Washington Wizards star guard Bradley Beal is coming off yet another tremendous season for the fledgling organization.
Dealing with trade rumors on a near never-ending loop, the 27-year-old Beal averaged 31.3 points en route to leading Washington to a surprise playoff appearance.
The question now becomes whether Beal will remain in D.C. for the long haul. Despite the team’s success this past season, Washington’s organization has not done enough to build a solid supporting cast behind Beal. That changed to an extent with the addition of future Hall of Fame guard Russell Westbrook. However, it’s not yet known how many years Russ has remaining in his prime.
According to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington, the Wizards will look to lock Bradley Beal up on a max-level contract extension this summer.
“The Wizards will be allowed to negotiate a new contract with Beal, and are expected to try, according to a person familiar with their plans,” Hughes reported. “But Beal has several factors to consider and, given the timing, can watch the Wizards’ offseason play out before really thinking about it. The deadline for his extension, though yet to be specified by the league, will be in the fall.”
Interestingly enough, Beal signed a two-year, $71.8 million extension with Washington back in 2019. Said extension won’t kick in until next season and comes with an option for 2022-23. With that said, Beal is eligible for a new deal under the current NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement. Here’s a look at a few reasons why he should push back against linking himself to Washington over the long-term.
Bradley Beal can collect a bigger check next summer
It’s basic finances. The most Washington can offer Beal on a new extension this summer is $181.5 million over four years.
Should Bradley Beal play out the 2021-22 season and decline his $37.26 million option for 2022-23, he would be in line for a much larger payday from the Wizards. That could come in at $235 million over five years. That’s a cool $53.5 million more in guaranteed cash.
We’ve seen others push back against signing extensions due to the market dynamic and the increase in max-level contract values. Beal should be the next to follow suit.
Washington Wizards must prove themselves to Bradley Beal
Since Beal entered the NBA as the No. 3 overall pick back in 2012, his Wizards just have not been relevant on the broader league stage. They have not made it past the Eastern Conference Semifinals in any of their five playoff runs with Beal in the mix.
Despite earning a trip to the playoffs this season, Washington had to beat the Indiana Pacers in the play-in tournament. The team boasted a 34-38 regular-season mark — its third consecutive campaign with a losing record.
It was also pretty clear during their first-round series loss to the Philadelphia 76ers that the Wizards are nowhere near the upper-echelon of contenders in the Eastern Conference. Right now, Washington’s brass must prove to Beal that it can create a championship-caliber supporting cast behind himself and the aforementioned Westbrook.
Bradley Beal has his options
Whether the high-scoring guard looks to force a trade this summer or plays out the 2021-22 season before declining his option, there’s absolutely no reason for him to eliminate his options.
Recently, odds have favored the Golden State Warriors and New Orleans Pelicans as teams who could land Beal in a trade. Both likely offer him an ability to contend for a title short-term more than the Wizards. Golden State still boasts the dynamic duo of Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry. Meanwhile, teaming up with Zion Williamson in New Orleans has to be seen as an attractive option.
None of this takes into account the ascension of the New York Knicks as a relevant entity back east or other potential large-market contenders out west. Simply put, Bradley Beal shouldn’t close the door on these options while committing to a Wizards organization that has not proven it is worthy of him.