have already been released that show mixed results for Beal. Mike Singer of the Denver Post voted for Beal, while Paul Flannery of SB Nation did not

If Beal gets All-NBA honors, he will be eligible for a supermax contract. It wouldn't begin until the 2021-22 season, but it is projected to be worth $194 million over four years. His deal would start at over $40 million annually.

The Wizards already have John Wall signed to a supermax deal, which kicks in next season. He will be making $43.9 million in 2021-22. He and Beal would account for roughly three-quarters of the salary cap that season.

The Wizards could, in theory, sign Beal to a supermax and just deal with it later. They would have two full seasons before the contract begins. By then, Wall should be healthy and have at least a full year of games under his belt and maybe more if he returns next season.

But delaying the inevitable is not a sound strategy. If extending Beal backfires either as a singular move or in conjunction with Wall's deal, it could strap the franchise for many years to come. 

All of this makes a supermax offer in the event Beal becomes eligible potentially a decision so massive it could be the most important call the next GM makes in their entire tenure in Washington. And that GM may have to make that decision within months of taking the job.

There are many reasons why this situation is not simple. If Beal qualifies for the supermax, there is not a 100 percent guarantee the Wizards offer him one, given their future financial state. And even if they offer one, there is no certainty that Beal will take it. Though he has gone to extremes to say he wants to play the rest of his career in Washington, he has also left the door open for not accepting a supermax contract, with the caveat that he needs to learn more about the direction of the franchise

If either of those scenarios happen, if the Wizards do not offer the deal or Beal does not take it, that could effectively spell the end of his time in Washington. Both sides can say otherwise, but try telling fans that everything is okay if Beal turns down what could be an extra $80 million and moves one year closer to hitting free agency, or if Beal doesn't receive the offer at all and therefore is signaled that he isn't worth the money.

If Beal were eligible for a supermax and a new contract was not reached, that would almost certainly begin a saga of trade rumors that could last years. That's the way the NBA works these days and there will be no way to control the narrative.

Now, though that sounds like a worst-case scenario, it might not be for the Wizards. As long as Beal, who turns 26 in June, remains an All-Star talent and under contract, they have options. If they felt they had to trade him, they could get plenty of assets in return. It would just be a difficult and possibly ugly process to go through.

It all hinges on the All-NBA announcement. If Beal doesn't make the team, everyone moves on like nothing happened. If he does get it, everything changes for him, the Wizards and their offseason.

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Bol Bol

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Bol Bol

The Washington Wizards will have the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2019 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Bol Bol

School: Oregon
Position: Center
Age: 19
Height: 7-3
Weight: 208
Wingspan: 7-7
Max vertical: N/A

2018/19 stats: 21.0 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.8 spg, 2.7 bpg, 56.1 FG% (8.2/14.7), 52.0 3PT% (1.4/2.8), 75.7 FT%

Player comparison: Kristaps Porzingis, Thon Maker

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 12th, NBADraft.net 18th, Bleacher Report 9th, Sports Illustrated 17th, Ringer 12th

5 things to know:

*Bol has a chance to be perfectly suited for this era of NBA unicorns. He is over 7-feet tall, yet is highly skilled for his size. He can run the floor, make plays off the dribble and shoot from outside. He is also an adept shot-blocker with the instincts to maximize his height and length.

*Bol is the son of former Bullets player Manute Bol. His father was drafted by Washington in 1985 and played three seasons with the team to start his career. He later returned to play for the Bullets in 1993 for another year. The elder Bol was 7-foot-7 and is among the tallest players in NBA history. He famously was teammates with Muggsy Bogues, who stood just 5-foot-3.

*He only played in nine games with Oregon due to a stress fracture in his left foot. A stress fracture is always ominous for a basketball player, but especially for a big man. If it weren't for the injury, Bol would probably be in the top-five range. Whichever team takes him will be going high-risk, high-reward, not unlike the Nuggets with Michael Porter Jr. last June.

