WASHINGTON -- In the wake of multiple stories detailing infighting, outbursts at practices last week and the possibility of trading any player on the roster -- including All-Star guards John Wall and Bradley Beal -- the Washington Wizards attempted to put a brave face on the situation Tuesday.
Following the team's morning shootaround at Capital One Arena ahead of Tuesday night's game against the LA Clippers, head coach Scott Brooks, along with Wall, Beal and Otto Porter, tried to downplay the obvious tension surrounding the franchise after a 5-11 start.
"It happened last week," Brooks said, part of a three-minute opening statement to the media before he took questions. "We moved on from it as a team. Not trying to minimize what happened, but in all sports, all teams I've been on -- I've been in the league for almost 30 years as a player, as an assistant coach, as a head coach -- that has happened.
"It's something that you understand that it's a competitive environment and a lot of times, you have adult conversations that get heated. And we all have to live with what we say and work things out when that does happen and move on."
Wall had 30 points and eight assists and Beal had 27 points and seven assists to lead the Wizards to a 125-118 win Tuesday.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday that the Wizards are open to moving anyone on the roster, including Wall and Beal, in an attempt to shake things up after a far worse start than the organization had hoped for.
But the team's poor play, combined with contracts for Wall and Porter that are deemed to have neutral or negative value by most teams, leave the Wizards with a tepid trade market. Beal, on the other hand, has drawn significant interest from teams around the league -- if Washington actually considers moving on from the 25-year-old shooting guard.
"I'm not going to be naive to it, you know," Beal told reporters Monday about the possibility of being traded. "I've heard those rumors weeks ago. Then, I didn't buy into them. Now, I'm still not going to buy into them because if that's my main priority and focus, then I'm going to be messed up on the floor."
In addition to the trade rumors swirling around the team, the Wizards also are trying to manage the fallout from the revelations of incidents at practice last week. Those included Wall telling Brooks to "f--- you" after he interrupted an argument between Brooks and Wizards forward Jeff Green, according to Wojnarowski.
"That's something that goes on throughout the NBA. It's something we've put past us," Wall said. "We talked about it, apologized about it, kept it at that.
"I don't know if honesty was reached. We both felt like there was stuff we shouldn't have said. We both kind of interrupted each other when we were having conversations. That's basically it. There's a lot of frustration. When you go through a lot of frustrations, the flames build up in one situation and you kind of get to that. That's why we both apologized, and I left it at that."
When asked about the trade rumors involving him, Wall said, "I love being here. I want to finish my career here, that's all I can control.
"I'm playing basketball. I can't control that [trade talk]."
The Wizards enter Tuesday night's game three games behind the Charlotte Hornets for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and with a difficult schedule ahead. Washington's final six games this month all come against teams with winning records.
"We've got to keep moving," Beal said. "We've got to keep moving. It's easy when you're losing to pinpoint it on, 'Oh, there's problems. They don't get along. They fight.' It's easy to do that. It's easy to do that.
"I'm not going to get caught up in it and my team damn sure isn't, so we're just going to come out and compete every night and do what we can to win. Because that's what we're here to do."
With Dwight Howard missing Tuesday's game and being listed as day-to-day with aggravated gluteal soreness, Brooks used the opportunity to shake things up a bit. He put second-year center Thomas Bryant in the lineup in place of Howard, explaining his decision by wanting to see more of Bryant's "energy and effort" -- two things the Wizards have sorely lacked.
In addition, Brooks also dropped Markieff Morris from the starting lineup, inserting Kelly Oubre Jr. at small forward and shifting Otto Porter Jr. over to power forward to fill out Washington's frontcourt.
"We'll see what we can do differently," Brooks said. "Sometimes change for everybody is good. Change is good sometimes ... coach's decisions are not easy. It's not an indictment of [Morris] not doing something; it's an indictment of our team not doing what it is supposed to do. Sometimes a change in the lineup can help."
When asked if this was a permanent change, Brooks said, "I don't know. It is all fluid."