The wait for Bradley Beal might soon be over. Beal, the Wizards’ leading scorer, ran drills with the first unit at Monday’s morning shootaround and could be available when the team attempts to end a four-game skid against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
“I feel good. We’ll see,” Beal said, when asked about returning from a three-week injury-related break in New York. “I’ve got to work out before the game. The trainers, myself and coach will decide from there. I’m not sure.”
Beal has missed the past nine games while recovering from a stress injury in his right fibula. At the time his injury was detected on Nov. 25, the 20-year-old second-year guard was averaging 20.6 points and leading the NBA in average minutes played (40.2) and distance traveled on the floor (2.9 miles).
After being cleared to increase basketball-related activities last week, Beal participated in two practices and has been working out with assistant Sam Cassell before games. He was excited about getting back on the floor with his teammates and going through the strategy against the Knicks.
“It was pretty cool,” Beal said. “Just to be back out there and just get into the flow, try to remember as many plays as I possibly can and not losing the rhythm. The chemistry is still there, so if I give it a shot today, I’m pretty sure everything will be just like when I left.”
Beal acknowledged that he would probably need to adhere to a minute restriction whenever he is able to return.
“We talked about it a little bit. And I’ll leave the decision up to the doc and the coach,” Beal said. “Of course, if the game is in the heat of the moment, I probably won’t want to come out. If I played, but it’s for my own benefit. At the end of the day, I’m still going to compete to the best of my abilities but at the same time I have to be smart.”
The Wizards (9-13) have gone 4-5 in Beal’s absence, which has also coincided with Nene missing four games because of tendinitis in his right Achilles’ and Martell Webster missing another because of a sprained left ankle. Beal said the team’s recent struggles have not factored into his decision to come back.
“We’ll be fine,” Beal said. “We lost four straight, but it’s still early in the season. We have a lot of guys out and we’re expecting players who haven’t played much to step up in big roles. I think they did a great job of handling that, but we still got a long way to go and once we get everybody back, we’ll be fine.”
Beal might need some to regain his conditioning but feels confident that he can handle the physical grind again.
“I think I did a pretty good job of staying in shape,” he said. “Of course, you’re always going to be a little bit tired if I play today, not playing for three weeks. I mean, we’ll have to see. I’ll see how my workout goes and if I give it a shot, I’ll definitely be more than ready.”
And playing on the NBA’s grandest stage at Madison Square Garden certainly doesn’t make a return any less inviting.
“Just the history behind it,” Beal said. “You always want to be a part of it and there is always some type of miracle that happens here. So, it’s always the best games here, the livest crowd. The court in itself has a lot of history behind it, so hopefully if I play, I’m looking forward to it again.”