*Bol unsurprisingly turned heads at the NBA Combine. He measured in about 7-foot-3 and with a 7-7 wingspan. If it weren't for Tacko Fall, those each would have led this year's class. Bol also has a 9-foot-7 1/2-ing standing reach. That means he can nearly touch the rim without jumping.

*Perhaps the most interesting stat when it comes to Bol is his three-point shooting. Though it was a small sample size, he shot 52 percent from long range and on nearly three atempts per game. For a guy his size, having any sort of three-point shot is noteworthy and to shoot at that clip is exceptional, no matter the position. 

Fit with Wizards: Bol would be a great fit for the Wizards in some regards in that he plays a position of need and would offer star potential. He also would add rim protection, which the Wizards sorely lack. And it would be a nice story, Bol beginning his career with the same franchise that his father did.

But Bol is the type of risk that the Wizards may not be in position to take. They ideally would get someone who does not have injury concerns, someone who could step right in and represent a legitimate building block for the future. 

Maybe that changes if the Wizards' medical team gives him the clear. But Bol seems more likely to fit with the Wizards if they pull off a trade to adde more picks. If they moved back from ninth and got another first round selection, taking Bol wouldn't be nearly as risky.

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Tim Connelly won’t take top Wizards job, to stay in Denver

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Tim Connelly won’t take top Wizards job, to stay in Denver

There won’t be a Tim Connelly reunion with the Washington Wizards after all.

Connelly passed on the opportunity to become the Wizards President of Basketball Operations, and instead will remain in the same capacity with the Denver Nuggets, a source confirms to NBC Sports Washington. ESPN first reported on Connelly's decision.

Washington received permission to meet with Connelly late Thursday evening. He left the NBA Combine in Chicago and flew to Washington Friday for a discussion with Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, a source told NBC Sports Washington. On Friday, Connelly reportedly received the offer to fill the front office vacancy created by the firing of Ernie Grunfeld on April 2.

While the interest in the Wizards was genuine from the Baltimore native, Catholic University alum and former member of Washington's front office, Connelly could not leave the "stable" situation with significant promise in Denver, a source told NBC Sports Washington.  

Connelly, 41, was named Denver’s general manager in 2013. The Nuggets won 54 games and finished the 2018-19 regular season as the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. The roster, headlined by All-NBA center Nikola Jokic and guard Jamal Murray, is the second-youngest in the NBA. "Tough to give that up," the source said. "Too much to risk."

The Wizards are coming off a polar opposite campaign that ended with a 32-50 record. Significant uncertainty exists going forward with five-time All-Star John Wall expected to miss a large chunk of the 2019-20 season as his four-year, $170 million supermax contract extension kicks in.

Leonsis began a deliberative search process for a new President of Basketball Operations after dismissing Grunfeld, who held the position for 16 years.  While other candidates were interviewed during the process, including interim GM Tommy Sheppard, Connelly’s name was linked to the opening almost from the start.

Connelly considered Leonsis' handling of the discussions first class, according to a source.

Sheppard, former Hawks GM Danny Ferry and Thunder assistant GM Troy Weaver are the other known primary candidates.

In April, NBC Sports Washington first reported Connelly considered the Wizards his “dream job,” according to sources. The Catholic University alum began his NBA career as an intern with Washington in 1996 before holding various full-time front office positions under Grunfeld. He left for New Orleans in 2010.

The Wizards face significant challenges before re-entering contention in the Eastern Conference. With Wall injured, two-time All-Star Bradley Beal is the only healthy returning starter. 2018 first round pick Troy Brown Jr. is the only other valued long-term asset beyond the ninth overall selection in the 2019 NBA Draft,

More than half of last season’s roster is entering some form of free agency. Washington could have limited salary cap space depending on which players return.

The situation requires the kind of roster-shaping creativity Connelly demonstrated in Denver. The Wizards now must look elsewhere for their new front office leader.

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