Wizards

Ted Leonsis on where contract talks with Bradley Beal stand

Wizards

The Wizards just signed starting center Daniel Gafford to a contract extension, one that will keep him in Washington for many years to come. But they also have an offer on the table for another player, Bradley Beal, whom they hope will sign on the dotted line and join Gafford as part of the organization's long-term future.

The Wizards gave Beal an offer the moment they could on Oct. 1. He can sign for about $181.5 million over four years, or they could work out a shorter term deal as they did in 2019, the last time he was eligible for an extension and ultimately agreed to re-up for two more years.

Three weeks have now passed since the Wizards gave Beal their latest offer with no real update on negotiations. Beal said on media day in September he feels "no rush" to sign, given he can take a wait-and-see approach this season. General manager Tommy Sheppard has answered questions publicly on the matter, essentially saying the ball is in Beal's court.

But there are others at the proverbial negotiating table, including Wizards chairman Ted Leonsis. He gave his perspective on contract talks with Beal to NBC Sports Washington on Thursday night.

"Brad and I have a very respectful, very honest relationship. It's very similar to my relationship with Alex Ovechkin. He will obviously always do what's right for his family. We will do what's right for the organization. I believe -- and I think he believes -- that there is synergy in what's best for him and what's best for us. It's not something he's obsessing over or we're obsessing over," Leonsis said.

 

Leonsis made these comments the day after the Wizards won their season-opener at the Toronto Raptors, a convincing victory to begin a new era with Wes Unseld Jr. as head coach. They looked as advertised, displaying the defensive improvement and depth that was emphasized in their offseason.

They also won despite Beal only scoring 23 points in 34 minutes. The Wizards only won three games last season when Beal scored 23 or fewer points and only twice did they do so the season before. It has been a rare occasion in recent years for the Wizards to win when Beal had an off shooting night.

Beal himself acknowledged after the win how he felt more refreshed than usual in the fourth quarter. To Leonsis, that means their plan is working.

"I'm hoping that that smile that was on his face [Wednesday], having a good time as we won and he didn't have to carry the load, that that continues during the year," Leonsis said.

"What he wants most is to be in one place and to be the pillar and we've been continuing to build around [him]. Just improve and improve, [hoping] the community gets reactivated and then we can compete for a championship. I think that he's the kind of person whose family and his family is the kind of family we want to have a partnership with."

Beal, 28, made his first All-NBA team last season after leading the Eastern Conference in scoring for a second straight year. The Wizards want him to remain a big part of their future, but the decision is ultimately his.

For now, he and the Wizards can focus on basketball. But given he can opt-out of his contract after this season, the anticipation for whatever he chooses to do could mount before they may be forced to make a difficult decision of their own.