Knowing how much can change in a short period of time these days, Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard isn't looking too far ahead. But as of now, he expects Bradley Beal to be with the team in Orlando when they resume games next month.
That is barring something unforeseen, which is a saying that means more now than possibly ever before. The Wizards do not head to Florida until July 7. A lot can happen in a week.
So far only Davis Bertans has opted out of the league's return-to-play plan. Sheppard said there was a consistent dialogue about that decision before Bertans made it official, and that he understands where Bertans is coming from. He called him a "big piece" of the team's future.
"[No] other player has given me any indication whatsoever. We've had great workouts," Sheppard said. "What we need to do to prepare to go to Orlando is be in Washington, D.C. right now and have a great day. And then tomorrow we get up and we do the same thing again. We tie all those days together and we get to July 7 and we'll get on a plane."
After laying out the necessary caveats, Sheppard suggested the Wizards will be careful with Beal in Orlando when they get back on the court to play their final eight regular season games.
"I don't want to look too far ahead on any player. Certainly, with Bradley we're going to be very protective of him, but of all of our players. This is a different, unique ramp-up," Sheppard said.
"[It's never happened] where the entire league really has not played a game at all during this entire stretch or have the opportunity to practice as an NBA team... When I talk about Bradley Beal playing in Orlando, I've gotta worry about Bradley Beal working out here as we get ready to go to Orlando."
Beal, who turned 27 over the weekend, was in as good a position as he could be during quarantine with a basketball court and workout gym in his house. He was able to stay in shape and shoot the basketball, which means he was more ready to return than most players. He also has a chance to make All-NBA, which is arguably worth going to Orlando for.
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But, like any NBA player, he has to weigh all the factors involved and there are many reasons why players are citing to sit out or considering to do so. There is the injury risk, the possibility of a Covid-19 outbreak within the league's bubble and a nationwide conversation about social justice matters that has weighed heavily on the minds of many players, including Beal.
As Sheppard indicated, the circumstances up and down are unusual. And it sounds like Beal will be closely monitored in terms of his minutes for the final eight games. He is fifth in the NBA this season in minutes per game (36.0).
For now, all Beal and the Wizards can do is take it one day at a time. On Monday, the day Sheppard addressed the media, Beal had already finished a successful workout hours earlier.
"He shot the lights out because that's what he does," Sheppard said.
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