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Wizards offering Bradley Beal max contract extension will create interesting showdown

Wizards offering Bradley Beal max contract extension will create interesting showdown

Friday will mark three years since Bradley Beal signed a five-year max contract to stay with the Wizards beyond his rookie deal. With three years having passed, and two to go before he hits free agency, the Wizards will be eligible to offer him another contract extension. 

This one is projected to be worth $111 million over three years and the team intends to make Beal an offer "at the very first moment allowed," general manager Tommy Sheppard told ESPN.

Beal will have from Friday until Oct. 21 to make his decision and he doesn't have to pick the three-year deal. The Wizards are willing to give Beal a one- or two-year extension, if that is what he prefers. Those contracts would be worth $34.5 million or $71.8 million, respectively.

The reasons why the Wizards would offer Beal an extension are easy to see. Yet still, it seems like a safer bet that he won't sign it.

One glaring reason for that is, financially, Beal can simply make a lot more money if he waits.

If he re-signs with the Wizards in the summer of 2021, when he can hit free agency, he could make about $218 million over five years, according to Pro Basketball Talk's projections. If he left in free agency that summer, he could make $118 million over three years, slightly more than the $111 million the Wizards can offer now.

Where Beal can really strike it rich is if he makes All-NBA this season or the next. Then he would be in line for a supermax contract, which right now projects as $254 million over five years. The final year of that contract would pay him $58 million.

In all three of those scenarios — re-signing with the Wizards, leaving in free agency and signing a supermax — he would make more money annually from 2021 to 2024 than he would on the deal the Wizards can currently offer him.

If it’s only about the money, it is essentially a no-brainer for Beal to wait. But it isn't only about the money, as Beal detailed publicly towards the end of last season.

Back in April, when he was discussing the possibility of a $194 million supermax contract he ended up not qualifying for, he said he was more focused on winning than getting the biggest deal possible.

"I have a lot of money now, so money’s not the problem or the question. I wanna be able to know that we’re going in the right direction in the future," he said.

Though Beal has made conflicting remarks about his future with the Wizards, like how he "would 100 percent die in that Wizards jersey" in an interview with Yahoo! Sports, Beal's quest to play for a contender is no act. Now 26 and a two-time All-Star, he is tired of losing. He is getting restless.

Beal has been been closely watching the Wizards' offseason moves and will need to be further convinced on the team's long-term vision, according to a person familiar with his thinking. Beal has reached a point where he doesn't want to waste a year of his prime on a losing team.

The problem for the Wizards is that they didn't get better in the short-term this offseason. Though they created some important long-term financial flexibility and added youth and upside, they let more talent leave the organization than they brought in. After winning only 32 games last season, it seems likely they take a step back in 2019-20.

They are following the basketball equivalent of the old adage that sometimes you have to take one step back before you take two steps forward. But the path forward, at this point, is an abstract projection. It is a vision the Wizards need Beal to see and be patient enough to wait for. 

Add it all up and Beal signing the contract extension would amount to a surprise. It would go against what he has suggested publicly about his future goals and against financial sense. 

So, the real question might be what the Wizards and Beal should do in the event they don't reach an agreement. In today's NBA, it is not as simple as just moving on like nothing happened.

Beal is already the subject of rampant trade rumors despite the Wizards giving assurances both privately and publicly that they won't deal him. Nowadays, his Twitter mentions are instantly flooded with comments and memes from Miami fans about him playing for the Heat. If he turns down an extension, that speculation won't exactly go away.

Many times, it becomes untenable. Even though Beal is likely to say the right things and not formally request a trade — (he has vowed that he won't) — it would be difficult for him and the Wizards to control the narrative. 

The smart way to spin it, though, may be simple. Just say Beal is betting on himself. Any fan who recognizes the money he can earn by waiting should understand. Why take $111 million when you could potentially get $254 million?

It seems clear where all of this is headed. Beal will get the extension offer on Friday and, after taking his time to consider it, likely offer a polite rejection. How the Wizards go from there, though, will be fascinating.

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Elena Delle Donne thanks makers of face mask, knee brace after 2nd MVP honors

Elena Delle Donne thanks makers of face mask, knee brace after 2nd MVP honors

Most MVP award winners thank coaches, parents and anyone who helped them become great. Elena Delle Donne is not most people.

The Washington Mystic's superstar forward had a lot to be thankful for after receiving the second MVP honors of her career, creating a long list on Twitter. Some injury-preventing accessory manufacturers made their way high up on her list.

Delle Donne became the first woman player to shoot 50/40/90 splits over the course of an entire WNBA season this year, but she was perhaps more grateful for the apparrel that allowed her to stay on the court: her knee brace and face mask. 

The Delaware native often deflects praise onto her teammates and coaches when receiving accolades, but when EDD's knee is being held together by her bulky brace and her nose is feeling protected after a fracture earlier in the season, they definitely deserve the thanks. 

She had a gruesome knee scare in a Game 2 loss to the Atlanta Dream in the playoffs last season, and even missed some early season games this year in recovery. Still, Delle Donne wouldn't let her knee keep her out of action, as her 31 regular season starts were the most games she's played since 2015. It's been evident she's had an edge all season to help her Washington Mystics get back to the Finals, and this time finish the job. 

