Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal said it was “shocking” and a “tough pill to swallow” to see John Wall traded to the Houston Rockets for Russell Westbrook but believes he and Westbrook will “mesh well.”
Wall and Beal were teammates for the past eight seasons, but Wall has not played in two years due to an Achilles injury. The pair reached the playoffs four times but were unable to get past the second round.
Beal said the two days since the trade have been “emotional.”
“It was definitely kind of shocking and crazy to see the news the other day,” Beal said. “You understand it’s the business of basketball. … It was a tough pill for me to swallow too, but on the flip side you look at it and see who we are bringing in and the caliber of player in Russ and what he is able to do, former MVP, walking triple-double, he is going to bring a spark to our team and an energy to our city.”
Westbrook, 32, comes to Washington with a reputation for wanting to win badly as well as his trademark aggressive and attacking nature on the court. Beal, who flourished in Wall’s absence and averaged a career-high 30.5 points and 6.1 assists last season, said he won’t buy into any negative narratives about Westbrook being difficult to play with. Beal said he is excited to see what he can do with Westbrook.
“I think there is a lot of false narratives that people have on him,” said Beal, who also called Westbrook a great point guard. “So I won’t put any stock into those things until I get some time with Russ on the floor. I don’t think it will be anything where he comes in and he’s like trying to run the show and just do everything by himself. He realizes it’s a group effort.”
“I don’t think it will be any issues,” Beal added. “Just the fact that I love to play on the ball a little bit more than in years past may be the only [adjustment], but just him being able to defer to [Paul George], defer to [Kevin Durant], defer to James [Harden] at times, that is going to be the same thing.”
Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard said trading Wall, the franchise’s pick at No. 1 overall in 2010, was the most difficult decision he has made in his nearly three decades in basketball. But he also said that Westbrook will help the Wizards “hit our stride a little quicker” since Wall hasn’t played since Dec. 26, 2018.
“I felt it was my responsibility for the Wizards to get better and to have the opportunity to acquire a player who is a nine-time All-NBA player,” said Sheppard, who started the virtual conference by saluting Wall for his impact on the franchise and the D.C. community. “There’s 28 people in history that have been an All-NBA player at least nine times. There’s four active in the NBA: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook. His résumé speaks for itself.”
Beal said he and Wall have had multiple conversations since the trade, including an emotional moment when Wall visited the Wizards facility one final time to say goodbye.
“I’m trying not to get emotional now,” Beal said of that moment. “It’s tough because he’s a brother. You realize that relationship was so strong, but it was so crazy because a lot of people tried to break us apart, a lot of people tried to put us apart, put us against each other, and it was always crazy because when we came together and had those conversations, it was the total opposite of what everybody was making and the rumors and the noise.”