The Wizards have made it clear that they’re committed to paying Bradley Beal the maximum salary, as Ken Berger of CBSSports.com writes amid his Playoff Buzz column. Berger raises the question of whether it’ll come in the form of an extension this offseason or a new contract in the summer of 2016, though J. Michael of CSNWashington.com reported in October that the club was planning an extension for the promising shooting guard. Coach Randy Wittman signaled earlier this week that the Wizards intend to keep Beal, whose rookie scale contract expires after next season, for the long term.
Giving Beal the max, regardless of whether it comes in the form of an extension or a new contract, would be a bold investment from Washington, since the deal would kick in just as the salary cap jumps to a projected $89MM for 2015/16. League execs nonetheless told Shams Charania of RealGM that they were confident that Beal would be able to command the max this summer, as Charania reported in November. Max salaries rise right along with the cap, and Beal would garner an estimated starting salary of around $21MM, about $4MM more than the team is set to pay John Wall that season.
Wall just finished the first season of a five-year max extension he signed in 2013, which made him the team’s Designated Player. That means the Wizards can’t give Beal an extension that covers more than four seasons, though they can ink him to a new five-year contract if they allow him to hit restricted free agency in 2016.
Washington also stands to benefit from a new contract instead of an extension because that would allow the team to keep Beal’s 2015/16 cap hold of about $11.389MM on the books into the summer of 2016, as Berger points out. D.C. native Kevin Durant is poised to headline the 2016 free agent class and it’s no secret that the Wizards would like to talk him into a homecoming. Passing on an extension with Beal and signing him in restricted free agency could afford the team an extra $10MM or so in flexibility to chase Durant or other targets in 2016. The Wizards could wait to officially sign Beal while chasing other free agents, though there’s always the risk that Beal would find an offer sheet with terms more to his liking from another team, forcing Washington to decide whether to match. Making it clear that they intend to give him the max would dissipate that threat, however.