Returning to practice without John Wall and three of his regular starters as the NBA prepares to restart its season amid a pandemic hasn’t killed Washington Wizards Coach Scott Brooks’s sense of humor. During a Thursday appearance on TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” Brooks had some fun with his friend and former teammate Charles Barkley, whose knowledge of the league he opines on isn’t exactly encyclopedic.

“Obviously without John and Bradley [Beal], your two best players, give us two names that need to really step up for your team to be successful,” Barkley said about halfway through the interview.

“Well, I think we should play that game. You give us two names of who else is on our team besides those two guys,” Brooks replied.

Brooks was referencing the show’s popular “Who He Play For?” segment, during which host Ernie Johnson names five lesser-known NBA players and challenges Barkley to identify each player’s team. (Barkley went 1 for 5 in Thursday’s edition of the game.)

“Hey, let me tell you something!” Barkley responded with a laugh. “I don’t know anybody on your team. I didn’t want to say that, but I don’t have any idea who’s on your team, so I want you to tell me two players on your team.”

“Scotty, I’m glad you read right through that,” delighted co-host Kenny Smith told Brooks. “You read right through it. He didn’t know any other players.”

“Remember, I was his roommate for two months my rookie year,” Brooks said of Barkley. “I know that guy.”

When the laughter subsided, Brooks rattled off a few Wizards he expects to perform well in Orlando.

“I think Rui [Hachimura] is going to continue to have a pretty good year,” he said. “He’s one of the most consistent rookies all year long. You can count on 14 [points] and seven rebounds. Troy Brown came back. He’s going to be in great shape. He’s going to get a great opportunity. [Isaac] Bonga’s going to get an opportunity. We have a whole list of young players that are going to get an opportunity.”

If the Wizards lose any more players, Brooks might get an opportunity to suit up. In addition to Beal, who will sit out the restart with a shoulder injury, and soon-to-be free agent Davis Bertrans, who opted to end his season rather than risk injury, the Wizards could be without guards Gary Payton II and Garrison Mathews and center Thomas Bryant when they resume the regular season July 31. Payton and Bryant tested positive for the novel coronavirus, while Mathews didn’t join the team for personal reasons, multiple people close to the players confirmed. None of the three players traveled with the team to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando on Tuesday.

TNT’s Shaquille O’Neal asked Brooks whether he would allow Beal to play if the Wizards make the NBA Finals. Washington is 5½ games behind the eighth-seeded Orlando Magic and need to get within four games of the eighth seed to force a play-in tournament for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot.

“I think my wife would be the happiest [if that happened] because she wouldn’t see me for 3½ months,” Brooks joked. “I don’t know. I think it’s definitely going to be a challenge. That’s a hypothetical question that I don’t have to worry about right now, but he needs to rehab. He needs to keep getting his body right.”

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