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'Sincere interest': Latest on Pelicans exploring trade for Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal

'Sincere interest': Latest on Pelicans exploring trade for Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal

While the Washington Wizards struggled defensively last season, the organization is holding firm when it comes to rebuffing offers for Bradley Beal.

The New Orleans Pelicans showed sincere interest in the two-time All-Star before Saturday’s blockbuster that sent Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers. That curiosity remains and the two sides broadly discussed a trade scenario involving Beal, multiple sources told NBC Sports Washington.

The Pelicans are open to dealing the newly acquired fourth overall selection in Thursday’s NBA Draft according to numerous reports. New Orleans also landed three young players from Los Angeles -- Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart -- plus additional future picks and pick swaps.

Whatever the initial parameters, the conversation never veered close to actual negotiations, according to a source.

The basis for trading Beal centers on maximizing his asset value with two years and $56 million remaining on his original five-year contract signed in 2016. Washington likely struggles next season with fellow guard John Wall out and an evolving roster that currently has only five players with guaranteed contracts.

This one rejection does not mean Washington has completely shut the door on future talks with teams. However, the sense from league sources is the team plans on keeping Beal despite ample interest from contenders.

Beal, who turns 26 this month, just completed a near All-NBA season in which he and MVP candidate James Harden were the only players to average 25 points, five rebounds, five assists and 1.5 steals per game. The ascending talent is the lone healthy starter on the roster with Wall sidelined until 2020 with a torn Achilles.

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Wizards release statement on the passing of John Wall's mother

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Wizards release statement on the passing of John Wall's mother

The Washington Wizards announced the passing of John Wall's mother, Frances Pulley on Friday. 

Wall's mother had been battling cancer before her passing. She was 58. 

In a statement on Twitter, the Wizards said, "Sending thoughts and love for John Wall and his family after the passing of his mother, Frances Pulley. She will forever be a part of our #DCFamily."

Zach Leonsis, the senior vice president of strategic initiatives at Monumental Sports & Entertainment, also released a statement

"Thinking of @JohnWall and his family right now. Keeping you guys in our prayers. So terribly sorry for your loss and know that she will be remembered forever. #DCFamily

Wall's Kentucky coach, John Calipari also expressed his condolences for his former star: 

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Bradley Beal sees a young John Wall in the Grizzlies rookie sensation Ja Morant

Bradley Beal sees a young John Wall in the Grizzlies rookie sensation Ja Morant

WASHINGTON -- It is not often you see a rookie find initial success in the NBA to the degree Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant has, already with borderline All-Star numbers at the age of 20. And oftentimes, opponents are careful throwing out player comparisons for guys his age, wanting to see more before they anoint anyone.

Morant, though, is a different case and questions from media members at Wizards practice this week as the team gets set to face him for the first time naturally led to parallels to great players. On Thursday, Brooks brought up unprompted how much Morant reminds him of Russell Westbrook, his former player in Oklahoma City.

And on Friday, Bradley Beal invoked a teammate of his when breaking down what makes Morant so good.

"He loves to get up and down. He's really fast with the ball. It reminds you of John [Wall] in a lot of ways. He plays with his pace," Beal said.

Through 19 games this season, Morant is averaging 18.7 points, 6.4 assists and 1.3 steals per game. He is shooting 42.2 percent from three on 2.2 attempts.

The threes have been surprising to most, as he shot a relatively modest 36.3 percent his final year in college at Murray State. But also surprising maybe just how lethal he has been at attacking the rim.

Sure, that was a big part of his game in college. But this is the NBA where athletes are much bigger and stronger. And he isn't the biggest guy either, weighing in at 175 pounds according to Basketball-Reference.

But despite lacking in size, he has shown an ability to finish through contact rarely seen from any player.

"I think he has a no-fear type of mentality. So, you have to respect his aggressiveness," Beal said. "He'll get respect from a lot of players in the league, a lot of refs in the league because of his aggressiveness and... with all the posters he has. So, he's an assassin. You gotta respect his game."

Beal likely won't draw the defensive assignment on Morant. That will probably go to Ish Smith and back-up point guard Chris Chiozza, who is with the team while Isaiah Thomas recovers from a left calf injury.

Beal knows it is going to be tough for the whole Wizards team to contain Morant. He said the trick will be trying to stay in front of him, though he knows that is easier said than done.

Really, Morant is such a unique player that the Wizards can only gameplan and prepare so much until they actually experience facing him for the first time.

"He's gonna be a handful," Beal said.

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