Bradley Beal cannot predict the future.
That means for his own career path and the next step for the general manager-less Washington Wizards. Yet the two-time All-Star has more insight than most trying to decipher the organization’s next step. Unlike outsiders scrutinizing crumbs of information, Beal speaks with the man running the show.
While the possible All-NBA selection spent a portion of his post-regular season downtime “relaxing,” Beal remains connected with Wizards ownership.
“Staying in the loop with Ted (Leonsis) as much as possible,” Beal told NBC Sports Washington Friday following his latest mentoring event with athletes from the Ron Brown College Prep High School.
Beal processed those conversations with Leonsis and determined the following.
“He’s definitely on thin ice with everybody,” Beal said of Leonsis. “He wants change and he wants it better.”
Leonsis began the process of evaluating the organization after firing longtime team president Ernie Grunfeld one month ago. Consultants were hired. Interviews with potential GM candidates including Tommy Sheppard, Danny Ferry and Troy Weaver began this week.
“For [Ted] to go through the process of hiring the search team, I think that in it of itself speaks to the seriousness behind it,” Beal said. “At the end of the day, it’s his team. He’s going to run the team as he says. All we can do is follow. I can just sense he wants a better environment.”
While the speculation focuses on the potential contenders, including Denver president Tim Connelly and perhaps a mystery entry or two, one major unknown is Leonsis’ mindset following the trying 32-50 season. Has reflection led him to seek massive changes in philosophy or subtle tweaks beyond the ouster of Grunfeld after 16 seasons?
The new GM hire will speak volumes. For now, the quiet is the “scary part” for Beal.
“In this business, anything is possible, anything can happen. We can get a new guy in here who has a totally different agenda then we may have (assumed) going forward,” Beal said. “You never know.. Just have to play it is you go and accept the fact that it’s a business, and be prepared for any situation.”
.@RealDealBeal23 holding a round table discussion with students from Ron Brown Prep School. Brad stressing the importance of getting good grades. #DCFamily #NBACommunityAssist #NBA pic.twitter.com/LU3z4oJAIv— Chris Miller 🎥🎙🏀 (@cmillsnbcs) May 3, 2019
For Beal, 25, that could mean two distinct paths. Remain the driving force on-court of the only NBA organization he’s known or become the centerpiece of a trade should a new voice push for draft picks and younger assets.
He set career-highs in scoring (25.6), rebounding (5.0) and assists (5.5) while playing in all 82 regular season games for a second consecutive and providing true leadership on and off the court. Contending teams would pay a premium his talents. The Wizards might determine they cannot let Beal go regardless of almost any reasonable haul.
Beal possibly earning a supermax contract by virtue of selection to one of the three All-NBA teams would add major financial wrinkle for an organization already paying the injured John Wall $170 million over the next four seasons.
Though Beal delivered a strong campaign, the team floundered throughout and missed the postseason for only the second time in six years.
“I think we let a year go by. We kind of wasted a year,” said Beal, who is one of a small handful of players under contract for the 2019-20 season.
“At the same time, the bright side is we have an opportunity to build up a team now,” Beal continued. “It’s scary to think we have nine free agents and everything like that, but we still have a great opportunity to be able to do something big this summer, make some moves and get some guys in here and try to turn this thing around.”
Beal’s sustained efforts with the students at Ron Brown led to him being named a finalist for the season-long NBA Cares Community Assist Award.
The latest direct opportunity with members of the boy’s basketball and football team took occurred Friday. Beal showed his ball skills at a bowling alley next to Capital One Arena after leading a panel discussion focused on academics held at the team’s practice facility in Ward 8.
Though he primarily avoided basketball talk even when prompted – “I want to stick to the academics and consistency part. Hoops is the easy part.” – Beal emphasized the point of teamwork. In doing so, he circled back to the Wizards’ woes.
“Sacrifice. You can’t go out there shooting the ball every time. You can’t go out there pouting about not getting the ball. You can’t complain about not getting the ball,” Beal said. “There’s only one basketball and five of y’all. The object of the game is to stop them from scoring and we do whatever it takes to score.
“Stop first, then score. That was our problem. We could score 100 points, but we couldn’t stop anybody.”
Defense is yet another angle the next general manager must consider. Beal awaits word on the next hire while remaining prepared for any situation.
Fans can vote for the NBA community assist award via Twitter and other platforms through Sunday.
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