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Top Stories of the Week: Beal signs the New Deal, the Mystics’ Olympic Break begins

San Antonio Spurs v Washington Wizards Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Welcome to the last week in July.

It’s been a hot week given that the temperatures have been in the mid to high 90’s for most of the past seven days. But fortunately, it looks like things will be more temperate.

Though we are still in July, we still have a good number of stories and links that happened throughout the week, so let’s get to them.

Bradley Beal is now the richest Wizards’ player

On Tuesday, Beal officially signed his five-year max deal. A press conference was held the following day.

One of the things we learned was that he grew almost one inch over the course of last season. Beal was last listed at 6’5, but now he can be listed at 6’6. One inch is one inch, but that one inch could also allow the Wizards some lineup flexibility, specifically him playing at the small forward position.

Beal’s growth last year may also partially explain why he has had stress reactions over the last four years. Growing taller also means that bones get longer, and perhaps more prone to these types of issues. Speaking about health issues, Scott Brooks talked more about how he plans to keep both Beal and John Wall healthy next season on the Vertical’s Podcast.

The other thing I got from the press conference was that Beal’s demeanor remains calm and collected, even after a major moment in his life like a major contract signing. On the basketball court, Beal isn’t the emotional, vocal player like John Wall has been. And unlike Wall, who cried during his contract-signing press conference, Beal remained composed, though he did get emotional when talking about his family toward the end.

On all basketball teams, it’s important to see stars complement each other. And with the Wizards, one of Wall’s assets is his emotional leadership, while Beal is a counter to that.

Beal opens up on why he turned down USA Basketball

Beal spoke to Ben Standig of CSN Mid Atlantic about his decision to turn down a roster spot for the USA Basketball men’s national team for the Olympics next month. This is was his rationale from Standig’s piece:

"It was tough," Beal said Wednesday about passing on an invitation to join Team USA in Rio this summer.

"I've always been a part of USA Basketball. I'm a firm believer in always playing in it. There is nothing like representing your country. The opportunity doesn't come around very often for a lot of players."

That Beal made those comments following the press conference for his new five-year, $128 million contract with the Wizards helps explain part of the rationale for passing on the potentially once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Missing 81 games over his four-year career in Washington does as well.

"The team was making a commitment to me," said Beal, who has never played more than 73 games in any NBA season primarrily because of leg stress injuries. "I haven't even played a full healthy season yet. There's a lot of things I took into consideration. [The Wizards] offered me this deal. I just want to come in with the Wizards first and give them priority because they believed in me. They're dedicated in me. I owe it back to them to dedicate myself, my body and my game to the team as well."

I’m cautiously optimistic that Beal will get another chance to be on the national team for the 2019 FIBA World Cup and/or the 2020 Olympics. If he stays healthy next season, there’s no reason why can’t get a shot.

Other Wizards news and stories

The Mystics are in freefall at the Olympic break

The Mystics finished their pre-Olympic break schedule with a 95-75 loss to the Los Angeles Sparks. They are now 9-15 and lost seven games in a row.

The “good news” about the losing streak is that Emma Meesseman averaged 17.1 points a game on 52.7 percent shooting from the field (and over 50 percent from three). But Tayler Hill shot 26.4 percent from the field in that same time frame, and Ivory Latta shot just slightly better: 26.8 percent. Guard play has outright sucked during this losing streak.

Our latest podcast touched on what the Mystics’ main issues were. Lyndie explained it quite well — they just don’t have a star to carry them when nothing else is going their way.

You may be a bit surprised that Lyndie didn’t mention anyone specifically on the team. Her biggest omission was ... Emma Meesseman, who is back home for her Olympic break:

I hope Meesseman’s having fun at home. Because, as of late, her consistent production is going to waste.

The pic says “Hello...? Is someone there?” in Dutch.

Like all other major figures of significance in D.C. sports, Meesseman listened to the podcast at Ieper’s Grote Markt. She wants answers!:

(Okay, it’s a horrible attempt at a Mii of Meesseman I created with Nintendo’s Miitomo app. And she switched to French! )

Okay, I’m having too much fun with that app on my phone.

But to be fair, Lyndie was on the podcast talking about the Mystics’ problems, not their main (and still improving) source of consistency this season. Yes, Meesseman has room for improvement, but she’s far from being a “problem” right now.

At any rate, the bottom line is that the Mystics aren’t doing well right now. We’ll talk more about the issues and their options in detail over the coming weeks.

Black Lives Matter impacts the Mystics and the WNBA

The Mystics were one of several teams to wear black shirts last Friday, in response to fines the league levied last week in response to altered shirts that the New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury, and Indiana Fever wore, most of which were in support of Black Lives Matter and to protest recent police shootings of African American men.

The fines were rescinded last Saturday and there will be more discussions between the league and the players union which Lyndie and Jake touched on in the Podcast.

Basketball complex expected to cost more

The cost increases are due to a change in the new arena design. The 5,000 seat arena is dropping to 4,200. Doesn’t sound too good for the Mystics, even with a two-level configuration.

Olympic basketball preparation is underway

You would think that everyone on the Select Team was a relative winner despite their 84-88 loss on Monday to the USA Basketball women’s national team. After all, Stefanie Dolson and Kahleah Copper were on the young squad that gave Team USA as good of a fight as anyone.

Unfortunately, Copper didn’t play and Dolson was the only Select Team player to be scoreless. To be fair, Dolson did grab three rebounds and dished three assists in just under 10 minutes of play.

The USA men’s team has played three friendlies over the past week — all of them big wins — and face Venezuela tonight.

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So, that’s all I have for this week’s links. If you have another link you’d like to share, go ahead and do so in the comments, or as a FanPost.