John Wall

Wizards: Bradley Beal not playing in resumption due to shoulder injury

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The Wizards (24-40) were selected for the NBA’s resumption at Disney World despite their lousy record. They were the only Eastern Conference team outside playoff position to qualify, and the league set up a relatively easy path for reaching the playoffs. Washington (5.5 games behind the Magic, 6.0 games behind the Nets) just had to get within four games of eighth place to force play-in games. Brooklyn will be without  Kevin Durant, Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Wilson Chandler and Spencer Dinwiddie.

What a golden opportunity for the Wizards.

But their highest-paid player – John Wall, who declared himself 110% healthy – won’t play. Their second-best playerDavis Bertansdecided to sit out. And now their best player – Bradley Beal – is done for the season.

Wizards release:

The Washington Wizards announced today that guard Bradley Beal will not participate in the NBA’s 2019-20 season restart in Orlando due to a right rotator cuff injury.  The decision was made in full consultation with Wizards Chief of Athlete Care & Performance Daniel Medina, Wizards Orthopedist Dr. Wiemi Douoguih, Beal and his representation.

“Bradley did everything possible to be ready to play, but after closely monitoring his individual workouts we came to the conclusion that it was best for him to sit out the upcoming games in Orlando and avoid the risk of further injury,” said Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard.  “Although he was able to play through the majority of the season with the injury, the layoff from March until now did not leave any of us feeling comfortable that he would have enough time to be ready to perform at the extremely high level we are all accustomed to seeing and agreed that not participating in the games in Orlando was the right decision.”

Beal experienced discomfort with his shoulder early in the season and worked with the team’s medical and performance staff to manage the injury.  The symptoms worsened over the course of the hiatus and he began to rehabilitate the injury with the intent of returning to play.  He will not travel with the team to Orlando and will continue his rehabilitation process over the summer.

“This was a difficult decision and one that I did not take lightly as the leader of this team,” said Beal.  “I wanted to help my teammates compete for a playoff spot in Orlando, but also understand that this will be best for all of us in the long term.  I appreciate the support of my teammates, the fans and the entire organization and look forward to returning next season to continue the progress we have made.”

Pacers guard Victor Oladipo became the first star to choose to sit out. Is Beal the second?

It’s a gray area.

Oladipo missed more than a year with a torn right quad tendon, returned for just 13 games then had another long layoff due to the season being suspended. He increased risk of future injury as his reason not to play.

Washington is citing a current injury. If Beal isn’t healthy enough to play, he’s not healthy enough to play. Players get hurt all the time. It could be that simple.

But players are also incentivized to claim injury here regardless of their actual reason for not playing. Given Beal’s standing in the organization, of course the Wizards would go along with whatever he wants.

If deemed to be missing games due to injury rather than personal choice, Beal would protect at least $2,376,581 in base salary. (With league-wide revenue way down, no players are getting their full base salary this season.) Beal would also protect an additional $297,073 of base salary for each play-in and playoff game Washington plays up to a total of $4,159,016 in base salary.

But get real. The Wizards were already the worst continuing team. And that was with Beal.

Though anything can happen in this high-variance setup, Washington looks like it belongs in the second bubble.

Wizards sign Jerian Grant to fill Davis Bertans roster spot for restart

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It is a full-circle story: Jerian Grant, the former Wizards’ ball boy and son of former Bullets player Harvey Grant, signed with his father’s former team.

The younger Grant signed with the Wizards for the NBA’s restart down in Orlando, a story broken by Chris Miller of NBC Sports Washington.

Grant will take the roster spot of Davis Bertans, as the sharpshooting big man and free agent to chose not to head to Orlando in what is a smart business decisionone called out by Evan Fournier of the Magic. It’s not every day you see a player call out another one for making a decision that will guarantee them the most money.

Grant bounced around the NBA for four years before averaging 16.3 points and 5.9 assists per game (and shooting 43.5% from three, but on fewer than two attempts a game) for the Wizards G-League affiliate this season, the Capital City Go-Go.

Grant plays primarily at the point, but he can work off the ball as a two-guard. With John Wall not returning to play in Orlando, Ish Smith and Shabazz Napier are the Washington point guards. Grant will be behind them in the rotation.

Bradley Beal recounts police officer threatening to put him ‘on a headline and arrest you’

Bradley Beal
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As the NBA recognizes and honors Juneteenth, a number of Black players have been speaking out at marches, as well as on podcasts and streaming interviews, talking about personal experiences of racism. Specifically, their encounters with police that have shown the systemic racism built into law enforcement nationwide.

Take, for example, Bradley Beal talking Friday at the “Together We Stand” march hosted by the Wizards and the WNBA’s Mystics. Via Eric Woodyard of ESPN.

“It happened here, two years ago. I got pulled over on 495 and the officer asked me to step out of the vehicle. I’m literally on the side of the highway… my wife, me and one of my friends, sitting in the median of the highway, on the side and he comes up to me and says, ‘What if I f— up your Monday and put you on a headline and arrest you right now?’ I didn’t do anything.

