The Wizards fully intend to sign Bradley Beal to a maximum-salary contract, but they prefer to do so next summer instead of before Monday’s deadline for an extension, a source told Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. The team reportedly offered an extension worth less than the max, and earlier it appeared Washington wanted some non-guaranteed salary involved in any max deal. Beal recently expressed confidence that the sides would work something out before the extension deadline but said he would be fine with either outcome.
The latest news makes sense, given the financial motivation the Wizards have to hold off. Beal’s cap hold for next summer is $14.2MM, and that number sticks on the books until the sides agree to terms. Beal’s projected maximum salary is $20.4MM, and signing him to that figure for next season would give the team almost no flexibility to sufficiently build a roster around Beal, John Wall and a maximum salary free agent addition such as Kevin Durant, as I explained. Keeping Beal unsigned would allow the Wizards to sign other free agents first before circling back to Beal and signing him for the max using Bird rights. It’s a strategy the Spurs used with Kawhi Leonard that freed them to sign LaMarcus Aldridge and others this summer, and the Pistons are going the same route with Andre Drummond for next year.
Beal and agent Mark Bartelstein don’t have to play along, but while they could pursue an offer sheet that would take Beal to unrestricted free agency as soon as 2018, Washington would almost certainly match. He could unilaterally reach unrestricted free agency in 2017 if he signs his qualifying offer, but the qualifying offer is worth only about $7.471MM.
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported in May that the Wizards were ready to do a max deal with the former No. 3 overall pick, and that, coupled with a report from J. Michael of CSNWashington.com last year that the Wizards were already planning to do an extension with Beal, seemed to signal that he’d sign this summer. It appears Washington’s plan has changed since then, as Michael noted in August.
Do you think Beal is worth the max? Leave a comment to let us know.