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Bradley Beal proved worth his max contract in first year of new deal with Wizards

Bradley Beal proved worth his max contract in first year of new deal with Wizards

Through four years with John Wall since he signed his deal and one year with Bradley Beal, the Wizards are a convincing 2-for-2 in handing out max contract extensions. Both Wall and Beal got paid handsomely and, despite their fair share of critics, each immediately got a lot better. They did something that is a lot easier said than done: once they got their money, they kept improving and in doing so made their contracts look better and better after actually signing them.

That's the best-case scenario for the Wizards and their front office deserves credit for both deals. They technically could have let either walk in free agency or traded them, as some in the media suggested they should. They chose to keep both for top-dollar deals and since have been rewarded for it.

Beal signed his new deal, a five-year contract worth $128 million, last July. It was a max contract for a guy who had never made an All-Star team and who had battled injuries, including last season when he only played in 55 games and only started 35. Naturally, some wondered if he was worth the money because of his problems staying healthy through four NBA seasons. 

But in his first year under a new contract, Beal achieved newfound durability. He had some minor issues here and there, but managed to play 77 out of the Wizards' 82 games and then appear in all of their 13 playoff games.

"If anything, I'm proud of that. I'm happy for myself, being able to be healthy for a full year," Beal said. "Being able to be on the floor, man, that's all I wanted. Just being able to be here. I knew if I was healthy that I would have a successful year. I had that opportunity this season."

[RELATED: Brooks proved a great fit in his first year with the Wizards]

Wall knows something about proving his critics wrong. He signed his max deal in July of 2013, before he had made an All-Star team and after he played just 49 games in an injury-plagued season. In the four years since, Wall has been an All-Star each time and this past season earned his first All-NBA selection.

Beal was not seleced for the All-Star Game this past year, but did put up career-bests in points per game (23.1), field goal percentage (48.4), free throw attempts (4.4) and assists (3.5). Wall believes his backcourt mate made a significant leap in his game.

"I feel like he should have been an All-Star. He's proven to himself that he earned his money when everybody said he didn't," Wall explained. "It's the same thing I went through. Now all he can do is take that as motivation going forward into next season. He has improved dramatically in so many areas that helped us and helped me and my game."

The ways Beal improved were obvious. His free throw attempts and field goal percentage naturally went up because he got better at earning his own shots. His ballhandling was worlds better: he developed a deadly stepback jumper and a respected crossover, and gained confidence attacking the rim.

Beal attempted 23.8 percent of his shots at three feet from the rim or closer, a career-high. He took 41.8 percent of his attempts from three-point range, also a career-high. For Beal, it was simple, spread the floor or attack the rim with impunity.

Beal's ability to break down defenses off the dribble led to more open shots. It also allowed him to run point guard at times within coach Scott Brooks' system, something many shooting guards aren't capable of.

Still, for Beal, it's the health that stands out most.

"The same thing is going to happen next season. I just have to stay within my regiment. No days off. Just continue to focus on my body and make sure I'm doing the right things," he said.

Beal has long been a dangerous shooter and above average defensive player and those attributes continued to improve in 2016-17. Now he can scare opponents with his dribbling and passing abilities. Add it all up and he's developing into one of the more complete players at the shooting guard position. That sounds like somebody who is worth the contract he signed.

[RELATED: Durant says don't blame him for lopsided NBA Playoffs]

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Wizards' 2018-19 storyline No. 4: How will all the expiring contracts work out?

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USA Today

Wizards' 2018-19 storyline No. 4: How will all the expiring contracts work out?

With Wizards training camp set to begin next week, we at NBC Sports Washington are counting down the five biggest storylines for the team as they start a new season. Today, at No. 4, a look at the amount of expiring contracts on the roster and how those situations will work themselves out…

One way or another, what happens for the Wizards in the 2018-19 season will be determined in part by seven players operating in the final years of their contracts. That seven does not include Dwight Howard, who has a player option for the 2019-20 season worth just $5.6 million. If he’s lumped into that group, only the L.A. Clippers have more players entering walk years.

The Wizards players in their contract years include Markieff Morris, Kelly Oubre, Jr., Austin Rivers, Tomas Satoransky, Jeff Green, Jodie Meeks and Jason Smith. That will present a unique dynamic to the Wizards’ roster and it may affect guys differently.

