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Ex-NBA exec on Beal: 'I guarantee you he'll be a max player'

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Ex-NBA exec on Beal: 'I guarantee you he'll be a max player'

All season, ever since the Wizards and Bradley Beal didn't reach an agreement on an extension before tipoff, I've trumpeted this point of view: He will get a max contract offer in the open market and the team will be obligated to match because the alternative is allowing their No. 3 overall pick from 2012 and best shooter/scorer to walk with nothing in return.

Amin Elhassan, a former front-office executive for the Phoenix Suns and currently a front-office insider for ESPN, spoke to D.C.'s ESPN 980 AM about Beal on Thursday. He was asked if Beal is/will be a max player when free agency opens July 1:

"That question is going to be so irrelevant July 1 because there are 20-plus teams that are going to have max space, 20-plus million dollars. It doesn't matter if you say, 'Well, I don't think so.' You wait long enough. I was talking to a front office executive from a team about a week ago and I said, 'Oh I can't wait for July 16.' He said, 'What do you mean July 16?' I said, 'We know all the good deals will be done in the first couple weeks but July 16 that's when the lights come on in the club and you're looking for anything to go home with. These teams are going to be throwing money at whoever has a pulse. Even if you don't think Bradley Beal is a max deal player, give it a week. I guarantee you he'll be a max player somewhere."

I've echoed this same logic as Elhassan, though not nearly as colorfully. If a max deal was about being an elite player, less than 10 players in the NBA would currently have them. That's not the case because it's not about Player A being better than Player B.

The whole purpose of free agency -- Beal is restricted, not unrestricted which gives the Wizards a chance to retain his services -- is for players who are vested to get a salary bump. For the first four years of Beal's contract, he's on a rookie scale contract that actually depresses his earnings. That's the same for every draft pick. Years vested in the league and seniority mean something which is why the veteran minimum, for instance, is $525,000 for zero years experience and balloons to as much as $1.5 million for 10-plus years.

RELATED: New report reveals why Gary Neal wasn't playing for Wizards

When Beal hits the market, despite his lengthy injury history, he'll command a max salary. That he has missed time this season for a shoulder contusion, a fourth stress reaction in his lower right leg, a broken nose and concussion and pelvic sprain are not an issue. He hasn't had a season-ending injury that has required surgery. Plus, he's 22.

It's basic supply and demand, and shooters/scorers in today's perimeter-oriented game come at a premium. It's also a futures market. Just because a player isn't at his ceiling (see John Wall when he signed his max deal in 2013) that doesn't preclude him from commanding a max deal. It's about if Beal is healthy. If their coaching staff can get the most out of Beal. If their medical staff can work some magic to keep him on the court longer. That Beal remains in the USA Basketball pool speaks to how highly he's regarded. Based on what he has done in the league maybe he doesn't belong, but if. League executives are of the same mind-set as Mike Krzyzewski. They all can't be stupid. Neither is Elhassan.

There's simply going to be too much money on the open market available as the salary cap grows from $70 million to about $89 million with a lot of expiring contracts because of the league's nine-year, $24 billion TV deal that kicks in for the 2016-17 season. Beal being paid a max salary has to be viewed through that prism to understand how -- and why -- someone will pay him. 

More from Elhassan from his days with the Suns:

I lived it. We had Amar'e Stoudemire in Phoenix. He had great years here, all-NBA years here, All-Star years next to Steve Nash. We offered a $100 million deal that was partially guaranteed. When I say partially I mean about 75 percent guaranteed. It was a good deal and a smart deal on our part because he had a medical history and what happened? The Knicks said, "We'll give you all 100 (million). One-hundred percent guaranteed. And Amar'e left. After the fact he said, 'I really really wanted to stay but I'm not going to pass up guaranteed money.' I think the same thing will happen if you play around with Bradley Beal. ... Someone out there does not care. Someone out there will pay him that money."

Just like a team paid Wes Matthews, fresh off an Achilles tear, $70 million (Dallas Mavericks). Just like a team paid Enes Kanter, who makes more than Marcin Gortat and produces less on both ends, $70 million (Oklahoma City Thunder) to keep him from falling into the hands of the Portland Trail Blazers. 

The Mavericks have won an NBA championship. The Thunder routinely are in the mix among the top three teams in the West. The Blazers are always competitive and have been a major surprise this season. Are their front offices dumb, too? They write these checks out of necessity unless they have certainty they can replace that player with someone better.

This is the cost of doing business in today's NBA. It's not about deserving a max deal. It's capitalism. Sometimes you have to pony up more than you'd like but that's what competitive bidding does. Those successful franchises threw max money at lesser players than Beal. And it's why the Wizards wouldn't be foolish if they must do the same. 

MORE WIZARDS: Nothing new for Beal if Wall can't play

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Wizards go cold late to drop Game 5, as Raptors take 3-2 series lead

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NBC Sports Washington

Wizards go cold late to drop Game 5, as Raptors take 3-2 series lead

The Washington Wizards lost to the Toronto Raptors 108-98 in Game 5 of their first round playoff series on Wednesday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Ice cold: When the Wizards needed it most, their offense failed them. With John Wall running the show, they can traditionally score with the best of them. But from the 4:05 mark in the fourth quarter, they went scoreless for a stretch of three minutes and 49 seconds.

Meanwhile, the Raptors converted turnovers into points to close the game on a 14-5 run. The Wizards shot brick after brick from long range and missed 11 of their last 15 shots. It was a shocking collapse in a game that had been going well for the Wizards.

By beating the Wizards in Game 5, the Raptors took a 3-2 series lead which historically means they have nearly an 83 percent chance of winning the series. Those aren't good odds for the Wizards, who can look at one area of the court to blame.

