While this weekend's news regarding Bradley Beal considering his options may have seemed at first like just another rumor involving the Wizards star, there are some indications this time it is more serious.
Now, Beal has given the Wizards no signs he is unhappy, at least not yet, according to a source with the team. He has, according to the source, remained in contact with the front office as recently as this weekend and nothing of the sort has come up, a source with the team told NBC Sports Washington.
But questions have arisen following a story by Bleacher Report released on Saturday that Beal feels uncertain about the Wizards' future in part because of trade rumors mentioning Russell Westbrook, and is weighing his options. Thursday's draft has been cited as a mile marker, given the Wizards could theoretically trade Beal for 2021 picks.
The Wizards have not received any indication Westbrook wants out, either, the team source told NBC Sports Washington. There was also pushback from the source with the team on the draft being a deadline for the Wizards to decide their course. That could apply more to teams whose offers would center around 2021 draft picks, as the Wizards have Beal under contract through next season and technically have until the trade deadline to weigh the risk of him leaving in free agency.
Beal has been the subject of trade speculation as he has ascended to stardom in recent years, though those rumors quieted down during this past season when the Wizards went on a run to make the playoffs for the first time since 2018. It's worth noting his agent, Mark Bartelstein, has gone on the record with strong denials of some rumors in the past, but Beal and his camp have not responded publicly this time around.
As Beal mulls his future, which the Athletic reported could result in a decision this week, there are several teams considered more intriguing than others, according to someone familiar with Beal’s thinking including the Warriors, Heat, Celtics, Blazers, Lakers and Mavericks.
Also interesting is the Thunder are making it known around the league they are willing to be the third team in a deal, a league source told NBC Sports Washington. They have loads of draft picks and have the third-most cap room in the league entering this offseason.
Beal has long maintained his commitment to the Wizards, even throughout the two seasons prior to 2020-21, while teammate John Wall was injured and he was the centerpiece of teams that won 32 and 25 games, respectively.
Though they took a step forward this past season, all sides seem to agree a first-round exit won't cut it moving forward.
It should be noted, however, that general manager Tommy Sheppard has been able to calm the noise before. He surprised many around the league in 2019 when Beal signed a contract extension to stay in Washington. The team also has a strong track record of retaining their own players going back to when Sheppard was the assistant GM.
The extension Beal signed in 2019 is about to kick in for the 2021-22 season, for which he is due to make $34.5 million. He then has a player option for the following year worth $37.3 million.
Beal himself referred to the upcoming season as the "last year" of his contract.
The Wizards have been able to get Beal to commit to their future each time these questions have come up in the past. Can they do it again?