Some may thrive, knowing how much money they stand to gain with a big year before free agency. Others may succumb to the pressure as they find their niche on a team with a lot of added depth at several positions.

Let’s start with Rivers. The challenge for him will be going through his contract year while taking a reduced role from what he was used to with the Clippers. Last season, he started in 59 games and averaged 33.7 minutes and 13.2 field goal attempts.

Now in Washington, Rivers has to play second fiddle to two All-Star guards in John Wall and Bradley Beal. The minutes and shot attempts will almost certainly go down in a year where he would understandably want all of his numbers to go up.

Green may also have a smaller role than what he was in Cleveland where he started 13 games and averaged 23.4 minutes. But this is his fourth straight year playing on an expiring contract and knows what he’s getting into. He should be fine.

Meeks and Smith are in an interesting spot because they are longtime NBA veterans who don’t have defined roles entering this season. They, of course, would like to put up good enough numbers to earn their next NBA contracts, but will have a tough time getting minutes.

Oubre and Satoransky are in unique spots because this is the first time in their careers they have played in contract years. Oubre, in particular, has a lot of money on the line as a former first round pick who is just 22 years old.

A big year for him could mean a lucrative contract next summer. He has seen how breakout seasons in walk years has helped Beal and Otto Porter, Jr. get paid and surely wants to follow that same career path. The Wizards would certainly welcome that type of emergence from Oubre, as he could drastically transform their ceiling as a team.

Satoransky, 26, is older than Oubre, but has intriguing potential based on his athleticism and versatility. The problem, however, is that recent history shows his minutes are anything but guaranteed.

Morris is in his own category among the Wizards’ expiring contracts because he’s 29 and probably facing his best opportunity for a long-term payday. Morris also has some money to recoup from taking a hometown discount from the Suns years ago, one that didn’t pay off as he hoped.

Howard, though technically under contract for 2019-20, is susceptible to the same factors as the others on expiring deals. If he puts up strong numbers and helps the Wizards succeed, he could opt out and cash in.

The Wizards are confident the expiring contracts will not be a detriment to their locker room. But in order for that to be the case, the players will need to compartmentalize and focus on the team’s goals rather than their own. For some, that might be easier said than done.

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5 things to know about Wizards training camp invitee Lavoy Allen

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USA TODAY Sports

5 things to know about Wizards training camp invitee Lavoy Allen

On Wednesday the Washington Wizards added a six-year NBA veteran Lavoy Allen to their list of training camp invitees. 

At 29, Allen comes to the Wizards after being picked up by the Capital City Go-Go in the G-league's expansion draft.

Here are five things to know about the newest Wizard:

1. Allen spent the last season in the G-league

Although he has spent six years in the NBA, he was not as fortunate during the 2017-18 season. Last year he was on the court with the Northern Arizona Suns and only played in 10 of the squad's 50 games.

Averaging 21 minutes of action, he scored nine points a game and grabbed just over six rebounds. 

The last NBA franchise he played on was the Indiana Pacers, who declined their team-option in 2017.

2. At 6-9, Allen Recorded 22 rebounds in an NBA game 

Allen's second year in the association was arguably the best of his career. Ascending as a rotational for the Philadelphia 76ers, Allen started a career-high 37 games during the 2012-13 season.

None of his starts were bigger for him than a February win over the Charlotte Bobcats when he brought down 22 rebounds, 11 of them on the offensive end. He also recorded 14 points on 7-for-16 shooting. 

3. He's the all-time leading rebounder in Temple history 

As one of the best Owls to ever suit up, Allen has etched his name in the Temple record books. With 1,147 boards there is not a single Owl that has more.

During his collegiate career Allen carried Temple to four NCAA Tournaments. He also holds the record for games started and rebounds in a single season at Temple.

4. Played in France for a season after being drafted by Philadelphia

Philadelphia was the team that took a chance on the talented forward/center. After getting selected 50th in the 2011 draft, Allen had to wait before he jumped onto an NBA court. Due to the lockout, Allen had to play in France for IG Strasbourg, until the labor dispute was over.

5. Wrote "Go Pacers" on the Cleveland Cavaliers' Quicken Loans Arena 

At first this seems like the ultimate sign of disrespect. Then you look at everyone else's scribble on the hardwood and it is less impressive.

Still not too many players have this as a headline during an NBA playoff game. Less than two months after this picture, he was out of job.

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