The Wizards made only five threes on 26 attempts. The Raptors, conversely, went 11-for-25 (44%) from the perimeter. The Wizards' five threes were their fewest in a game since Jan. 12.

DeRozan was a killer: As has been the case this entire series, DeMar DeRozan led the charge for Toronto. The perennial All-Star came out on fire with 20 points in the first half alone.

This time, it wasn't just free throws. He was 4-for-4 at the half, but 7-for-13 from the field and 2-for-2 from three. Usually, threes aren't his game.

DeRozan kept it up in the second half to score 32 points on 12-of-24 from the field. That's a pretty efficient night.

Otto looked a bit hurt: Otto Porter, who was held to nine points and four rebounds, didn't appear to be moving very well. He was running around with a limp, which suggests his right lower leg strain is still bothering him.

Head coach Scott Brooks said last week that Porter is 100 percent, but that doesn't seem like the case, unless there was some sort of setback in the time since. Porter, however, is such a smart player and such a good shooter that he can still make the most of his time on the court.

Solid start: The Wizards aren't used to playing well in the first quarter this series. They entered Game 5 with an average deficit of -7.2 points in the first quarter. In this game, however, they led by one point after one.

That was thanks to a buzzer-beater by John Wall (26 points, nine assists, nine rebounds). Ian Mahinmi got the offensive rebound and it set up Wall for a last-second shot. He got to one of his spots and sent it in:

It was just the second time in five games this series that the Wizards have been leading after one. The other time was Game 3, when the Wizards beat the Raptors handily to earn their first win.

Backup PGs: The Raptors again played without point guard Fred VanVleet, their best bench player and a guy who is arguably one of the best backup point guards in basketball. The loss has been evident for the most part, despite his replacement Delon Wright doing a solid job, including with 18 points in Game 5.

On Wednesday, Washington's backup point guard also shined. Despite not playing a single game during the regular season, Ty Lawson continues to make smart plays and create scoring opportunities for others.

He had four assists in this game and made one of the best plays of the night. Check out this move he put on to set up Ian Mahinmi:

And this dude was playing in China like two weeks ago? If he keeps this up, there will be an easy case to make that the Wizards should re-sign him for next season.

Clearly, they want Tomas Satoransky to play more off the ball and the coaching staff hasn't gained full trust in him. Lawson and Satoransky could make a solid reserve backcourt if they have some time to develop some chemistry.

Up next: The Wizards and Raptors are back at it on Friday night in Washington for Game 6. The tipoff time has not been announced, but the game will be aired on NBC Sports Washington.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

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Wizards hope this time will be different in Game 5 on road

Wizards hope this time will be different in Game 5 on road

The Wizards were in a very similar spot and less than one year ago. After dropping the first two games on the road against the Celtics in the second round of the 2017 playoffs, the Wizards held serve to lock up the series at 2-2. They then lost in Boston in Game 5 and ultimately dropped the series.

This year the Wizards find themselves at 2-2 against the Raptors, this time in the first round. Again, they are on the road for Game 5, knowing it will be pivotal and could determine the series.

This time, they hope for a much different result.

"It's super important," forward Markieff Morris said. "Ideally, what we're looking for us to come back [to D.C.] up 3-2 with a chance to close it out on our home floor."

The Wizards value continuity more than most teams in the NBA. According to Basketball Reference's roster continuity chart, they are the only team in the NBA to retain 75 percent of their roster year-over-year in each of the past three seasons.

The Wizards have kept 82 percent of their roster from the 2016-17 season. Only three teams have held onto more players: the Spurs, Blazers and, ironically, the Raptors.

Continuity can have its pitfalls. It can breed complacency and, for certain personality-types, discord. Things can very easily go stale.

But in this case, the fact these players have been in this same scenario before and know very well how important Game 5 is could work to the Wizards' advantage.

"I definitely will bring it up. I won't dwell on it. Just bring it up. We have to do better," head coach Scott Brooks said. "Hopefully those experiences will pay for us and give us that toughness that we don't want to be on the losing side of it again."

If the Wizards didn't already know the importance of Game 5, they could look at the historical odds. Teams that win Game 5 in a seven-game series tied at 2-2 go on to win the series 82.8 percent of the time with a 164-34 all-time record. Teams that lead a seven-game series 3-2 go on to win the series 84.8 percent (251-45) of the time.

The Wizards could also look at the home/road numbers. When series are tied at 2-2, the home team has a 22-13 record in Game 5 since 2003 and a series record of 26-9.

The Raptors not only won the first two games of this series at home, but they tied the Rockets for the best home record in the NBA this season at 34-7. One of those defeats were to the Wizards.

Washington, however, has to get over a hump on the road in the playoffs. Though they have won eight consecutive home postseason games, they have lost six straight on the road. The last one they won was in Atlanta in Game 6 of the first round last year. They did not win on the road against the Celtics in the second round and as a result lost the series.

Morris and Brooks offered keys to breaking that streak.

"On the road, you've gotta really lock in," Morris said. "I was telling the guys yesterday that when you're up 20 it's only really 10 when you're on the road because they have the crowd to give them momentum in the game."

"We have to have a better start. We have to bring that edge on the road," Brooks said. "We haven't seemed to get into an offensive rhythm there. I thought the second game actually helped. We were down by 23 or so and then really started moving the ball and attacking their feet. Even though we didn't win the game, it gave us some confidence."

Brooks was referring to Game 2 wheN the Wizards outscored the Raptors 61-54 in the second half. They held Toronto to just two threes during that stretch, including zero in the third quarter.

That may have been a breakthrough. Now they have to do it for 48 minutes.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

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