The Washington Wizards entered the NBA offseason needing to convince Bradley Beal to sign a new contract and to make the necessary moves to become a playoff contender. While Beal is returning, it seems many remain skeptical about the ladder.
Washingon struck early, trading Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith to the Denver Nuggets for Monte Morris and Will Barton. Soon after, the organization signed Beal to one of the largest contracts in NBA history.
The front office wasn’t done making changes to the roster. Washington signed Taj Gibson immediately after he became available and then spent the 10th overall pick on guard Johnny Davis. However, making moves in the offseason hasn’t exactly inspired confidence in the Wizards for top NBA analysts.
On a recent The Lowe Post podcast, Zach Lowe of ESPN addressed the Wizards’ offseason moves. From their decision to include a full no-trade clause in the Beal contract to the roster they’ve constructed, the NBA analyst just doesn’t see it working.
There are fair concerns to raise with Washington. Even if Kristaps Porzingis stays healthy and Beal maintains his level of play, there isn’t enough high-end talent to be a true problem in the Eastern Conference.
Realistically, the Wizards will still be far behind the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors, Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Guardians. At best, they are looking at a first-round playoff exit.
There is another problem with that outcome. Washington just made Beal one of the highest-paid athletes in sports and his value around the NBA seems to be declining. Lowe made the case against the All-Star guard, pointing to the Wizards’ front office missing its moment years ago to trade him.
Beal will average more than $50 million per season over the life of his contract, including a $57.128 million player option before his age-33 season. NBA evaluators know the type of player he is at this point and even with a rising salary cap, taking that financial hit for a player who would be the secondary star on a championship contender depreciates any trade value he might have. Of course, Beal can now block any trade.
As for how they could improve the roster, Lowe doesn’t see any real promising outcome based on the uncertainty with the young assets on the roster.
“The future here is they’re almost like the Knicks in that they have all these young players that nobody quite knows what to make. Their only move, if they keep Beal, is to somehow compile some of those players and whatever picks they can trade into… a Damian Lillard or somebody who can help their team, a superstar x. I just don’t know if they can win the bidding for that player even against the Knicks, who have way more draft equity.”Zach Lowe on Washington Wizards lack of ability to strengthen roster
Ultimately, all of this sets up for a familiar outcome. The Wizards likely compete for the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference and then immediately get bounced in the first round. There will be trade rumors about Beal every summer, but he’s proven he wants to stay with the team that drafted him.
While there are certainly worse experiences a fan base can go through, it’s also evident the ceiling and floor for potential outcomes it underwhelming.
Related: NBA offseason schedule