There have been many times before where trade rumors circulated around Bradley Beal and his future with the Wizards, but there are certainly reasons to believe this time is different and more serious. So, it was coincidental timing for Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard to hold his predraft press conference, just one day before the draft but amid a firestorm of speculation.
Sheppard calmly deflected any concern over Beal possibly wanting out, which was no surprise. It should be noted he did the exact same thing last year, in a press conference before free agency. That was when John Wall was rumored to be potentially on his way to Houston. Sheppard shut down those rumors, too, and then traded Wall to Houston.
It's always worth keeping in mind the duties and motivations of a general manager. Even if they want to tell the truth, sometimes they can't when it affects potential leverage in a deal.
Sheppard, though, answered every question fans may want to know. He confirmed Beal has not requested a trade, which isn't necessarily news given NBC Sports Washington and others had reported as much earlier this week. But the fact it was said on Wednesday is noteworthy because it means nothing has changed in the leadup to the draft, which was proposed as a deadline of sorts for Beal to decide by initial reports.
Sheppard reiterated he continues to speak with Beal on a regular basis and nothing trade-related has been discussed. He saw him in person earlier this month at Team USA's training camp in Las Vegas and has been in contact with Beal over the phone in recent days.
"We had a great time [in Vegas], caught up. We talked about our coaching staff. Everything else to me, the outside noise is just noise. I don't comment on rumors or anything. I just know that whenever I pick up the phone we have a conversation," Sheppard said.
Sheppard doubled down further on Beal's future in two ways. First, by including him in their plans to pitch free agents next month. He also mentioned Russell Westbrook, who has been featured in some trade rumors himself and whose future has been tied to Beal's decision about a trade request.
"There's a whole lot of free agents that would love to play with Bradley Beal, that would love to play with Russell Westbrook. Our job is to find the best-valued ones," Sheppard said.
Sheppard also discussed plans to offer Beal a contract extension in October, which NBC Sports Washington reported on in June. Sheppard took it further and said they will have all their ducks in a row for the moment they are allowed to begin negotiations.
"I don't know how to say it any more strong than that an extension is available in October. That's something that will be there the moment it's available. There is no pressure on Bradley other than that we want to respect the day that it's available that it's there. That's what we did the last time with the extension nobody thought we could do," Sheppard said.
Though it's easy to compare this situation to the one last year with Wall, that last part is important to note. Sheppard has been able to surprise before by getting Beal to sign on the dotted line and commit to the Wizards' future. It sounds like he is fully intent on doing the same once again.