What Beal did not have answers for were questions about his future with the franchise.
Asked Wednesday about his intentions entering a contract year with the Wizards — he will be a free agent in 2022 — the 27-year-old said he had not yet thought about the years to come.
“We’re not even going to think about that or even talk about it right now,” Beal said. “The biggest thing for me is we battled the whole year. We didn’t start off the year the way we wanted to. It was frustrating all around for everybody. I was frustrated at times. But I’m very optimistic and persevered through a lot of adversity, and I think we did that as a team.”
Although Beal’s status is perhaps the biggest question facing Washington as it heads into the offseason, the guard is not the only main figure with the Wizards staring down an uncertain future.
Brooks is closing out the fifth and final year of his deal in Washington, and General Manager Tommy Sheppard declined to address the coach’s future during an end-of-season news conference Thursday.
Between Beal’s postgame news conference Wednesday and Brooks’s and Sheppard’s Thursday morning sessions, the only thing for certain is that no decisions will be made immediately.
“We’re not doing anything about that today,” Sheppard said when asked directly whether Brooks would return as Washington’s coach. “We’re obviously going to do a thorough evaluation of our whole organization top to bottom, of ways we can get better, but any question about that stuff, that’s not for today. That’s not for this time.”
What Sheppard could offer was that the team intends to move forward continuing to around Beal as its centerpiece. The all-star guard never asked for a trade throughout the season, according to people with knowledge of the situation, and the team does not plan on making him available for a deal.
“For me, I think we just best put ourselves in a position to win,” Beal said Wednesday. “We made do with what we had at times. … We gave ourselves a chance at the end of the year. We obviously still need to get better. We have a lot of room for improvement all across the board.”
But while Beal made no firm long-term commitment Wednesday — no surprise there, immediately after a grueling postseason run — he did praise the Wizards for taking steps in the right direction, moves that ended with the team’s first playoff appearance since 2018.
Beal even had a pitch for any impending free agents or players looking for a new home.
“Hopefully teams watch us and see what we’re capable of doing and see how we compete,” Beal said. “… We’re going to go and compete and play hard and get out and play fast. That’s who we are and what we do. D.C. is an unbelievable market — true sports town. So I don’t see why nobody wouldn’t want to be interested in coming to D.C. Obviously, recruiting is tough. It’s ongoing, so I’m definitely looking forward to this summer. My recruiting will definitely start tonight or tomorrow.”
Beal, of course, will have help working the market. Sheppard said Thursday that he has a green light from majority owner Ted Leonsis to spend the necessary capital and surpass the luxury tax threshold if necessary to make deals that would significantly improve the roster.
Washington has a laundry list of items to address.
First, the Wizards must improve their defense. They also need capable wings beyond the still-developing Deni Avdija, and they need more shooting, as the first-round playoff series against Philadelphia showed in four out of five games.
Beal mentioned all of these shortcomings Wednesday, and when Beal speaks, Sheppard takes his opinion seriously. Beal was also asked how he feels he has handled the responsibility as the Wizards’ franchise player.
“I understand not everyone in the league has power and control or say-so in the organization, so it’s something I don’t take for granted,” Beal said. “... Going from [John Wall], transitioning to me, it’s been wild, but I embrace every single step and every single moment of it. Not everybody has that opportunity to be a franchise cornerstone or that piece that they look to build around. I don’t take it for granted. That just motivates me and pushes me to get better and be better. I still have a lot I can be better in and improve on in terms of my leadership and what I do on the floor. But for the most part, man, I was pretty satisfied.”