Every team in the NBA has hopes for advancing deep into the playoffs and winning a championship.
But it’s been more than four decades since the Washington Wizards reached the pinnacle of NBA success and it may not happen this upcoming season with one of the youngest teams in the league.
Still, the Wizards expressed optimism Monday during the team’s annual media day session at its practice facility inside the MedStar Performance Center at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in southeast D.C.
“I know a lot of people are doubting us, questioning, ‘How they are going to be? What’s their identity?'” said All-Star guard Bradley Beal at the platform before reporters. “It’ll be a year of patience and a year of learning and a year growing. … I’m not worried about other people’s opinion. These guys work hard [and] they want to win. That’s all I can ask for.”
Beal and center Thomas Bryant are the only returning starters entering this season, which begins Oct. 23 at the Dallas Mavericks.
All-Star point guard John Wall sported white Adidas flip-flops, but Wizards fans may not see him on the court this season as he continues to rehabilitate from an Achilles’ injury.
Two veteran pickups, Isaiah Thomas and C.J. Miles, are recovering from two procedures and won’t participate in this week’s training camp. Thomas had thumb surgery last month and appeared Monday without a cast. Miles underwent a procedure to repair a stress fracture in his left foot.
Troy Brown Jr., the Wizards’ 2018 first-round draft pick, strained his calf during a routine workout and could miss a month of action.
Of the 20-man roster distributed Monday, seven players are age 22 and younger that includes rookies Rui Hachimura, Admiral Schofield and Justin Robinson.
Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said one change from previous seasons is players arriving early this month.
“Going into every year we have expectations,” he said. “We have 10 new players. There’s going to be some challenges here. The guys who will be practicing are going to give us great energy. We don’t have a lot of Wizard knowledge right now, but we have a lot of high-character guys, so I think things are going to moving along pretty good.”
There’s some uncertainty with Beal as he enters his eighth season and still hasn’t signed a three-year, $111 million extension the Wizards offered him.
“The deal’s on the table, but I’m definitely just taking my time and just evaluating what’s best for my family,” Beal said.
As the Wizards completed their media day session, on the other side of the Entertainment and Sports Arena, the Washington Mystics stretched before practice in preparation for Tuesday’s Game 2 of the WNBA Finals. The Mystics lead the best of five-game series against the Connecticut Sun.
The game will occur as the Washington Nationals host a one-game wild-card playoff against the Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park in southeast D.C. Both are scheduled to start about 8 p.m.
“To know that two sports teams are fighting for a championship is an amazing boost [for the city],” said Mystics forward Tianna Hawkins, who graduated from Riverdale Baptist High School in Upper Marlboro. “I have conversations with my grandmother all the time and she says, ‘We need a championship.’ The [Washington Capitals] did it [last year]. The Nats have chance to do it. We have a chance to do it. Why not maximize the opportunity?”
Metro announced trains will stay open later than normal to accommodate fans at the Green Line stations of Congress Heights for the Mystics and Navy Yard-Ballpark for the Nationals. If either game extends past 11 p.m. Tuesday, Metro will flex its normal closing time and remain open an additional 20 minutes after that game ends.
However, the latest Metro will remain open is 12:22 a.m., one hour later than when the last trains usually depart the Navy Yard.
“While this announcement addresses the immediate concern around Tuesday’s games, the Metro Board will take up the broader issues concerning Metro’s closing time and accommodating fans during playoff season in the coming months,” the transit agency announced. “Thank you for your support of Metro. Go Mystics! Go Nats!”