“But because I was an athlete, a black athlete driving a nice vehicle, that’s what he came up with. How am I supposed to respond to that? I would just be waking up on Monday morning with an ESPN headline: ‘Bradley Beal arrested because of interaction with police.’ But it happens. It doesn’t just happen to me, it’s everywhere. We just have to stop being ignorant to that fact that it exists.”

It does exist. Without question.

Many other Black athletes — not just NBA players, but from other sports as well — have similar stories. There are countless more stories from Black Americans who don’t have the leverage — the money and name to push back legally as Sterling Brown and others have done — who have far more disturbing stories.

Those stories need to be told — and be heard — as a first step to real change happening. Racism has to be called out, as Lakers’ owner Jeanie Buss did on Friday. It cannot be tolerated, people — especially white people — cannot look the other way.

Good on Beal and John Wall from the Wizards for sharing their stories. It’s a first step down a long road, but an important one.

John Wall lobbying Wizards to sign DeMarcus Cousins

Wizards guard John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins
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DeMarcus Cousins-to-Wizards rumors emerge year after year after year.

Why should 2020 be any different?

As is often the case, Cousins’ former Kentucky teammate – Washington guard John Wall – is fueling the latest update.

Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington:

Wall spoke on the matter Wednesday in an Instagram Live interview with ESPN’s The Undefeated. He told Marc Spears he is still lobbying for the Wizards to sign Cousins, though after years of doing so, he seems to understand full well it is probably still a pipe dream.

“Oh man, you know I’m trying to push for that. I’ve been on that for like five years. I want to sign him right now,” Wall said.

Wall added he and Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard have discussed Cousins recently, saying “we’ve been talking about it here and there.” And Wall said Cousins is now healthy despite tearing his ACL last August, which was just 10 months ago.

The Lakers waived Cousins in February. At the time, it made sense. An NBA-appointed doctor determined Cousins, who tore his ACL in August, was “substantially more likely than not” to be out through June 15. The Lakers needed a roster spot for Markieff Morris.

But coronavirus has forced the NBA to delay its season into July through October. The Lakers were hopeful Cousins could return for the regularly scheduled playoffs, which would be ending around now.

Could Cousins join Washington for the NBA’s resumption in Disney World?

The Wizards wouldn’t usually have an open roster spot. But teams can replace players not playing in Orlando, and Wall is expected to miss the entire the season. Enthusiasm for playing is also inversely proportional to a team’s championship chances. The worst of the continuing 22 teams, Washington could have players choose to sit out.

Thomas Bryant is somewhat intriguing, and Ian Mahinmi is a solid defender. But the Wizards are far from set at center. They also have limited tools for upgrading, and Cousins might not command more than a minimum salary.

Cousins rushed back during the 2019 playoffs for the Warriors, and that might have left him susceptible for his latest injury. He’ll probably be more patient this time.

But if he’s healthy, Cousins sure would make sense for Washington.

NBA Championship odds: Lakers, Bucks favorites as NBA plans restart

NBA Championship odds
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It’s all about LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo when it comes to NBA Championship odds.

At least for the gambling public. With the return of the NBA set for July in a 22-team format, the NBA futures odds to win the title have gone up at sportsbooks. Not surprisingly, LeBron and the Lakers, and Antetokounmpo and the Bucks, are the betting favorites. Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers are close behind, with a considerable drop off after that.

Here are the current odds (with money won on a $100 bet):

Los Angeles Lakers +200 +270
Milwaukee Bucks +275 +240
Los Angeles Clippers +325 +340
Houston Rockets +1500 +1200
Boston Celtics +1500 +2000
Toronto Raptors +1700 +2400
Denver Nuggets +2200 +2500
Miami Heat +4000 +2700
Philadelphia 76ers +2500 +2700
Utah Jazz +6000 +2900
Dallas Mavericks +3500 +3600
Brooklyn Nets +6000 +6000
Indiana Pacers +12500 +10000
Oklahoma City Thunder +6000 +10000
New Orleans Pelicans N/A +12000
Memphis Grizzlies +50000 +21000
Portland Trail Blazers +7500 +21000
San Antonio Spurs +100000 +21000
Orlando Magic +75000 +25000
Phoenix Suns +50000 +25000
Sacramento Kings +200000 +25000
Washington Wizards +100000 +25000

A few quick thoughts on these NBA Championship odds:

• Brooklyn is only at 60/1 odds because of Kevin Durant‘s possible return to the court — except that’s not happening. Even if he could, Kyrie Irving is not recovered from his March surgery yet, and no way KD is coming back without Irving.

• Along those same lines, John Wall is not returning for the Wizards this season.

• The best bet on the board? I would say the Clippers.

• If I had to bet who will end up with the eighth seed in the West, I would take Portland. New Orleans and Memphis both have a legitimate shot, but Portland gets Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins both back, and that was a 50+ win team with those two the season before.

• I’m basing my thoughts on what happened before March 11, and all of that feels somewhat irrelevant heading into this unprecedented situation.