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If the Knicks miss out on Kyrie Irving, could they target Bradley Beal?

If the Knicks miss out on Kyrie Irving, could they target Bradley Beal?

The Knicks' plans to court Kyrie Irving may be thwarted by the other team in their city. New reporting by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski links the Celtics free agent with the Brooklyn Nets.

If Irving did choose the Nets over his other summer suitors, that would leave a hole in the Knicks' plans to bring in multiple stars with the hope of contending for a title next season. 

None of this would concern the Wizards unless the Knicks decided to hunt for an alternative star guard on the trade market, which could lead them to Bradley Beal. 

Consider this bit of prescient analysis, from NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig several weeks ago. 

New York likely would want to wait for Kevin Durant to sign in free agency as the long-running rumors suggest. Then the question is who gets the second max slot.

Kyrie Irving? Certainly possible. We know the Celtics are out. One source said don't sleep on the Nets getting involved.

Kemba Walker is a New York native. The All-NBA candidate is also someone the Hornets might do whatever it costs to keep.

There's also Beal, who would make a great fit next to a fellow perimeter threat in Durant.

The Knicks' assets include the third pick in 2019, which is a projected tier above the fourth slot since it means landing no less than Duke guard RJ Barrett. New York also has impressive rookie center Mitchell Robinson, point guard Dennis Smith and an unprotected first-round pick from Dallas that projects to convey in 2021.

If the Knicks decline to part with Robinson and three, the Wizards would have to consider Barrett, the top recruit in the 2018 class and Duke's leading scorer, a future All-Star. They might.

Beal—who did not make the All-NBA teams despite averaging 25.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 5.5 assists this season—would make an attractive option for any team seeking a guard who's both a bonafide star and still has room to grow. 

But why would Washington even consider moving a home-grown talent like Beal when they're not faced with the spectre of paying him a supermax contract?

If the Wizards believe they are multiple years away from contending for a title, Beal's prime might not be as valuable to them as it would be to a team that's going for broke next season. 

And, in turn, a rookie's development might line up better with the timeline of the Wizards' rebuild. Especially if that rookie is a near-certain star like Barrett. 

How such a trade would happen is complicated by Washington's front-office vacancy. Interim president Tommy Sheppard has filled in for Ernie Grunfeld since his dismissal and is likely to make decisions for the team on draft night

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Scott Brooks practices tough love in benching, calling out Moe Wagner

Scott Brooks practices tough love in benching, calling out Moe Wagner

WASHINGTON -- Wizards head coach Scott Brooks has shown some different traits this season, now that his primary goal is player development. He has been much more willing to both bench players within games and then afterward offer harsh assessments as to why.

Second-year big man Moe Wagner got that treatment on Sunday night in the Wizards' 135-119 loss to the L.A. Clippers. After starting the game and playing 14 minutes in the first half, he played three minutes in the second half.

And during his postgame press conference, Brooks didn't mince his words when offering an explanation.

"His head wasn't in the game," Brooks said. "When you're a young player, you've gotta lock in. You have to do what we need to be done. We talked about it. We talked about it at halftime and he didn't want to do it."

Brooks has employed a similar strategy with other young players. Both Troy Brown Jr. and Rui Hachimura have been benched and then criticized publicly, albeit to different degrees.

In the past, Brooks has stopped short of publicly calling out players, particularly veterans and stars. But clearly he sees this as a tactic that can help light a fire under young players who have not yet established themselves in the NBA.

Wagner, for one, didn't take issue with Brooks' assessment.

"He's not wrong," Wagner told NBC Sports Washington. "I didn't have the energy I usually have... I think that's the biggest thing when you're young, the consistent effort and the consistency of doing your job. It's easy to do it every other night, but you have to do it every night."

Wagner's numbers weren't awful on Sunday. He had seven points and six rebounds and was 2-for-2 from three. 

But he had some head-scratching moments on defense and seemed to flop looking for fouls at times when he may have been more impactful playing within the team's defensive system.

"[I need to] do the easy things right. Just do your simple job. Don't overdo it. Don't do crazy stuff out there," Wagner said.

