The contract extension Bradley Beal received from the Wizards in October of 2019 has not even started, yet this offseason he will be eligible to sign another one. The 27-year-old guard, who was an All-Star starter for the first time in 2020-21, once again enters a summer with his contract future in focus.
The Wizards will be allowed to negotiate a new contract with Beal, and are expected to try, according to a person familiar with their plans. But Beal has several factors to consider and, given the timing, can watch the Wizards' offseason play out before really thinking about it. The deadline for his extension, though yet to be specified by the league, will be in the fall.
Per ESPN's salary cap expert Bobby Marks, Beal can sign a contract with the Wizards worth about $181.5 million over four years this offseason ($45.4M annually), or wait until next offseason and sign for about $235 million over five years ($47M annually). He currently has a player option for the 2022-23 season, which was the second year on the two-year extension he signed in 2019, worth a projected $37.3 million.
Here's how Beal described his player option and the future in his postseason press conference earlier this month:
"[Trade rumors are] definitely going to increase more this year with me going into the last year of my deal. For me, I’m just relaxing and resting my body and we’ll evaluate all that once summer comes, when I meet with [team chairman] Ted [Leonsis] and meet with [General manager Tommy Sheppard]."
Beal can sign for $235 million next offseason, for $54 million more than he if signs this fall per Marks, because he would reach 10 years of NBA service. He would be qualified to make 35% of the salary cap, the same as supermax extensions earned by making All-NBA or defensive player of the year. Though Beal could make All-NBA once the 2020-21 teams are announced, it will not impact his earning power as it would have in previous years.
Pointing out the fact Beal can make more money if he waits is not to set an expectation for how negotiations could go. Few expected Beal to sign in 2019 when he did. He signed a short-term deal with eyes on the 10-year veteran max, which was made clear at the time.
But that doesn't mean he will follow that plan, or be tempted by free agency, as Beal has shown time and time again he is committed to winning with the Wizards rather than leaving to play elsewhere. He has gone as far to say he is not interested in joining a super team or even requesting a trade before his contract is up. Beal has taken a different approach than many of today's NBA stars.
The Wizards have also demonstrated a unique ability to convince their own players to stay. Leonsis and Sheppard helped pitch Beal on sticking around in 2019. They did the same with Davis Bertans last fall, and before that - when Sheppard was assistant GM - re-signed Beal to his first max contract, plus John Wall and Otto Porter Jr. agreed to new deals. Regardless of their results in the standings over the years, the Wizards have proven to be quite good at this.
If Beal wants to base his decision on how the offseason transpires, plenty could change in the next few months. They are considering their options at head coach and have indicated some aggressive moves could be in the plans. What if they trade for a third star to pair with him and Russell Westbrook? It's conceivable the Wizards could vastly improve their outlook this summer, to the degree Beal wants to commit for longer.
There is the money difference if he waits. But Beal can also sign for a higher salary and an extra year with the Wizards than he would with another team. There is also the appeal of short-term contracts for flexibility. Some NBA players have chosen shorter contracts to keep their options open. It can also put the onus on a front office to keep building.
Because nothing would likely happen until the fall, Beal's future will essentially be on the backburner all summer. The Wizards will decide on their head coach, then go through the draft and free agency first. After that, their biggest offseason storyline could be saved for last.