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Judgment call: The impact of Wizards moving on from Devin Robinson

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Judgment call: The impact of Wizards moving on from Devin Robinson

Some quick big-picture thoughts on the Wizards moving on from Devin Robinson following the forward’s arrest early Saturday morning

The organization was swift with a statement upon learning of Robinson’s arrest: “We are aware of the incident this morning involving Devin and are disappointed in his actions. We will not extend him a qualifying offer for the 2019-20 season.”

This was a judgment call. Not by the Wizards, but Robinson, and his actions* overnight played a factor in the team’s decision.

(*The incident, a fight with Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills, led to the arrest of both men and Robinson needing medical attention at a local hospital. One report stating the incident stemmed from Robinson feeling that Mills shouldn’t be in DC since he doesn’t play for a Washington team is not accurate according to multiple sources close to the situation.)

The athletic, 6-foot-8 forward showed growth during his two years with the organization on a two-way contract. He averaged 19.9 points and 8.2 rebounds in 22 games this season for the Capital City Go-Go, Washington’s G-League affiliate. Robinson became the Wizards’ bounciest player following the December trade that sent Kelly Oubre Jr. to Phoenix. The intrigue led with those hops.

The Wizards’ roster is light on players under contract for the 2019-20 season. They must add some players on minimum deals based on their limited salary cap space. Washington’s other two-way player, Jordan McRae, received a non-guaranteed NBA contract for next season before the team’s final game of the regular season.

Robinson did not. While a path existed, sources familiar with the situation are not convinced the 2018 undrafted free agent would have remained with the organization regardless of his arrest.

The general plan centered on gauging Robinson for another summer before making a firm commitment.

The University of Florida product dealt with injuries during his time with Washington, including a hip ailment that kept Robinson off the court for several weeks this season. The slender 200-pound forward would have an offseason of workouts and the NBA Summer League to show whether he could hold up physically.

Robinson never made it that far. Regardless of whatever details emerge of the incident outside a Northwest Washington club may reveal, Robinson put himself in a difficult spot. Considering everything at stake, his questionable judgment moved the organization to take action.

Tommy Sheppard, Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations, is the interim leader of the Wizards’ front office following the dismissal of team president Ernie Grunfeld.

From the Wizards angle, there’s certainly frustration based on having worked with Robinson for two years, during which he only played eight NBA games. Assuming Washington does not pick up Jabari Parker’s $20 million team option, there is not a single forward on the current 2019-20 roster.

However, Robinson, 24, is a bit old for a true developmental player, and it was far from certain he would enter the rotation or make the roster next season.

Not built for banging inside, Robinson only shot 30.4 percent on 3-point attempts (24 of 79) with the Go-Go this season.  

Many players entering the 2019 NBA Draft are 3-5 years younger than Robinson. The Wizards, who do not have a second-round pick this year, are likely to add 1-2 undrafted free agents on two-way contracts if not the main roster, as they did with Daniel Ochefu, Sheldon Mac and Danuel House in 2016.

Maybe another summer with the team’s developmental staff unlocks another level for Robinson, whose jump-out-of-the-gym athleticism wowed onlookers. The Wizards need that skill set as they look to push the pace generally and specifically whenever John Wall returns from his ruptured Achilles. They will look for that element elsewhere this offseason. 

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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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Bradley Beal rooted for the Capitals to win the Stanley Cup, so now he deserves to see his hometown team win it this year

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Bradley Beal rooted for the Capitals to win the Stanley Cup, so now he deserves to see his hometown team win it this year

The St. Louis Blues defeated the San Jose Sharks Tuesday to reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1970, where they were eliminated by the Boston Bruins.

They will look to even the odds, as they will be taking on the Bruins yet again on Monday night.

Blues fan and St. Louis native Bradley Beal will hope that his hometown squad will take the cup from the reigning champs, the Washington Capitals, and win the matchup against the Bruins.

Beal cheered on the Caps just a year ago and is ready to show out for the surging Blues.

To really put it into perspective how long it has been since the Blues played for the Cup, take a look at the number one song in the country when these two teams faced off 49 years ago. 

The Blues besting the Bruins will be a challenge, and Beal will be ready to root for his squad until the final buzzer.

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