Wizards coach Randy Wittman publicly questioned Marcin Gortat‘s toughness.
That didn’t go over well with Gortat.
Let’s see how it’s taken by Bradley Beal, who shot 5-for-15 and committed seven turnovers in Washington’s 109-103 loss to the Rockets on Wednesday.
Wittman, via J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic:
“He played not aggressive. Too soft,” coach Randy Wittman said. “That’s what happens. You get seven turnovers.”
Beal, via Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post:
“He’s right. Turnovers are bad either way, if you have one or if you have seven, a turnover’s a turnover. No matter what, that comes from not being aggressive with the ball, and not being aggressive is quote- soft. So, you can’t argue.”
But that’s not the whole story.
Beal’s answers have gotten shorter and more curt than ever, and his non-verbal communication makes it obvious that he’s not fully on board with Wittman’s critique of the team’s performances. He remains as pleasant as can be expected under the circumstances, declining to answer certain things either because he’s tired of doing it week after week, month after month and year after year or simply because he’s fed up and has chosen wisely not to compound a bad situation.
Beal, a 34-point performance against the Suns acknowledged, has struggled since his shoulder injury. The turnovers against Houston were the nadir. These were particularly sloppy, and they made Beal look soft.
So, if Beal is put off by Wittman, now isn’t the best time to express it. Wittman’s criticism is too accurate.
But if Wittman keeps bluntly assessing his players publicly, they might lose patience. Right now, Beal is at least content to say the right things. That might not remain the case.
This is a typical case where winning cures all ills. If the Wizards play better, Wittman would have less to criticize. And if Wittman’s happier, his players would have less reason to rebel.
But how does Washington get back on track, especially if Beal’s slump continues? And if they don’t win more, what’s to stop Wittman from sharpening his criticism? He’s always been blunt, for better or worse. Beal getting healthier might be the best hope, but it’s not even certain the injury is still bothering him.
The Wizards might not want to fire Wittman, but if they keep losing and he keeps publicly chastising his players, they might reach a breaking point.
If you’re a Comcast subscriber in Washington, you can stream tonight’s Wizards-Pelicans game here.