Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld put his massive right hand on Bradley Beal's shoulder as he walked off the practice court, just hours after contract talks on an extension broke off Monday before the 11:59 p.m. deadline.
"It's a weight lifted off my shoulders," said Beal, who was seeking a max contract extension in the fourth and final year of his rookie deal, of it being over for now. "It's business at the end of the day. We couldn't reach an agreement. It's not going to stop me from being the player I am. It's not going to stop me from continuing to work hard. Or it doesn't mean I'm not going to be part of the organization. I'm just controlling what I can control and let Ernie and my agent deal with it."
With both sides seemingly far apart, there was a "mutual" decision, Beal's agent, Mark Bartelstein, told CSNmidatlantic.com on Monday, to table talks until next summer. Beal will be a restricted free agent, which means the Wizards still will have the right to match any offer sheet to retain him. A person with the Wizards with knowledge of the situation confirmed Bartelstein's portrayal of the "mutual" decision. Both sides have been stuck in neutral since July.
Beal expects to be with the Wizards, who value their backcourt with him and John Wall. Beal likely will earn more than the five years, $80 million that Wall received two summers ago because the salary cap is expected to balloon from $70 million this year to $90 million next year and $108 million in 2017-18.
"Yes. Either way it goes they can match any offer. Hopefully I'll be here. That's my goal," Beal said. "I love being in D.C. I'm a cornerstone of this thing. I want to be part of this for a long time. It's unfortunate we couldn't get a deal done but here's no hard feelings. There's no beef between Ernie and I or the organization. We're still good."
Bartelstein, Beal said, explained to him the benefit of holding out to reach a deal. For the Wizards, they keep flexibility with option years on several contracts and some current ones that will come off the books completely. Plus, they own what's called "Bird rights" on Beal which means they'll be able to exceed the salary cap to re-sign him next summer because he's their free agent.
"That's what my agent and I, we sat down and talked about. And my family and I," Beal said. "It was a long process. It just makes sense that it was the best decision for us. On top of that, we want more flexibility for next summer to bring guys in. I'm confident we can win this year with the guys we have. They still have hopes and dreams of bringing a few players in here, too."
One of those players: Kevin Durant, who will be a free agent from the Oklahoma City Thunder and a D.C. native.
"It comes to a point where if you're confident in yourself, if you believe in yourself, it's going to fall into place for you," Beal, who has had three consecutive seasons of stress injuries in his lower right leg and realizes there's risk involved with waiting. "That's what I'm trying to do, play out my year and see how I do. If I get it, I get it. If I don't, I don't. At least I can sit here and say I did my best throughout the year."