NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Wall, Beal try to get past on-court ‘dislike’ of each other — Bradley Beal and John Wall have been the backcourt of the future for the Washington Wizards since Beal came aboard as a rookie in 2012-13. Since then, the duo has seen its share of highs (back-to-back appearances in the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2013-14 and ’14-15) and lows (non-playoff seasons in ’12-13 and last season). To reach greater heights, Beal and Wall will have to work together, something they both say doesn’t always come easy to them in an interview transcribed by J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic.com:
It’s no secret that the Wizards’ future — and two best and highest-paid players — have work to do with builidng their relationship. It’s Wall’s seventh season and Beal’s fifth.
“I think a lot of times we have a tendency to dislike each other on the court. … We got to be able to put that to the side. If you miss somebody on one play or don’t have something go right … as long as you come to each other and talk. If I starting arguing with somebody I’m cool. I’m just playing basketball,” Wall said in a sitdown interview with CSN’s Chris Miller that airs tonight, Wizards Central: Offseason Grind, at 7:30 p.m. ET.
“Now that you have your money you got to go out there and improve your game. I want you to be an All-Star just as much as I’m an All-Star. If we were playing well as a tandem like the other two superstars that play together as a backcourt, play as a tandem, one night it’s going to be his night, one night it’s going to be mine, some nights it might be both of us. Those are nights it’s going to be tough to beat us.”
Since the backcourt has played together for four years, there’s a tendency to asume that they’re best friends. But they don’t spend much time together outside of Verizon Center and they have had to be separated on more than one occassion after blowups.
In a 41-41 season that had the Wizards out of the playoffs, Wall concluded the overall bickering amongst teammates was as much of a problem as the injuries.
One of the early signs of the season going south came after an embarrassing 123-106 loss to the Indiana Pacers in which Wall remarked postgame he’d only gotten nine shots up in 31 minutes. He didn’t mention anyone by name, but it appeared to mean he likely was unhappy that Beal took 22 in comparison. The next night, in a road game vs. the Charlotte Hornets, Wall predictably had nine shots by the end of the first quarter in a 101-87 loss.
Beal’s first injury last season was a shoulder contusion that came a few games prior to that episode, when he went down to the floor for a loose ball and took a knee against the Atlanta Hawks. While teammates ran to his aid, Wall bypassed Beal and walked to the other end of the court during the dead ball. This sort of body language speaks more than any words.
If Wall and Beal are truly going to be leaders, they have to be the voices of reason and not fan any flames with the likes of Trey Burke, Tomas Satoransky, Andrew Nicholson, Kelly Oubre and likely Jarell Eddie.
“It’s tough because we’re both alphas. It’s always tough when you have two guys who firmly believe in themselves, who will bet on themselves against anybody else, who want to be that guy. We both can be that guy,” Beal said.
“Sometimes I think we both lose sight of the fact that we need each other. I wouldn’t be in the situation I’m in without John. John wouldn’t be in the situation he’s in without me, without the rest of the team. It goes hand-in-hand so it’s kind of a pride thing. We got to (hash) out our pride, fiigure out what our goals are individually, help each other achieve those goals, figure out what our team goal is, where do we see ourselves five years from now, 10 years from now and go from there.”
It’s a rough patch that coach Randy Wittman never was able to smooth out. This is where new coach Scott Brooks is expected to help in their development as the leaders witth the core veterans gutted from the roster, some of whom insisted that during games it can be difficult to get through to the backcourt when they’re frustrated.
“Guys got to know their role. I think that’s the key. I think with coach Brooks coming in he’s going to hold everybody accountable starting with me,” Wall said. “Just make sure everybody know what their role is. If everybody buys into their role, we’ll be fine.”
This was viewed as Wall’s team since he was drafted No. 1 overall in 2010, became a three-time All-Star and second-team All-Defense. Beal, who played a career-low 55 games last season, has yet to achieve those sorts of honors. Wall has to be willing to share.
“I want it all to be on me. At the same time I want him to be right there with me. He’s my sidekick. I’m A. He’s A-1. He’s right there,” Wall said. “That’s something we got to do on the first day of training camp. We have to go in there and understand and get on the same page.
“If we’re not on the same page and we have our ups and downs we’ll keep dealing with the same problems. We have to get control of it. I think it’s hanging out off the court, doing those little things (helps).”
“It kind of goes back to when I was in college,” Wall said. “Me and DeMarcus (Cousins), E-Bled [Eric Bledsoe], they all knew I was getting all the media attention but every time I win I brought those guys along with me. I didn’t leave them behind. That’s because we hung out so much. We built a bond together. When you build that bond it’s kind of hard to break.”
No. 2: Boeheim says Anthony ‘unlikely’ to win NBA championship — NBA season No. 14 is just weeks away for New York Knicks star and three-time Olympic gold medal winner Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks have a remodeled roster and were busy in the offseason, but where they rank in the Eastern Conference hierarchy remains mostly unknown. One of the assistant coaches on Team USA, Jim Boeheim, knows Anthony perhaps better than most after having coached him at Syracuse. Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard has more from Boeheim, who praised Anthony and also offered a stark assessment of his NBA career:
“Carmelo was the unquestioned leader of this team,” Boeheim said Tuesday. “I thought he did a great job.”
