On Friday, the Washington Wizards held a press conference to formally announce the signing of Bradley Beal to a five-year, $251 million contract at Capital One Arena. Beal, General Manager Tommy Sheppard, and Head Coach Wes Unseld, Jr. were at Capital One Arena. Monumental Sports & Entertainment CEO Ted Leonsis was on Zoom.
Leonsis was the first to speak, noting that he wanted to “build a team that has upside and can improve” the Wizards. He also noted that Beal, the front office and himself are on the same page in terms of which direction they want to go:
"Brad wants to win;— Bullets Forever (@BulletsForever) July 8, 2022
We want to win;
I want to win." - Ted Leonsis
At the conference, Beal announced that he was humbled by the contract. However, he also noted that a celebratory day for him also comes at a tumultuous time in America and abroad. Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner is still incarcerated in Russia, where she pled guilty to cannabis possession. There was a mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois and more shootings in his hometown of St. Louis during Fourth of July weekend.
Leonsis also first noted that he wanted to give his condolences to the family of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated this morning in Nara. If this signing announcement came at a different time, perhaps everyone would have been a bit more cheerful. But today, everyone was muted.
Beal’s goal this offseason and next is to “just get better every day,” without saying how many regular season wins he anticipated the Wizards getting.
Leonsis, also stressed that the Wizards have rebuilt without blowing it up, and that the team is possibly just “one free agent away” from breaking through.
He has called their combination of draft picks, solid vets (Morris/Barton/Wright) and their Beal/Porzingis as a way to rebuild without blowing it all up.— Bullets Forever (@BulletsForever) July 8, 2022
"We're going to do everything we an to get that mix right" - Leonsis
"We're a free agent away"— Bullets Forever (@BulletsForever) July 8, 2022
Ted is calling the Wizards his focus and he wants to win.
Leonsis also seemed to look frustrated with the Wizards’ lack of postseason results, compared to other teams in the Monumental family, like the Mystics, Capitals, Wizards District Gaming and the now-defunct Washington Valor. He specifically mentioned that he was able to develop the Mystics and Capitals into championship-winning teams AND keep their cores together.
"We have a pretty good hockey team" - Ted pointing to the Capitals and the Mystics as examples of building and keeping championship caliber teams together.— Bullets Forever (@BulletsForever) July 8, 2022
We’ll have to pick a bone here with part of that statement. The Mystics and Capitals have won championships, but they haven’t been contenders since.
The Mystics have yet to advance past the first round of the playoffs since 2019, their championship season. It’s largely due to a combination of Elena Delle Donne’s injury woes, other key departures like this one, and some other younger teams’ cores hitting their collective prime, like the Las Vegas Aces. This season, the Mystics seem to be in better shape, but I find it difficult to see them winning the Finals. The Capitals have kept Alex Ovechkin and Niklas Backstrom since the 2017-18 Stanley Cup championship season, but they too haven’t won a single playoff round since.
Perhaps we may be overanalyzing his body language, but it’s evident that Leonsis wants the Wizards to do better.
You can sense the Wizards being his one team that isn't winning at a championship level is driving Ted.— Bullets Forever (@BulletsForever) July 8, 2022
You can debate & discuss amongst yourselves whether he's driving on the right side of the road.
With Beal’s press conference and announcement now in the books, the hard work soon begins. He and Kristaps Porzingis have to form a very strong duo of All-Stars while their recent acquisitions take it up a notch. Do you think the Wizards have enough talent to make it back to the playoffs this season? Do you feel the Wizards are now truly “one free agent away?” Let us know in the comments below.