Today marks the three-year anniversary of Bradley Beal signing his current five-year deal with the Wizards, which means it’s also the day he becomes eligible to sign a contract extension with the team.
New permanent general manager Tommy Sheppard vowed earlier in the week that the Wizards would offer Beal the maximum possible extension – nearly $112MM over three years – as soon as possible. According to David Aldridge of The Athletic (Twitter link), the team did just that today. However, Aldridge says that Beal isn’t signing that offer immediately — if at all.
As Aldridge details (via Twitter), Beal is grateful for the offer and remains committed to the franchise. But he also still has questions about the Wizards’ short- and long-term plans during the prime of his career, and has a better chance to maximize his earnings if he waits to sign a new contract. According to Aldridge (Twitter link), the two sides will continue to have “amiable” discussions about their future.
While it’s impossible for us to know at this point whether or not Beal will ultimately decide that he’s comfortable with the Wizards’ long-term vision and wants to remain in D.C. for the foreseeable future, we can at least crunch the numbers and break down why it makes more sense financially for the All-Star guard to hold off on an extension.
Cap guru Albert Nahmad has a more detailed round-up of all the scenarios on the table for Beal, but here’s a quick look at the maximum-salary extension available to him now as opposed to the ones that could be available next summer:
||July 2020 (All-NBA)|
That third column is an important one. Based on the NBA’s $125MM cap projection for 2021/22, that’s the super-max contract Beal would be eligible for if he earns All-NBA honors in 2019/20.
On a Wizards squad that projects to finish in the bottom five of the Eastern Conference, Beal will face an uphill battle when it comes to making an All-NBA team. Still, John Wall is expected to miss most or all of the season, and Beal put up his best numbers after Wall went down in 2018/19, averaging 27.2 PPG, 6.0 APG, and 5.1 RPG in 47 games the rest of the way.
Even if Beal isn’t named to an All-NBA team in 2019/20, he’d still have one year left on his current contract and would have an opportunity to become super-max eligible again during the 2020/21 season.
If Beal plays out the remaining two years on his current contract and reaches the open market in July of 2021, here are the maximum-salary options that would be available to him based on the league’s latest cap projections:
||Joining new team|
As this chart shows, Beal could, in theory, nearly double the total value of his next contract with the Wizards if he waits until free agency to re-sign with Washington rather than signing an extension right now. If he earns an All-NBA spot in either of the next two seasons, the value of his next deal could go even higher.
The salary figures here for joining a new team are also worth noting. Signing an extension with the Wizards today would lock in a $34.5MM salary for Beal in 2021/22. Unless the NBA’s cap projections for that season change significantly over the next two years, he’d be assured of a much larger starting salary by waiting until free agency, even if he signs with a new team at that point.
If Beal believes there might be a chance that his value as a player won’t be as high in a year or two as it is now, he may be more motivated to sign an extension right now and gain some long-term security. He’s still just 26 years old though, so there’s no reason to believe he won’t maintain his current value for at least the next two seasons, barring a significant injury.
With Beal unlikely to accept an extension offer from the Wizards anytime soon, we can probably expect to hear increasing trade speculation surrounding the star guard in the coming weeks and months. However, Sheppard has said the team doesn’t plan to go down that road, and the numbers detailed above show why it makes sense for Beal to wait on a new deal even if he wants to remain in Washington.
As long as Beal doesn’t express a desire to be sent elsewhere, I wouldn’t expect the Wizards to start seriously entertaining a trade anytime soon, with or without an extension in place.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.