- The Washington Times - Friday, December 4, 2020

Bradley Beal still quite can’t grasp what it will be like to face John Wall this upcoming season.

Beal and the Wizards found out Friday precisely when they’ll match up against Wall and the Houston Rockets twice in coming months — once in Houston on Jan. 26 and another when Wall makes his return to Capital One Arena on Feb. 15 — as the league released its schedule.

But when asked what he thinks the experience will be like, Beal said he honestly didn’t know.

“All my career, all I know is John,” Beal said. “He’ll probably try to give us 60. And we’ll do everything in our power to keep that from happening. … It’ll be emotional on both sides.”

Speaking to reporters for the first time since Washington traded Wall to Houston for Russell Westbrook, Beal said learning of Wall’s departure was a “tough pill to swallow.” He added he’s excited to play with his new teammate, but called Wall “a brother” as he reflected on their relationship.

Together, Wall and Beal made the postseason four times and advanced past the first round on three of those occasions. They formed an All-Star backcourt who held great respect for one another.

On Thursday, the day after the trade, Wall visited the Wizards’ practice facility to say his goodbyes. Beal, who was drafted two years after Wall, said their last interaction was emotional.

“It was tough, man,” Beal said. “You realize that relationship was so strong, but it was so crazy. A lot of people tried to break us apart, a lot of people tried to put us apart, tried to pit us against each other. And it was just always crazy because when we came together and had those conversations, it was the total opposite of those rumors and everyone making noise. It was the total opposite.

“That’s a brotherhood that will never be thrown away. Our relationship continues. But that last conversation spoke volumes. It spoke volumes for him to just come back.”

Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard called dealing Wall one of the toughest moves of his career. He said he believes that Westbrook, a nine-time All-Star, will help the Wizards ultimately improve, but said the decision wasn’t easy.

“To acquire one of the very best point guards in the NBA, you have to give up one of the very best point guards in the NBA,” Sheppard said. “I don’t take any of that lightly. That’s a decision that I felt put the Wizards in the best possible position to be successful this season.”

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