Over $3 billion in new money was passed out in 2019 NBA free agency—one of the more highly anticipated classes in league history. Now, after Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis established a cultural change by disassembling its entire executive hierarchy for a new and unorthodox lead brass, new general manager Tommy Sheppard’s biggest priority is giving All-Star Bradley Beal his due.
Sheppard proved to be a man of his word and didn’t waste time, as the full three-year, $111 million contract extension was offered Friday, the first day Washington had permission, too. As speculation intensifies on Beal’s decision, one of three things will happen:
Option 1: Accept the three-year extension, locking him under contract until 2024, with two years already on his deal until he’s 31 years of age.
Option 2: Beal signs a one- or two-year extension, worth $34.5 or $71 million, conjointly. This method extends Washington’s clock to pitch Beal on re-signing, by improving the team through draft selections, trades and free agency. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN acknowledged that the Wizards may do this on July 22.
Option 3: Beal passes on the extension, keeps his options open, watches how Sheppard and company operate, then decides on his future in the summer of 2020 or 2021.
Beal will secure the bag. That’s a given. Question is when and where? The answer is simple: Option 3. Reject the offer. Have patience and play out the remaining two years, $55.8 million left on his contract. Later on, review the situation and maximize the potential earnings (if he elects to stay in Washington).
Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington detailed the outlook of Beal’s potential earnings.
- If he signs next offseason (2020) - $154M over four years ($34.5M in 2021-22, $37.3M in 2022-23, $40M in 2023-24, $42.8M in 2024-25
- If he makes All-NBA and qualifies for a supermax next offseason (2020) - $254M over five years ($43.8M in 2021-22, $47.3M in 2022-23, $50.8M in 2023-24, $54.3M in 2024-25, $57.8M in 2025-26)
- If he signs with the Wizards the offseason he can hit free agency (2021) - $218M over five years ($37.5M in 2021-22, $40.5M in 2022-23, $43.5M in 2023-24, $46.5M in 2024-25, $49.5M in 2025-26)
Last season, the Wizards entered into basketball purgatory, finishing with a 30-52 record, nine games behind the final spot. John Wall and Dwight Howard’s optimistic pairing never panned out, mostly due to injuries that ended their seasons. Management pulled the plug on its buoyant desire of Otto Porter. Jr.’s ascension into a catastrophic third wheel next to Wall and Beal. Then came Leonsis’ decision to fire former President of Basketball Operations, Ernie Grunfeld.
While Beal strived as Washington’s No. 1 playmaker, posting career-bests: 25.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 5.5 assists, an All-Star worthy campaign, while establishing himself as one of the most productive guards in the league. That same role presents itself this season, with Wall expected to miss the entire year, coupled with another trending downward season. As Beal fights to make an All-NBA team, he needs to keep a third eye on front office transactions.
Beal sounded noncommittal and unsure of his future in Washington, when Fred Katz of The Athletic asked about a contract extension in March.
“I have no idea. … I try not to (think about it),” Beal said. “I’m not gonna be naïve to it. I know about it. But … I haven’t even gotten that far, because I need to figure out what we’re gonna do in this offseason, where we’re going, which direction we’re going.”
Sheppard knows Beal’s uneasy approach towards an extension is warranted. He’s aware the organization has a ways to go, still healing from damages lingering under Grunfeld. When thinking about well-run franchises: the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, Brooklyn Nets, Denver Nuggets, Toronto Raptors, they are well ahead of most organizations in terms of structure and planning. While the Wizards sort in contention for most dysfunctional franchise.
“We need to show him that we are about building this the right way, that we aren’t going to have character-deficient guys around him,” Sheppard told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. “We are going to surround him with guys he wants to play with. He saw that right away in free agency with us bringing back Thomas Bryant.”
Thus far, Sheppard has made decisions based on cap space and team success. Filling the roster with young, cheap and high-upside players. Drafting forwards Admiral Schofield and Rui Hachimura, who was named to the NBA Summer League’s second team. Trading for Davis Bertans, Moe Wagner and Isaac Bonga.
While dumping poisonous contracts and personalities out of town. Sheppard called trading Howard to the Memphis Grizzlies for veteran forward C.J. Miles, a calm personality who will help its three-point shooting need, “the quickest trade of my life.” Not to mention, Sheppard brought in Isaiah Thomas and Ish Smith to fill the void at point guard with Wall’s absence.
Obviously, these signings and trades aren’t splashy enough to boost Beal’s intrigue of staying in Washington, who’s still among the least talented teams in the league, but Sheppard is making moves despite minimal cap space. And the Wizards are showing Beal their seriousness in changing the culture, with action and not just talk.
However, deciding to be patient and let things play out remains Beal’s best option. Sheppard noted that “Washington has no plans of trading Beal,” even if he declines to accept an extension right now, so there’s no need to rush.
Besides, waiting makes him more money. Decline the extension now. Focus on making the All-NBA team. Then make a decision after reviewing the state of the franchise.
The ball is in Beal’s court … he just has to make the smart decision.