T-Mac says Beal should favor winning in free agency decision


Who has the most leverage in the upcoming contract negotiations between Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards depends on whom you ask.

On one hand, the Wizards are well-positioned because they can offer Beal roughly $64 million more than another team can and over a five-year deal rather than four. Beal, though, ultimately holds the cards because it's his choice and, as a three-time All-Star, he is going to have suitors.

Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady was a star NBA player himself, and one who was a highly sought after free agent during his prime, so he can relate to Beal. Because of that, it's perhaps not surprising he sees the ball as being in Beal's court.

NBC Sports Washington caught up with McGrady in a recent conversation about the Ones Basketball League, a 1-on-1 basketball league, and asked him about Beal's upcoming decision. T-Mac had a lot to say about Beal's game and why he should favor winning as he looks ahead to his 11th NBA season.

"It all depends on where he's at mentally in his career. Like, I know he wants to win a championship. Does he think he can win a championship in Washington? That's a question I think he can answer based off of the history [he has] with the Washington Wizards," McGrady told NBC Sports Washington.

"Weighing the options of what teams have the money for him to go to and whatever those teams are, are they competitors for a championship? I think he has the ability and should weigh his options as a free agent on being able to put himself in the best situation to win."


That sounds a bit like what Beal said recently in an interview with Bleacher Report about his contract future. He cited winning as a determining factor in where he will sign. It should also be noted Beal has previously indicated he is leaning towards re-signing with the Wizards.

The Wizards missed the postseason last year after making it the season before. They have made the playoffs once in the last four seasons after getting there in four of the previous five, all with Beal in the mix.

The closest Beal has been to competing for a championship in Washington was in 2017 when he and John Wall led the Wizards to Game 7 of the second round when they fell to Boston. The Wizards are hopeful their current group of young ascending players, plus Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma, has them on course to make a big jump this upcoming season.

Beal, though, would be key to doing that. Even after an injury-shortened 2021-22 season, he remains the best player on the team and would be difficult to replace.

McGrady said he has followed Beal's career for years and could tell long before he led the Eastern Conference in scoring in consecutive seasons that he was capable of reaching that level. He remembers trying to light a fire under Beal before he made the leap to stardom.

"I love Bradley Beal's game. I got on Bradley Beal few years ago because I felt like he's such a, he's one of those dynamic scorers that can just score inside or outside. He just has that ability to put up 40, even 50 on some nights in an NBA season. I was like he should have been had a 50-point game because of how dynamic he is but I think he was a little bit, he wasn't selfish enough to go out and get that. But I love his game," McGrady said.

That must have been before Beal's first career 50-point game in 2017. He has five total 50-plus point games in his career, including a 60-point career-high against the Sixers on Jan. 6, 2021 (yep).

McGrady has been paying close attention to Beal's career and he's paying close attention now. He has an idea for where Beal could go if he decides to leave the Wizards in a sign-and-trade, which would be the Wizards' best fallback option if he does decide to leave.

"Miami would be a very dangerous team and possibly even win a championship with Bradley Beal along with Jimmy Butler and what they have down there. Just a phenomenal player and that'd be perfect. I hate to be saying this to you," McGrady said, sensing his audience.

"I'm just telling you the truth. He's been faithful to the Wizards, man. It's time for him to play for a championship."