What was the most uncertain part of the Wizards' future is now clear, as All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal has agreed to a two-year contract extension worth $72 million to remain in Washington through at least the 2021-22 season with a player option for 2022-23, NBC Sports Washington has confirmed. He and the Wizards came to terms just four days before the deadline to do so was set to pass.
The news comes as a bit of a surprise, as most believed Beal would wait to potentially make more money down the road. He could have bet on himself to make All-NBA this season and earned a supermax contract. But this decision gives him financial security through his Age 29 season with the ability to reset in free agency. With the player option, he can line up for a lucrative deal in just three years.
As Adrian Wojnarowski noted in his initial ESPN report, Beal could earn a deal worth $266 million over five years if he declines his player option, as he will then have 10 years of NBA service under his belt. If he opts to leave in free agency in the summer of 2022, he could still net a contract worth $198 million over four years with another team.
So, either way Beal will get paid and this contract solidifies his commitment to Washington and their plan to build around him. It also likely disappoints a handful of teams around the NBA that saw Beal as an enticing trade target. The Wizards continued to deflect offers this summer even with general manager Tommy Sheppard saying publicly they wouldn't deal him.
The Wizards can now breathe easy for at least another year when it comes to Beal. If they let the deadline pass, next summer would have forced a tough decision with him being one year away from free agency. Washington may have had no choice but to trade him or else risk losing him for nothing the following summer.
It is not the way most predicted it would go, but then again the Wizards have been able to buck league trends in this regard consistently in recent years. In an age where NBA stars move from team to team, the Wizards have been able to keep their own All-Star players happy and re-sign them over and over.
They signed John Wall to a max contract and then a supermax deal. And this is Beal's third contract with the team, the second time he has decided to re-sign.
That just doesn't happen around the league. Even when the collective bargaining agreement creates incentives for players to stay, where they have to forgo tens of millions of dollars to leave their original teams, many guys still run for the exits.
The Wizards, though, have been different in the way they have been able to build strong relationships with their stars to the point where they want to stay, in this case even with the team more likely to finish outside of the playoff picture this season than not. Beal wants to win, but he has clearly been sold on the team's long-term vision and is willing to apply the necessary patience to see it through.
Whether you agree with the decision to keep Beal or not, Sheppard and the Wizards' front office deserves a good deal of credit. They successfully convinced a star in his prime to do something very few of his peers would likely do if given the same choice.
Keeping Beal and Wall has also been a departure from the team's history. The Wizards at one point not long ago were known for developing star players only to let them go and watch them win elsewhere. It happened with Chris Webber, Rasheed Wallace, Richard Hamilton and Ben Wallace. Three of them teamed up to win an NBA title in Detroit.
Now, with Beal's future more secure, the tone of the Wizards' season will change. The results may not be different at all, but any potential distraction of whether he will want to leave has been eliminated, or least tabled for another date.
Wizards fans may not have expected this, but Beal isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
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