Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Wizards build sustainable model around Bradley Beal. Now, they must keep him

Bradley Beal, Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in Los Angeles Lakers v Washington Wizards

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 28: Bradley Beal #3 of the Washington Wizards shoots in front of Montrezl Harrell #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Capital One Arena on April 28, 2021 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Getty Images

NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

Bradley Beal might sign a contract extension with the Wizards once he becomes eligible next month.

Now, he might not. A max extension would be worth $181,301,299 over four years (or more if the salary cap increases more than projected). If he waits until 2022 free agency to sign a new contract with Washington, Beal projects to be able to get $242 million over five years.

But Beal signed a financially disadvantageous extension in 2019. Not only has Beal gone out of his way to state his loyalty to the Wizards, he put his money where his mouth is. The possibility of him doing so again can’t be ruled out.

Which is a victory for Washington after Beal reportedly considered requesting a trade earlier in the summer. He now appears set to stick with the Wizards.

If Beal forgoes the extension, Washington has until the trade deadline to find a solution. It’d be a HUGE risk to take him into 2022 unrestricted free agency, where he could leave with no return.

But the Wizards put their best foot forward by trading Russell Westbrook (and a handful of second-rounders) to replenish depth. Incoming:

  • Spencer Dinwiddie
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
  • Kyle Kuzma
  • Montrezl Harrell
  • Aaron Holiday
  • No. 31 pick Isaiah Todd

Dinwiddie was playing at a high level before tearing his ACL last year. It wouldn’t be surprising if next season he alone outplays Westbrook, who has been steadily declining since winning 2017 MVP and will turn 33 this fall.

Caldwell-Pope is a starting-caliber 3-and-D wing, though Washington would be a little small if both he and Beal start. Perhaps, Caldwell-Pope will be an overqualified reserve.

Kuzma is an inconsistent outside shooter, but his shot creation could be helpful off the bench. He really made himself into a solid defender with the Lakers.

Harrell has defensive deficiencies that become nearly unbearable in the playoffs. But for a team just trying to crack the rotation, his interior aggression – scoring, offensive rebounding – is a big plus.

Holiday flashed promise with the Pacers but never earned a big role. It’s time for Holiday, who turns 25 next week, to show what he can do as backup point guard. Re-signing Raul Neto for the minimum is a reasonable hedge. Cassius Winston (re-signed on two-way contract) could even factor at the position

Todd offers upside as a stretch big. No. 15 pick Corey Kispert, who’s fairly polished for his draft slot, has a clearer path to early playing time.

New coach Wes Unseld Jr. faces a challenge setting a rotation between all those players, Rui Hachimura, Deni Avdija, Daniel Gafford, Davis Bertans and Thomas Bryant (once he gets healthy). But too much depth is preferable to the problems Washington had.

It’s important to set the baseline. The Wizards were in dire straights entering the summer. As Westbrook’s play was declining, his massive salary was rising. Capped out, Washington was stuck. Returning to the playoffs appeared unlikely, and it looked only gloomier in the years ahead.

Though the Wizards aren’t even a postseason lock now – and paying Dinwiddie his $1 appears completely out of the question – their situation is so much brighter than before Westbrook asked to join the Lakers. Washington can compete now and, with cap flexibility over the coming years, remain competitive. There’s long-term viability around Beal.

In a quiet offseason throughout the league, the Wizards’ summer was arguably the best – especially if Beal signs the extension.

Offseason grade: B+