Barring a drastic development, the Wizards are expected to offer shooting guard Bradley Beal a five-year, maximum-salary extension when the new league year opens in July, people with knowledge of the situation tell Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post. The cap for next season will have to be set before the exact value of such an offer will be known, but it would likely start in the neighborhood of $22MM.
Last week, Beal told Castillo in a phone interview that he believes he’s a maximum-salary player, and that he’ll shop around for an offer sheet from a team willing to pay that price if the Wizards don’t put a max offer on the table: “I feel like I’m a max player and that’s what I’m looking for. If Washington can’t meet that requirement then I may be thinking elsewhere. I’m pretty sure that they probably won’t [let me go].”
As Beal suggested, the Wizards do seem unwilling to let him go. Castillo’s latest report comes on the heels of a story from J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic.com, who was told that Washington remains “determined” to keep its core group of players intact. Keeping that core together will require making a significant offer this summer to a player who has been plagued by injuries in recent years.
Beal, who turns 23 next month, is a talented scorer when healthy, averaging a career-high 17.4 points per game on 44.9% shooting in 2015/16. However, he also established a new career low in games played this past season, appearing in just 55 contests. The former third overall pick has never played more than 73 games in a season, due to injuries.
Still, as Castillo points out, Beal will be one of the more appealing free agents on the market this year, and with so many teams armed with cap space, a max deal will almost certainly be necessary to keep him in D.C. According to Castillo, the plan for Washington is to reach an agreement with Beal immediately, but to wait to formally sign him to that new deal — because Beal’s cap hold is smaller than his starting salary would be on a new contract, keeping that cap hold on the books for as long as possible would allow the Wizards to maximize their cap space, perhaps even adding another max player to their roster.
With several weeks still to go before free agency begins, it’s possible things could change before then, and a sign-and-trade deal involving Beal is conceivable, Castillo writes. However, a source tells the Post scribe that the Wizards aren’t entertaining that option. The team thinks highly of the young guard’s character, and believes he’s on the brink of breaking out.