The day of the 2022 NBA Draft was not nearly as eventful for the Wizards as draft day was a year ago when news broke they were trading Russell Westbrook to the Los Angeles Lakers. Despite speculation they would make a significant trade, this time the Wizards had a relatively quiet evening and came away with a solid player in Johnny Davis.
The real action for the Wizards' offseason is up ahead. By now everyone knows Bradley Beal has a major decision to make on his future; whether to re-sign with the Wizards or leave them in free agency after 10 seasons in Washington.
There will be several steps along the way, some far more newsworthy than others. The first thing to make clear is Beal's intention to opt-out of the final year of his contract is not and will not be news. Beal signaled he would do that months ago in a preseason press conference when he referred to the 2021-22 season as the final year of his contract.
Honestly, it could have been predicted years ago, all the way back in October of 2019 when he signed his max extension. The minor piece of news will be when he does officially opt-out, which he can do at any point up until June 29. That is the last day for decisions on player, team and early termination options.
The next day is when things could get very real. NBA teams can begin negotiating with free agents at 6 p.m. ET. Wizards president Tommy Sheppard expects to meet with Beal immediately once that window opens. Beal can sign a five-year deal with the Wizards for a projected $248 million, or leave to join another team on a four-year contract worth about $184 million.
In a recent interview with NBC Sports Washington, Beal said he has no plans to go on a free agency tour, at least as of now. The Wizards will evidently get the best opportunity they can hope for to get a deal done and quickly.
There is also the chance Beal signs with the Wizards for a little less than $248 million, but that is the maximum possible offer. Beal has hinted on several occasions he intends to re-sign with the Wizards.
That is also pretty much the consensus expectation around the NBA, NBC Sports Washington has learned through conversations with various agents and league executives. There is a certain level of disbelief that he will turn down the money, assuming it is offered.
One NBA agent said, "there's absolutely [expletive] no way he turns it down." The reasoning is simple, Beal is a very good player who at his peak has been third-team All-NBA. But he can be paid like an MVP and ensure himself a salary of a projected $56.4 million for his Age 33 season. That is a unique level of financial security. Two of Beal's former teammates, John Wall and Russell Westbrook, are testaments to that.
With the full supermax, Beal would guarantee his career earnings to reach over $400 million. The difference in contracts between signing with the Wizards and another team is an estimated $64 million. That, most believe, will be too good to pass up. Perhaps it's worth noting Beal is very investment-oriented and has dreams of owning a professional sports team.
It's also worth noting that Beal and his agent Mark Bartelstein designed his last max contract strategically for this moment. While back in 2019, many expected him to bet on himself and not sign a deal, Beal's camp lined everything up for him to qualify for a supermax based on 10 years of NBA service time.
Next year will be Beal's Age 29 season, which based on the career lifespan of most NBA stars likely puts him in the middle of his prime. The hope would be he can continue playing at a high level into his 30s.
Questions about Beal's future may resurface down the road, as he is an NBA star and those conversations rarely go away forever. The Wizards happen to have been involved in two trades involving supermax contracts in the last two years alone.
But for now, the majority opinion around the league seems to be the smart (and maybe obvious) business decision is for Beal to take the money and remain with the only franchise he has played for in the NBA. It is a franchise, by the way, which has made him the centerpiece of their brand. He is the face of the team and enjoys influence over personnel decisions. Sheppard has compared to him a "shareholder" in the organization.
Those perks would be difficult, if impossible, to find elsewhere. He is the Wizards and, at this point, the safe bet appears to be things will continue that way, at least for the foreseeable future.