Delle Donne's face mask has also been somewhat of a fashion trend in recent weeks with star athletes around the District. Wizards all-star guards John Wall and Bradley Beal along with Redskins runing back Derrius Guice, all wore the face masks in solidarity when they came to support the Mystics at the Entertainment and Sports Arena. 

Despite Delle Donne's nose having been fully recovered, she's kept the face mask on during games for style and reassurance. Considering these ailments, it's impressive Delle Donne's shooting touch not only hasn't been affected, but instead has improved. 

After a Game 2 win over the Las Vegas Aces, Delle Donne and Co. have the opportunity to make their season mantra come true and #RunItBack to a second straight WNBA Finals appearance. 

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The Las Vegas Aces have no answer for the Mystics ‘missing piece’ Emma Meesseman

The Las Vegas Aces have no answer for the Mystics ‘missing piece’ Emma Meesseman

WASHINGTON – A year ago the Washington Mystics made it to the WNBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. Top-to-bottom they were a loaded team that finally made the jump led by one of the most talented women’s basketball players in the world in Elena Delle Donne. 

But Delle Donne was hindered, battling through a knee injury throughout the entire playoffs. There was no one to give her relief, which resulted in the Seattle Storm sweeping the Mystics in the Finals. 

A full 365 days and some change have passed. Nearly everyone returned to the Mystics for another go at a championship. The younger players added a year of experience. Expectations are just as high. This year though they believe that they already have what it takes to win a championship; Emma Meesseman came back to the team.

“Emma is the missing piece for us,” Natasha Cloud said after Game 2. “From last year’s to this year’s team she the difference-maker in making us a championship team. She’s putting us on her back… Emma is an All-Star of her own. I’m extremely proud of the player she’s grown into.”

The first leg of the WNBA Semifinals against the Las Vegas Aces in Washington saw different ways Meesseman can be the reason why the Mystics lift the trophy at the end of the season. 

Game 1 she led all scorers with a season-high 27 points. Thirteen of those came in a 26-point third quarter that erased a seven-point lead for Las Vegas. Her explosion allowed the Mystics to surge back into the game. Complementary to Delle Donne’s 25 points, they were a dynamic duo. Las Vegas couldn’t hone in on one of them when they were both on the court. Washington won by two.

Game 2 the Belgian matched that performance. Meesseman tied a career-high with 30 points going 11-for-19 from the field and 5-for-7 from 3-point range. A majority of those (22) came in the second and third quarters to take firm control of the game. Each time the Aces attempted to come back, Meesseman would hit another dagger. Washington won by 12.

“She ain’t missing any shots. That’s the main thing,” Aces’ Liz Cambage said on how they’ve been unable to stop Meesseman. “She came out tonight – [the Mystics] all shot so well tonight.”

Put her in the paint and the flex player posted up and drove against the 6-8 Cambage, or forced her out to clear the lane for other Mystics. Stretch Meesseman out to the arc and she knocked down threes over shorter guards. She’s a Swiss army knife for the Mystics, versatility that is similar to the 2019 MVP Delle Donne.

That comparison is drawn from her own teammates, including Cloud. One that Meesseman believes to be a big honor.

Last year Meesseman missed the season to take a break and work on her game. She was winded after the 2017 season and the toll that it took on her. While away from the WNBA, a lot of her time on the court was with the Belgium national team. There she had to be the team's primary scorer. 

This year in Washington, she’s applied that mentality and aggressiveness to her play. While she’s come off the bench for essentially the whole season, Meesseman has been a huge asset. Now, she’s starting with a big line-up for Washington.

“You can’t just have one or two [go-to players]. We need three or four to win a championship and [Messeeman has] embraced that this last part of the season,” Mystics head coach Mike Thibault said. “She was aggressive, she was looking for the ball, just there is a whole different body language to her about this right now.”

Only twice this season had the 6-4 forward reached 20 points for the Mystics. One was in the penultimate game in the regular season. Granted, she missed 11 games for her national team obligations, but it has been rare to see this explosion. 

"Emma has got a chip on her shoulder. She clearly was watching last year and wasn't happy with the result,” Delle Donne told NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller. “Emma is playing unreal basketball. She is so good, one of the greatest in the world. To add a piece like that and for her to step up like this has been so big for us."

But Meesseman doesn’t see herself as being the difference-maker. She’s just playing basketball and trying to contribute to an already established championship-level team. 

During Game 1’s postgame press conference Meesseman shut down being labeled as the “missing piece.”

“I’m not sure I agree with that-“ 

“Emma, stop it,” Delle Donne said. “We didn’t win Emma. We need you. I’ll take your 27 and 10 any night.”

She still isn't embracing that title after Game 2. Although if you ask the rest of the Mystics, Meesseman is alone in that regard.

Whether she likes it or not, Meesseman is the clear difference in the Mystics roster as opposed to the team that fell short in the WNBA Finals. When league historians look back at the 2018 and 2019 Mystics teams, she will stick out. 

The only question is will the “missing piece” push the Mystics to where they want to go. 

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