It appears that there’s a chance the Washington Wizards might have to enter the upcoming resumption of the 2019-20 NBA season without their top scorer. Bradley Beal reportedly remains unsure whether he will join the team in Orlando, Florida, as they hope to sneak into the playoffs despite their 24-40 win-loss record.
On Wednesday afternoon, ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk reported on Twitter that Beal “hasn’t decided yet” on whether to suit up for the season restart, noting that he is working out in the meantime but hasn’t been swayed “one way or another” with only a few weeks remaining before the resumption of play. You can see Youngmisuk’s tweet here.
Should Beal decide against playing, that will make him the third key member of the Wizards’ rotation who won’t be taking part in the restart, which will have all 22 participating teams playing eight regular-season games to decide this year’s playoff brackets. As noted by CBS Sports, forward Davis Bertans decided last month that he won’t be joining his teammates in Orlando due to his impending unrestricted free agency and his desire to avoid possible injuries that could compromise his value.
Point guard John Wall, on the other hand, has been sidelined for over a season due to an Achilles injury but is expected to continue sitting out as he hopes to be ready in time for the 2020-21 campaign.
As Washington is currently ninth in the Eastern Conference and 5.5 games behind the eighth-seeded Orlando Magic, the team will need to perform well enough during the restart to be within at least four games of the eighth-placer at the end of the regular season. As explained by Bleacher Report, this would then require a series to determine the final playoff spot, with the No. 9 seed required to beat the No. 8 seed twice in a row in order to make the postseason.
With Beal’s availability apparently in question, Bleacher Report speculated that his potential absence could result in the Wizards’ playoff odds taking a “massive hit.” The two-time All-Star was averaging a career-best 30.5 points and 6.1 assists, as well as 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game before the NBA suspended the 2019-20 season in March.
While multiple players decided to sit out the remainder of the season as a response to the social justice concerns raised by the death of George Floyd, Beal has reportedly cited the coronavirus crisis as the main reason he might opt out of the restart. As quoted by Bleacher Report, the 27-year-old recently told The Athletic‘s Fred Katz that it’s still possible to “raise awareness” of social issues by playing basketball, given that the pandemic was the only reason behind the NBA’s decision to pause operations.