Wizards Eye Cap Space, Offer Beal Less Than Max?

MONDAY, 4:47pm: Beal indicated that negotiations remain open and cordial, and that the lack of an extension by the deadline doesn’t mean the sides won’t strike up talks again next summer, when Beal would be a restricted free agent, writes J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic.

“I’m confident [something will be worked out before October ends],” Beal said, according to Michael. “It’s just a matter of them doing it. If they do or don’t it’s fine either way. I still have to play the season. That’s the only thing I’m concerned about.” 

MONDAY, 12:30pm: Beal denies that the Wizards made him an offer, Castillo tweets.

FRIDAY, 3:27pm: The Wizards have offered an extension to Bradley Beal, but it’s worth less than the maximum salary he’s seeking because the team wants to preserve cap flexibility for next summer, a source tells Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post. That makes it unlikely the Mark Bartelstein client signs an extension, Castillo writes, though the sides have until the end of November 2nd to negotiate. An earlier report indicated that the Wizards wanted non-guaranteed salary involved in any max deal, though Castillo’s dispatch makes it seem as though the total value of Washington’s offer, and not just the guaranteed portion, is less than the max.

Washington would likely have room to bring in D.C. native Kevin Durant or another free agent on a max deal next summer even if the team signs Beal to a max extension, but that would leave almost no flexibility for the team to carry credible bench players, as I explained when I looked at the possibility of Beal’s extension. Keeping Beal unsigned would allow the team to carry his cap hold of about $14.2MM into next summer instead of a max salary figure, which would be a projected $20.4MM. The Wizards would have the right to match competing bids for Beal in restricted free agency if they pass on an extension, so they could let him sit unsigned while they use the July Moratorium period to chase Durant and others.

The plan could backfire if Beal signs an offer sheet with another team that contains terms the Wizards find undesirable. However, Spurs employed a similar strategy with Kawhi Leonard to great success this past year, declining to sign him to an extension and using the extra cap flexibility to sign LaMarcus Aldridge and others before circling back to tie up Leonard on a five-year max deal.

Leonard’s deal includes a player option on the final season, and Beal reportedly wants that in any deal for less than the max. The Wizards can’t sign him to a five-year deal unless he hits free agency, since they already made John Wall their Designated Player, so an extension that includes a player option would allow Beal to leave as soon as 2018.

The Wizards and Beal’s camp have maintained talks but achieved little progress, as Castillo reported earlier this month. It represents a shift from last year, when the Wizards were reportedly already planning to do an extension with Beal when he became eligible this summer. As recently as this spring, Washington was apparently committed to reaching a max deal with the shooting guard, though that may simply have to wait until next July.

What do you think the Wizards should do with Beal? Leave a comment to let us know.

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