Wagner, 22, is playing heavy rotation minutes for the first time. Last year with the Lakers, he only appeared in 43 games and averaged 10.4 minutes per night. He is learning on the fly how to find consistency at the NBA level.

The good news for Wagner is that Brooks doesn't have much of a choice whether to play him. With Thomas Bryant out for at least a few weeks due to injury, he is the best center on the roster. 

But Brooks dropped a line that should serve as a warning to Wagner, that nothing is guaranteed, even in the situation the Wizards are currently in.

"I don't believe in doghouses, I believe in a fair house. If he doesn't do what we need, we move on to the next guy," Brooks said. 

"Everybody deserves that opportunity that works hard every day in practice. Next man up. Hopefully he will come back and be locked in against the Hornets. And he will."

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Scott Brooks, Bradley Beal rip officiating after loss to Clippers

Scott Brooks, Bradley Beal rip officiating after loss to Clippers

WASHINGTON -- Wizards head coach Scott Brooks and guard Bradley Beal have a general policy when it comes to answering questions about officiating. Usually, they avoid details because they don't want to be fined by the league. Often, they say plenty with what they leave unsaid.

Sunday night was not one of those times. After the Wizards' 135-119 loss to the Clippers, both the coach and player broke character, rolled their sleeves up and gave the refs a good old fashioned takedown.

Brooks went first and initially said (sarcastically) the officials got all the calls right in the game. After that, he said what he was really thinking.

"When they grab you and hold you and the rules are saying you've got to call a foul, that's a foul. We don't get that. [Bradley Beal] doesn't get that and it's frustrating," Brooks said.

"The rule is you can't grab a guy with two hands. It's not my rule, it's not their rule; it's the NBA rule. If they're not going to call those more, what are we going to do? We're gonna get frustrated, we're gonna get [technicals] and that's not fair. That's not fun for the coaches, that's not fun for the players, that's not fun for everybody."

Beal, who 20 points and five assists but shot 5-for-18 from the field, didn't hold back, either. And he even explained why he felt he had to speak up this time as opposed to other games when he has been more tight-lipped.

"Honestly, [my frustration] is out the roof. It really is. It's really unfair and unacceptable that they allow a lot of stuff to go on with me out there and I do not calls. Period. It's just unacceptable," he said.

"They fine us for saying something. When we do say something on the floor it's 'oh, I didn't see it' or 'it wasn't my call.' I'm just so tired of hearing that. There's three guys out here. I know nobody's perfect, but the blatant ones have to be called and they're not being called. That s--- ain't fair."

Brooks got a technical for arguing a first-half play he thought should have been a charge taken by Moe Wagner. Davis Bertans and Ish Smith, two of the Wizards' more mild-mannered players, also got T'd up.

Brooks thought Smith getting a technical embodied the evening perfectly.

"When Ish [Smith] gets a [technical foul], I know something's going on. That guys is the nicest guy on the planet. He gets a technical by just telling a referee to call it the same on the other end," Brooks said.

Beal was not assessed a technical, though he said he was appreciative of Smith and Bertans sticking up for him. He also said he feels like the lack of respect from referees has been worse this year and suggested the Wizards aren't getting the respect other teams like the Clippers do because of their 7-15 record.

To be fair, the numbers didn't exactly back up those claims on Sunday. The Wizards had 30 free throw attempts, three more than L.A. did. And Beal led all players with nine. He made all nine of them. Beal is also ninth in the NBA in free throw attempts at 7.2 per game, up from his average last season of 5.5.

This was, though, clearly something that had built over a series of games. And the Wizards are averaging the fifth-fewest free throw attempts per game this season at just 20.4 per contest. The Clippers, for comparison, are fourth in the NBA at 26.2.

But when the Wizards are in a close game with a team like the Clippers, who have way more talent than they do, it is hard for them to accept when they feel the referees aren't giving them a fair chance.

And for Brooks, it was particularly bad for Beal, whom he says "gets held all the time." And it's bad for rookie Rui Hachimura, who made all seven of his free throw attempts but should have had more if you ask his head coach.

"He attacks and he gets zero free throws. I understand nobody knows him, but we know him. That doesn't mean anything. You should be able to get to the free throw line with the way he attacks," Brooks said.

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