The maximum-salary contract extension the Wizards offered to Bradley Beal in October remains on the table and will stay there all season long, general manager Tommy Sheppard told Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Beal may end up opting for free agency – where he could earn a longer, more lucrative deal with Washington or explore other destinations – but Sheppard wants to make sure the All-Star guard knows the extension is still an option.
“There’s no reason to take it off. It stands all year. He can sign it all season,” Sheppard said. “I’ve never been anything but transparent. We delivered it the first day that it was available. That’s out of respect to him. He’s an All-NBA player, and we expect him to be an All-Star again this year, and I think he’ll be there at the end for All-NBA. That’s a matter of respect. I think for him he’s going to do what’s very best in his interest. And for the franchise, it’s the same.”
With no guarantee that Beal will eventually sign a new contract, Robbins wondered if the Wizards might have to at least consider the possibility of trading him by the February 10 deadline rather than risk losing him for nothing. However, that doesn’t appear to be a path Sheppard is exploring. The general manager told Robbins that the club remains focused on keeping and building around Beal and believes the 28-year-old remains committed to that plan too.
“I understand the question,” Sheppard said. “I can only keep coming back to the same things I say over and over again: We have constant dialogue. And I’ve been very transparent. He’s been very transparent. We want the same things. We want this to work, and I see every reason to believe we’ll keep moving forward.”
Here are a few more highlights from Sheppard’s conversation with Robbins:
- Sheppard isn’t concerned about the fact that the Wizards have been outscored by 5.5 points per 100 possessions when Beal and Spencer Dinwiddie share the court. He preached patience and still believes the two guards complement each other well. “Last I checked, Spencer’s got a three-year deal, not a 40-game deal,” Sheppard said. “It takes time for things to kind of come together. They’ve still got to figure out each other. … Forty games isn’t enough to say this is working or not working. We’ve seen it when it can really work. We’ve seen that they can play well.”
- Asked about Washington’s up-and-down performance so far this season, Sheppard pointed out that injuries and the COVID-19 protocols have created an “incomplete picture” of the team’s potential. The Wizards’ GM referred to Rui Hachimura and Thomas Bryant as two of “our probably top six guys or seven guys” and said he’s looking forward to seeing what they bring to the current group.
- Sheppard, who has spoken in the past about the Wizards making steady improvements as they build around Beal, believes they’re still headed in the right direction. “I think that our roster has some balance,” Sheppard said, referring to the club’s mix of youngsters and veterans. “I think our contracts are balanced-out now. I think that gives you an opportunity, especially around the deadline, to look and see if there’s a way to improve your team. Certainly in the offseason, it gives us opportunities to do things. So I’m really excited with where we’re at.”