Two things are on tap for Bradley Beal in the offseason, and both are connected: His health and a contract extension going into his fourth season with the Wizards.
Beal, the Wizards' leading scorer in the playoffs at 23.4 per game, is eligible for a new deal before the 2015-16 season tips in late October. If he can't come to terms, negotiations must be tabled until the end of his fourth season.
"I haven't thought about it. I haven't talked to my agent about it," said Beal after the Wizards were eliminated in the East semis by the Atlanta Hawks in six games. "I haven't talked to Ernie (Grunfeld) and those guys yet. I don't think I'm allowed to. It's up in the air. I'm just sitting back and still mourning this loss a little bit."
Beal, who still is on a rookie scale contract, is correct that negotiations can't open yet. That comes after the July moratorium, the period in which the new salary cap is reset following a league audit for the upcoming season. With the salary cap expected to explode in 2016 because of the new TV contract, Beal could sign a shorter deal than the maximum that has a player option and renegotiate another extension later.
Despite injury concerns, the Wizards are determined to keep their backcourt of Beal and John Wall together. Beal had problems with injuries again this season, including his lower right leg. After missing most of the preseason and nine regular-season games with a hairline fracture in his left wrist, Beal had a recurring stress reaction in his lower right leg that cost him almost a month just past midseason. Then he went down of Game 1 vs. Atlanta and was in tears because of a right ankle sprain. He played through it and prospered on both ends of the floor.
"That's my biggest goal this offseason, just staying healthy. That's kind of what's set me back each year I've been here," said Beal, who has had a stress reaction on the same lower part of his leg each season in the NBA. "If I can put together a full season I can be one of the elite players in this league."
Based on what Beal showed vs. the No. 1 seed Hawks, he's not exaggerating. He locked down Kyle Korver, the NBA's best three-point shooter (49.2%). He was more aggressive in looking for his shot. And when Wall went down for three games with a broken left wrist, Beal generated seven assists per game as well.
"I"m going to talk to the trainers because it's kind of a balance of picking your poison in what you want to do," Beal said. "It's really a comfort level of mine at the end of the day, talk to the doctors and what they think and the strength coaches."