As the Wizards moved into a virtual tie for the 10th and final spot for the play-in tournament on Friday night, after they beat the Pelicans for their fifth win in six games, Bradley Beal couldn’t help but think of the conversation surrounding his name just a few months ago.
At the beginning of the year, the Wizards were off to a disappointing start and the trade rumors began to percolate with his name. It got so bad that on a nightly basis his reactions after losses were going viral consistently. Speculation was running rampant about how he felt about the Wizards’ future and whether he wanted out.
That period of time seemed to strengthen Beal’s commitment to the Wizards, if anything. He and those close to him were defiant that he did not want out. He was in this for the long haul, no matter what.
The patience has paid off to a relative degree, as now the Wizards are in position to possibly make the playoffs. Beal feels like he has been somewhat vindicated by the experience.
“It speaks volumes. It’s always tough because when my name was buzzing, that’s all I heard early in the year is ‘trade Beal, trade Beal.’ It wasn’t anything other than that,” Beal said. “So, me knowing who I am and just sticking through it, that’s a testament to what we did as a team this year.”
Beal mentioned all the adversity the Wizards have faced, from their Covid-19 outbreak in January to the numerous injuries to key players including Thomas Bryant’s season-ending ACL tear.
This has been a season unlike any other and the fact the Wizards even have a chance to play beyond the regular season is fairly remarkable.
“It was a little rocky in the beginning. Once we got our full pool of guys back together and got our rotational minutes back right, we’ve been able to put some streaks together,” he said.
The Wizards are now tied in games-back for the 10th spot with the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls. Washington, however, has more work to do as Toronto has a better win percentage and both teams have the head-to-head tiebreakers against the Wizards this season.
But they are close and Beal can sense it. So much for those trade rumors.