Bradley Beal was in line to be the next NBA superstar to change teams.
His contract was up after next season and if he declined the Wizards' offer on an extension, it'd be time for Washington to ship him elsewhere. But then Beal agreed to a two-year, $72 million deal to remain in DC, giving the Wizards more time to build a contender around him and John Wall.
The decision shocked plenty of NBA talking heads. The player empowerment era that began when LeBron James formed a Big Three in Miami built up to an unprecedented amount of movement during this summer's free agency period. What was Beal thinking potentially wasting his prime on a lottery team?
As a guest on the Woj Pod with ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Beal opened up on his decision-making process and how he went to future Hall of Famer Ray Allen for advice.
"I talked to Ray Allen during the summer," Beal said. "He was in Milwaukee and Seattle and those years were rugged you know, they weren't always great but he was one of the best players and he was always making sure those teams were in the playoffs or making some type of noise.
"He was like, 'Ultimately it's your decision. The only person that can make Brad happy is Brad, and you have to what's best for you,'" Beal said.
Allen spent a little over six seasons with the Bucks to start his career and then over four seasons with the Supersonics. He was a seven-time All-Star, went All-NBA twice, but made the playoffs just four times over that 10-year span.
It wasn't until Allen's age-32 season with the Celtics where Allen finally won a championship. It's not the career path many superstars are interested in nowadays, but Beal seems ready to make the most of the hand he's been dealt in Washington.
"It was kind of a no-brainer, just duke it out and make it work," Beal said. "My leadership has to grow, it's kind of growing every day, but I feel like I have a natural knack for it.
"You can't think about, 'Is the grass greener on the other side? Are we not going to be as good here?' You can't necessarily think in those terms because you can always play 'Devil's Advocate' on the other side, so for me, it's just sticking to your guns."
Wall is most likely out for the remainder of the season and the Wizards are off to a less-than-inspiring 2-7 start this season, but Beal is ready for the challenge.
With Rui Hachimura finding his own and Tommy Sheppard making shrewd moves along the margins in the front office, Wizards fans can feel good about the direction of their franchise now that Beal is locked up for the next three seasons.
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