Bradley Beal joined Gilbert Arenas on the No Chill podcast for what was essentially a victory lap for Beal about how underappreciated he is. Early in the episode, Beal was asked about his decision to re-sign in Washington.
Beal essentially explained that there really wasn't much of a decision to make. Not out of some undying love for the city or the fans. But because he didn't have any better options.
"On the business side of it, there were no teams in the market. Just free agency-wise. I'm just being frank. There was nowhere else for me to go. Where I can go win. There were teams that strategically wasn't what I wanted. Realistically, I won't say my hand was forced but this was the best option that was on the table."
There it is. Beal didn't have any other viable options and was always going to take the money and re-sign in Washington. I knew it. You knew it. Presumably, Tommy and Ted knew it, which is what made all of the extra stipulations in his contract so confounding.
It was always about the money. And that's fine, get your bag, and secure generational wealth. But do you really need to say returning to the Wizards was due to a lack of better options? It just feels so tone-deaf coming from a player that a large percentage of the fanbase didn't want back. A player that many want to see traded. Troy Haliburton and I discussed all of this on the latest Bleav in Wizards podcast.
Arenas joked that he talked to Tommy Sheppard and Sheppard said Beal isn't going anywhere. "I talked to Tommy and was like how you feel about Beal? 'He ain't going nowhere. He want the building? He want the team? He ain't going nowhere. We're not losing Beal.'"
I get that a general manager has to say that about his "franchise" player. But why negotiate like that's the case? Beal admits in this interview he had no realistic options. So why would management act as if that wasn't the case? They were literally bidding against themselves for a player who hasn't proven he can move the needle yet in terms of meaningful postseason success.
Beal was also asked how he felt seeing himself photoshopped into other teams’ jerseys during trade speculation. He said he liked it because it makes him feel "loved and appreciated for what you do."
I would think it would be a red flag to a player who just re-signed in a city where his home fans don't feel that way about him. Maybe saying things like you only re-signed because you didn't have better options isn't particularly endearing.
To be fair to Beal, he did offer the expected lip service about liking this roster and thinking he could make the playoffs with this group. He went so far as to say this group compared to the 2017 team in terms of talent.
But the whole thing is just frustrating to hear as a fan. I can't totally fault a guy for being honest and admitting that loyalty didn't factor into the decision-making process. If most of my local fanbase seemingly disliked me, I wouldn't feel particularly linked to them either.
I would wonder "why" though. Why don't they like me? I'm great in the community so what else am I doing that has alienated a portion of fans? And if he doesn't care about that, maybe ownership should.
As an organization, do we really want to tie ourselves to this player that many of our fans don't seem noticeably excited to keep? Not expecting them to be loyal to fans either but that does seem like a question a business interested in maximizing revenue should ask itself.
Again, none of this was particularly surprising. Maybe it's better now that it's finally been said out loud. From the moment the extension happened, I've consistently said I expected Beal to ask out as soon as things go south. Miss the playoffs? Trade request time.
The only difference is the Wizards have unnecessarily tied their own hands and guaranteed diminished returns because Beal can pick his next destination. One that will likely hold more outright appeal for them than returning to Washington apparently did.
Maybe I’m just a pessimistic person but when someone enters into a business relationship because they can’t find any better options it seems like a bad omen. Whenever this ends, and it will end, I can’t see it ending well for the Wizards, and by association, Wizards’ fans.