Boeheim, who coached Anthony at Syracuse in 2003 and as an assistant on each of the last three U.S. Olympic teams, had encouraged Anthony to participate in these Olympics when so many other NBA stars like LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry and James Harden were passing on going to Rio.
Boeheim knew that Anthony had suffered through the last few seasons on mediocre New York Knicks teams. The Olympics, Boeheim felt, would be good for his former star.
“I think it meant a lot to him because he’s had a couple bad years obviously in New York,” Boeheim said. “The reason I wanted him to go was to have a good basketball experience for himself and to be the leader of this team, which we felt we needed with all the other veteran guys either being hurt or just choosing not to play. I think it was important for him to go. He did a great job. He really did a great job throughout the whole tournament.”
The past few U.S. Olympic teams had included the likes of James, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul. This year’s team looked to Anthony for leadership.
“He was a really good leader on this year’s team,” Boeheim said. “When we were struggling there, he was a good voice in the locker room. He kept everybody together. We had so many new guys that weren’t used to, some of them hadn’t come off the bench in some time and it was a struggle for them, but everything came together.”
While James and Wade, who were both members of the NBA’s 2003 draft class along with Anthony, have won multiple NBA titles, Anthony remains without a ring. The three gold medals, said Boeheim, are a testament to Anthony’s place in the game.
“He’s unlikely to win an NBA title,” Boeheim said. “He’s never been on a team that even had a remote chance of winning an NBA title. As a player, all you can do is try to make your team better and every team he’s been on he’s made them a lot better. Denver hadn’t done anything prior to him getting there and he took them into the playoffs. They weren’t going to beat the Lakers or the Spurs. In those years, they won the championship most of the time.
“But he’s always made his team better,” added Boeheim. “It’s obvious. You look back on your total basketball experience and he had a great high school team, he won the NCAA championship and he’s won three gold medals in the Olympics. That’s a pretty good resume.”
No. 3: Rose says he’ll show new maturity in game next season — Former NBA MVP Derrick Rose hasn’t been quiet this offseason. Since his trade from the Chicago Bulls to the New York Knicks early in the offseason, he’s had plenty to say about where he thinks his team ranks in the NBA to leaving Chicago and more. In an interview with The Vertical’s Nick DePaula, Rose had more thoughts about his Knicks and how he expects to play in 2016-17:
Rose wrapped up an Asian tour last week, visiting Shanghai and Seoul to host basketball camps, meet fans, work out and launch sneakers. Before the trip, he worked out in his summer home in Los Angeles with trainer Rob McClanaghan and several new Knicks teammates, including Kristaps Porzingis, Sasha Vujacic, Brandon Jennings and Courtney Lee.
“There was a very high energy and a great vibe in the gym,” McClanaghan told The Vertical. “D-Rose has looked extremely good. He’s in a good place on and off the court and just can’t wait to get it going with this team.”
“I just love the group,” Rose said. “I think everybody is on the same page. I love the culture that Phil is creating. Just the organization and franchise, I love everybody that’s working on it, and they seem like they’re very excited for everything. That just rubs off on people.”
Rose has heard the critics and is preparing to be at his best for New York’s opening game against the defending champions in Cleveland.
“I feel like I’m not done,” Rose said. “It’s a new start. I feel rejuvenated, and when you put all that together, when I step on the floor, I really don’t know what to expect. What I’m doing right now is just preparing myself for something big. I think we have a chance to win every game, and in the league, that’s rare. ”
Chicago always will remain with Rose, which is why he’ll be wearing No. 25 with New York. He wore the number while at Simeon High School to honor the school’s fallen star, Benji Wilson, who was one of the top high school players in America when he died in 1984 after an altercation with student from another high school. “I’m not forgetting where I came from,” Rose said. “It’s my roots, and I’ll always give Chicago my all.”
While several of Rose’s past sneakers featured his old No. 1 in different parts of the shoe, the D Rose 7 minimizes references to it. There’s a No. 1 incorporated into his small written signature on the heel because adidas wasn’t able to update it in time for the launch. The inner negative space of the D along his “D Rose” logo also contains a subtle “1,” which also won’t be changing going forward.
“The past is the past, but that No. 1, I think, will always be stuck with me,” Rose said. “It’s always going to remind people and give them memories of how I played when I was younger. I was playing reckless, and I was just ballin’. I had raw talent.”
The next chapter is nearing, and the expectations have heightened Rose’s excitement for the 2016-2017 season. It’s a chance to prove his offseason work has paid off and to build on last season’s relatively healthy 66-game campaign. After the All-Star break in February, Rose averaged 19.9 points on 51.4 percent shooting from the field. It was his most consistent stretch of play since that 2011 MVP season.
“Now, with the No. 25, I think you’ll see a more mature player,” Rose said. “You’ll see the player that you saw toward the end of last year. More under control type of game, and I got a lot more options now this year. That No. 1 will always be engraved in me, and it’s not going anywhere. Twenty-five is just a new step, and a new step in the right direction.”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: ICYMI, the Toronto Raptors have two new alternate uniforms they’ll be sporting next season … The Portland Trail Blazers’ new center, Festus Ezeli, will be out six weeks after receiving an injection in his left knee … Damian Lillard says he’s in touch with Kobe Bryant every now and then … Parsing through some offseason trade rumors involving Blake Griffin, DeMarcus Cousins and others …