Bradley Beal had been looking forward to the return of an All-Star to pair with in the Washington Wizards backcourt in 2020-21.
Instead he’ll have a new All-Star by his side when the season begins later this month.
The Wizards announced on Thursday that they have agreed to trade long-time D.C. point guard John Wall to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Russell Westbrook. The move pairs two of the Top 7 scorers in the league last year with Brad and Westbrook in Washington. The move left Brad with mixed emotions as he says goodbye to a long-time teammate and friend while welcoming in one of the most talented players in the game. Speaking with the media the day after the trade, BB reflected before looking ahead.
“Definitely been a tough 24, 48, 72 hours here, just kind of letting it all seep in and just realizing that your brother is no longer here with you. It’s a tough pill to swallow, you know…Our brotherhood continues. I’ve had conversations with John over the last few days, and they’ve been nothing put positivity and nothing but great conversations,” Brad said. “But today was the first day of camp, so I kind of have to shift my focus to the Wizards and bringing Russ in and welcoming him and making him feel comfortable, getting this thing off and running.”
Pairing alongside each other will certainly be an adjustment for both Brad and Westbrook. Since Wall went down with his Achilles injury, Brad has become much more accustomed to playing with the ball in his hands as the primary options, and he’s flourished in that role. He’ll have to adapt again with Westbrook on the ball a large portion of the time, but it’s an adjustment he’s ready and willing to make.
“I’m definitely curious to see the adjustment I make playing with Russ,” Beal said. “I will say I know him off the court a little bit. I am a fan of his. He’s a family man, great guy, great character guy. So I believe we’ll mesh well and jell well. . . . I’m adaptable, very easy to play with, so I don’t think it’ll be a problem at all.”
Washington coach Scott Brooks, who coached Westbrook early in his career in Oklahoma City, believes his two stars will push each other to be better and the Wizards will benefit.
“They’re determined guys; they have a big-time drive in their work ethic, their professionalism, what they’re about off the court. There’s a lot of things — they remind me of each other,” Brooks said. “So there’s going to be some figuring out to do with myself and my staff. But they’re about sacrificing. We know, if we want to get to the place we want to get to, we have to sacrifice. … It’s going to take an entire 15-man roster to make some sacrifices, where we want to get to.”
The Wizards begin preseason action on Sunday, December 13 in Brooklyn. Their regular season begins on December 23 in Philadelphia against the 76ers.