Bradley Beal, the Washington Wizards’ star guard, is coming off another outstanding season for the fledgling organization.
Despite dealing with trade rumors on a near-daily basis, the 27-year-old Beal averaged 31.3 points per game while leading Washington to a surprise playoff appearance.
The question now is whether Beal will stay in Washington for the long haul. Despite the team’s success this season, Washington’s management has not done enough to develop a strong supporting cast for Beal. With the addition of future Hall of Fame guard Russell Westbrook, this has changed to some extent. However, it is unknown how many years Russ has left in his prime.
“According to a person familiar with the Wizards’ plans,” Hughes reported, “the Wizards will be allowed to negotiate a new contract with Beal, and are expected to try. “However, Beal has several factors to consider and, given the timing, can watch the Wizards’ offseason unfold before making a decision. The league has yet to specify a deadline for his extension, but it will be in the fall.”
Beal, interestingly, signed a two-year, $71.8 million contract extension with Washington in 2019. The extension will not take effect until next season and includes a 2022-23 option. Having said that, under the current NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement, Beal is eligible for a new contract. Here are a few reasons why he should resist linking himself to Washington in the long run.
It’s all about money. Washington can only offer Beal $181.5 million over four years on a new contract extension this summer.
Bradley Beal would be in line for a much larger payday from the Wizards if he played out the 2021-22 season and declined his $37.26 million option for 2022-23. Over a five-year period, this could cost $235 million. That’s an extra $53.5 million in guaranteed cash. Others have resisted signing extensions as a result of the market dynamic and the increase in maximum-level contract values. Beal should be the next to do so.
Since entering the NBA as the No. 3 overall pick in 2012, Beal’s Wizards have simply not been relevant on a larger league scale. They have never advanced past the Eastern Conference Semifinals in any of their five playoff appearances with Beal.
Despite qualifying for the playoffs this season, Washington had to defeat the Indiana Pacers in a play-in tournament. The team finished the regular season with a 34-38 record, its third consecutive losing season.
It was also clear during their first-round series loss to the Philadelphia 76ers that the Wizards are not among the top Eastern Conference contenders. Right now, Washington’s management must demonstrate to Beal that it can assemble a championship-caliber supporting cast around him and the aforementioned Westbrook.
Whether the high-scoring guard seeks a trade this summer or plays out the 2021-22 season before declining his option, there is no reason for him to forego his options.
The Golden State Warriors and the New Orleans Pelicans have recently been favored as teams that could acquire Beal in a trade. Both are more likely to provide him with the ability to compete for a title in the short term than the Wizards. Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry remain the dynamic duo for Golden State. Meanwhile, joining forces with Zion Williamson in New Orleans has to be viewed favorably.
None of this takes into account the New York Knicks’ ascension as a relevant entity in the east or other potential large-market contenders in the west. Simply put, Bradley Beal should not rule out these possibilities while committing to a Wizards organization that has yet to prove itself worthy of him.