For the past two years, the Washington Wizards have been in denial about the end. The era of John Wall and Bradley Beal is over. The dynamic within the duo, which never fully matured, cannot be repaired, surgically or emotionally.

Blame doesn’t matter, just reality. It’s past time the Wizards face it. Face all of it. And with all the drama swirling in their organization and throughout an NBA defined by fickle stars, this period is likely their last chance to be somewhat proactive about a solution.

They need to make the tough decision to move on — from both star guards — now. They should be honest, brutally so. They are wasting valuable rebuilding time pretending, with their hopes and forecasts and strains to envision a prosperous future if they do everything just right.

The Wizards can’t just pick one star and retool accordingly. Even if General Manager Tommy Sheppard nailed every move doing it that way, he could accomplish only some fancy, short-term patchwork. The bold but sensible option is to choose neither star and venture into that familiar, scary place the franchise would rather avoid: the unknown.

Sure, Sheppard has made clear his desire to build around Beal and emphasized the amicable relationship between the team and its 27-year-old franchise player. But the answer isn’t to focus solely on the long-brewing problem with Wall, who now wants to move on as much as the team does. There’s a bigger picture here. While it seems an impossible challenge to find a decent trade for Wall — a star on a supermax contract who hasn’t played in nearly two years — the situation with Beal is just as complicated in its own way.

The Wizards shouldn’t view the two-year, $72 million contract extension Beal agreed to more than a year ago as a firm and all-curing commitment. They’re still on a clock ticking disturbingly fast, faster than they may be able to manage. Beal can opt out of that deal after the 2021-22 season. So, in essence, Washington has one year to prove it is building a winner again before Beal is perceived to be on an expiring deal. This season, the Wizards must be more than a .500-ish team that sneaks into the playoffs and bows out in the first round. They must be both successful and on a transparent path to a high-ceiling future.

Barring a series of miracles, it’s just not realistic on that timeline. Since taking over for Ernie Grunfeld, Sheppard has done a nice, textbook job of reimagining the roster, with Beal as the centerpiece and Wall as a high-level complementary player once healthy, fingers crossed. But for all the good work, the Wizards look like a team in a mode of incremental, long-term growth. They’re not ready to burst back onto the scene this season and pick up where they left off two years ago, when they were amid a stretch of four playoff appearances in five seasons.

They have drafted, acquired or developed a younger cast of role players, all of whom have upside. There’s not a clear future all-star in the group, but Thomas Bryant, Rui Hachimura, Troy Brown, Isaac Bonga and rookies Deni Avdija and Cassius Winston are a solid 22-and-under core of role-playing starters and rotational fits. Moritz Wagner and Jerome Robinson are young and interesting projects. The Wizards just committed $80 million to re-sign sharpshooter Davis Bertans, who blossomed in an enhanced role last season. And for a defensively inept team, veteran center Robin Lopez was a good signing.

But this team has no chance to mimic the Miami Heat’s leap from the lottery to the NBA Finals. Simply making the playoffs — or just getting into the play-in tournament for the final seed — will be a task with several bottom-feeder Eastern Conference teams looking much improved.

If the Wizards somehow managed to make it work with Beal and Wall for another season, their most optimistic ceiling is to advance to the second round, which has been their peak during this era. If they traded Wall for whatever spare parts match his $41.2 million salary, their ceiling with Beal as the only established star is a first-round exit. If for some reason they traded Beal but retained Wall, they’re a lottery team featuring a disgruntled supermax player.

The Wizards can initiate dramatic change or be forced to do so at a less advantageous time.

The current predicament with Wall is a harbinger of this trouble. It’s hilarious when you think about it. The story now is that Wall wants to be traded, but it’s a prideful reaction to reports of the Wizards and Houston Rockets considering a Wall-for-Russell Westbrook swap.

Imagine how that trade request might have gone.

Wall, through agent Rich Paul: “I want OUT.”

Sheppard: “We’re already on it, dude.”

By the way, a trade centered around Wall and Westbrook isn’t a great fix from the Wizards’ long-term perspective, either. Houston wouldn’t make that trade straight up because Westbrook, who was a third team all-NBA performer last season, is the better player. Westbrook is wearing down physically, but unlike Wall, he’s not coming off a major injury and a long absence. Even though the Rockets are in disarray, the Wizards would have to give up more — a future first rounder, probably — to acquire Westbrook.

If the goal is to build a sustainable winner that keeps Beal engaged, this isn’t the move. While Westbrook immediately would make the Wizards more competitive, the ceiling remains at the second-round level. And with Westbrook, it’s just as hard to build the team in Beal’s image.

Even when he played with Kevin Durant, Westbrook resisted being a true complementary star. Although Coach Scott Brooks could make them work as another ball-dominant duo, that could stunt the growth of the rest of the young roster. With Avdija and Hachimura as the bookend young forwards, the Wizards need to employ a system of ball movement and encourage playmaking from every spot on the court. While Westbrook is more accomplished, he might be even more limited than Wall when asked to play off the ball.

The Wizards need a fresh approach. They need to change the conversation about their team, which is full of doubt and apathy. This is the season to do it. What are they worried about? Fans not coming to games? In this pandemic, there is no box-office revenue anyway.

If the Wizards don’t look to the future as soon as possible, the future will come hunting at an inopportune time. With teams foolishly throwing loads of draft picks into trades to land big-name players, the winds of NBA change signal that now is a good moment to commit to rebuilding.

Try to stack draft picks like Sam Presti in Oklahoma City or David Griffin in New Orleans. The next three drafts are projected to have ideal depth and plenty of franchise-altering phenoms. The Wizards shouldn’t tank, but they should focus on a youth movement and align their roster with Avdija and Hachimura, the pair of No. 9 picks they selected in the past two drafts.

Consider the timing, and it’s clear the era of Wall and Beal is over. Even at the end, the two always will be connected. The Wizards can’t be the last to acknowledge that.