Bradley Beal is one of the most coveted scorers in the NBA right now. The former scoring champion has been a magnetic offensive force in Washington for years now, but the team just hasn't been able to construct a winning situation around Beal since John Wall's injury in the 2018-19 season.
Washington has seen the Playoffs once since Wall's injury, with that sole appearance coming last season with Russell Westbrook putting up monster statistics in the second half of the season. The Wizards know that they are at risk of losing Beal to a contending team considering the interest in him will always be high.
Beal has openly told the world that he will be testing the waters of free agency in June 2023 after he finishes out the final year of his contract with the Wizards. While he hasn't ruled out returning to the Wizards, he spoke at length with Taylor Rooks about wanting to make an informed decision that will be the best for his family and him.
Obviously, I consider my family. What do they wanna do? Where do they wanna live? What are they comfortable with? And obviously, the team. So it is surreal in a lot of ways to be in the position I am in. It is crazy numbers. It is what it is. It’s uncontrollable. It’s out of my control. But I’m blessed to be here. Again, I don’t shy away from that. I take it on with a full front and I have to do what’s best for me. There is a little anxiety because I have to make the decision and time is counting down, we’re in June now. But it’s fun to be in this position.”
It would be a no-brainer for Beal to wait until the end of next season before signing a new contract. He will be up for a massive 4-year $242 million extension in the summer of 2023, as compared to the smaller 4-year $181 million extension that the Wizards have offered to him previously. If he leaves the Wizards in free agency, he stands to make $179 million over four years by signing a contract with a new team.
Beal has made his extension to not sign up until the end of next season clear, so that will put a lot of pressure on the Wizards to compete right now. Beal has made it clear that there is only one thing he is looking at with regards to the team he goes to next. They need to be a winning team, something the Wizards haven't been consistently for years.
I know what my decision will be based off of, and that’s gonna be where I feel like I can win. That’s going to be my decision,” Beal said. “If I feel like I can win in D.C., that’s what I’m gonna do, and I want people to respect that. You may or you may not, but I’m gonna work my ass off and I’m gonna compete and I wanna make this team better. If it’s elsewhere, it’s going to be the exact same commitment… For the most part, I’m gonna do what’s best for me and I can’t concern myself with what other people are saying, even though it may look as ‘simplified’ as people may project it to be.”
The Wizards have made moves to give Beal a better supporting cast around him. After taking on the Russell Westbrook contract and losing a pick to move John Wall, the Wizards flipped that into a solid core of championship-winning players like Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. They reversed poor free agency decisions of signing Davis Bertans and Spencer Dinwiddie to overpriced contracts by moving them to Dallas for Kristaps Porzingis.
Washington also has an impressive stash of young talents they have developed like Thomas Bryant, Rui Hachimura, and Deni Avdija. If the young players can take a leap, the Wizards can have a very deep and capable roster. The question around Beal's health and availability crops up in that case and whether the Wizards would even want to commit nearly $50 million a year to him.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but the Wizards will be a betting a lot on being competitive next season to ensure they still have a chance at winning something with Beal as their leader.