Beal praises Wiz, but says too soon to talk future

After the Washington Wizards saw their season end with a Game 5 first-round loss to the 76ers on Wednesday night in Philadelphia, Bradley Beal said it was too soon to declare either way what his future intentions will be as he enters the final year of his contract.

“I haven’t even … we’re not gonna think about that, or even talk about it, right now,” Beal said after collecting 32 points, seven rebounds and five assists in Washington’s 129-112 loss.

“I haven’t thought about none of that, as of yet.”

While some would take that as a sign that Beal might be ready to leave after nine years with the franchise, the rest of his news conference took a very different tone. He praised the team’s young core, as well as the experience of playing alongside Russell Westbrook.

And when he was asked about the process of dealing with outside noise surrounding his future, he said he only worries about his own thoughts on the situation.

“Ultimately, I’m in control,” Beal said. “I think that’s my biggest thing. People are going to report whatever they want, but I know where my mind is and I know if it’s not coming from the horse’s mouth, then it’s going to be rumors. I expect them. S—, they’re starting now.

“So it doesn’t change anything. I guess it’s going to increase a lot more this year with me going into the last year of my deal, but for me, I’m just relaxing, resting my body and we’ll evaluate all that when summer comes.”

One contract Beal had no problem advocating for was a new one for his coach, Scott Brooks, whose deal expires at the end of this season. Both he and Westbrook endorsed Brooks as the coach who should lead the team into next season and beyond.

All three men also praised the Wizards for their willingness to fight through adversity all season long, as Washington got off to a horrible start, compounded by a widespread COVID-19 outbreak, to make the playoffs after being mired at the bottom of the East standings for more than the first half of the season.

“The biggest thing for me is we battled the whole year,” said Beal, who had a stellar individual season, finishing second (31.3 points per game) to Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry (32 points) for the league’s scoring title. “We didn’t start off the way we wanted to, it was frustrating all around for everybody, I was frustrated at times, I’m very optimistic and I’ve persevered through a lot of adversity and I think we did that as a team, so for me, I think we just put ourselves in a position to win.

“We made do with what we had, at times we had a lot of guys out, a lot of different lineups throughout the year, so for the most part I was happy with that. I was happy we competed and gave ourselves a chance at the end of the year. We obviously still need to get better. We have a lot of room for improvement all across the board.”

Brooks made no secret about his willingness to return to Washington, saying that there is “no decision” in his mind about whether he’d like to extend his stay in the nation’s capital past the five years it has run thus far.

“I love it here. I have gotten to know [owner Ted Leonsis] and his family and the ownership group and what I saw the first four, three and a half years was really incredible, and I don’t know what the exact date was, March 10 [of last year], right after the Knicks game, when COVID suspended play. That’s when I saw what really great ownership is about,” Brooks said. “And I saw it first-hand, he made every decision based on our team, our employees, our people, and that’s what a good organization is about. It’s about nothing but the people and what I saw there I wouldn’t want to move on. I love it here. I love the city. My family loves it. But like I said, it’s for a later time, and we focused on the season this year, and that was more important than anything.”

It should come with little surprise that Westbrook endorsed Brooks to return. He spent several seasons with Brooks in Oklahoma City before being reunited with him prior to this season after the Wizards acquired him from the Houston Rockets for John Wall.

But Westbrook said he saw Brooks still has all of the things he appreciated about him from their first stint together, and that he hopes he will remain his coach moving forward.

“I don’t see why Scott should go anywhere,” said Westbrook, who has another three years left on his contract.. “Not just because we’re close but he’s done a hell of a job with our team, with our program since I’ve been here and just [being] around our team and our coaching staff, just understanding how important his impact was to this organization and when I got here I was able to see it first hand.

“He’s still the same Coach Brooks, and he brings intensity, the effort like he was playing, but he’s a coach. That’s something you can’t teach … If it was up to me, I don’t think he should go anywhere.”

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