NBA Rumor: Bradley Beal Free Agency

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For the Wizards and Rockets, there’s hope that the exchange of guards will play a role in convincing the two franchise shooting guards on each team, Washington’s Bradley Beal and Houston’s James Harden, to want to stay long-term with their teams. Harden has privately asked for a trade, and Beal could become a free agent in 2021.

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The Wizards, at this point, have been given no reason to believe he wants to go elsewhere. And they likely won’t trade him unless they are given that indication. The Wizards, at this point, have been given no reason to believe he wants to go elsewhere. And they likely won’t trade him unless they are given that indication. What we know for sure is the Heat loves Beal and hopes to land him either before 2021 free agency or during. We also know that for whatever reason, Jimmy Butler followed Beal recently on social media.

The Wizards went through the first step to retain Bradley Beal this offseason, making him a $14.2 million qualifying offer last night to keep him a restricted free agent so they can have the first right of refusal, league sources confirm to CSNmidatlantic.com. The expectation is that once the roster is retooled using their $30 million in cap room, the Wizards will then sign him to a max deal by exercising Beal’s Bird rights which is an exception that allows the team to exceed the cap to retain its own free agent.

Wizards expected to offer max deal to Bradley Beal

Barring a drastic development, Beal won’t have to shop around. The Wizards are expected to offer Beal a five-year deal for the maximum amount allowed under the salary cap as soon as the free agent negotiating period kicks off on July 1, according to people with knowledge of the situation. Based on the $92 million salary cap projection teams are working with, a max contract would pay Beal $23 million next season because he could earn up to 25 percent of the cap amount as a four-year veteran.

Toronto Raptors center Bismack Biyombo, a backup the entire regular season who is making $2.8 million for 2015-16, will surely opt out of his contract this summer and land a deal worth at least $16 million per year because of his breakout postseason, according to a league source. According to Hoopshype.com, Biyombo, a defensive and rebounding stalwart with a limited offensive skill set, is the 23rd-best potential free agent on the market this summer. Beal is ninth on that list, which includes players with contract options, such as all-stars LeBron James and Andre Drummond, who are not expected to test the market.

Beal’s age also increases his value. He will turn 23 on June 22, and NBA players typically peak between the ages of 26 and 28. He is the youngest player on HoopsHype’s list of the top 50 free agents by nearly a year, younger even than a few players who will be selected in next month’s NBA draft. Virginia point guard Malcolm Brogdon, for example, is more than seven months older than Beal. Furthermore, the free agent pool at shooting isn’t deep beyond Beal, DeMar DeRozan and Dwyane Wade.

The good news for the Wizards is that Beal has significant incentive to wait them out. If he’s to sign a maximum contract with another team, he is only entitled to 4.5 percent raises on a four-year contract, taking the deal to a total of approximately four years, $91.7 million given current estimates (again, dependent on where the salary cap exactly falls, these figures are approximate). However, if he waits for the Wizards, the team can offer him 7.5 percent raises and a five-year contract worth approximately $123.5 million, including $95.6 million over the course of the first four seasons (note: as Beal’s contract will expire in July, he is no longer subject to the designated player rule).

Bradley Beal wants max money

Beal reiterated he wants to stay in Washington in a telephone interview from Tokyo last week, but at the right price. That price is a maximum contract. “I want to be valued the right way. 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]. At the end of the day, that’s where I want to be. I think a deal will probably get done but you just never know,” Beal, 22, said from Japan, where he visited as part of a promotional tour for the NBA and attended a playoff viewing party with fans.

Beal said he’ll begin his offseason workout regimen at the beginning of June and it will include more weight lifting than in previous summers. From there, his future isn’t as clear but he prefers a return to Washington. “I want to be” in Washington,” Beal said. “I do. It just comes down to July 1st. I want to think about it a little bit, but this has been home for me. It’s great to have our core back and a new coach. So things are changing. It’s just up to me and the front office to get it done.”

If Beal does return to the Wizards, he’ll have a new coach in Scott Brooks, who replaced Randy Wittman. Despite Beal’s contract status, the two met for lunch in Los Angeles recently. “It was a good move. In some ways he’s similar to Witt,” said Beal, who was not consulted during the coaching search. “He allows his players a lot of freedom on the offensive end but he’s a defensive-minded coach. I got to pick his mind a bit and he’s great. I got a great feel for him. He’s really a player’s coach. He loves to be hands-on. He loves to develop guys and get his guys better. On top of that, he’s a proven coach. He’s shown that he can win and he’s shown that he can get his players to the finals. That’s exciting. It’s great to be in a situation to have a coach with that experience. He’s been there before. We’ve been in the playoffs, too. So put those two together and hopefully we make something work.”

Washington has around $44.3 million committed to Wall, Gortat, Morris, Porter and Oubre next season, and has to keep just under $22 million available to start a potential max deal next year for Beal, a restricted free agent. (Both sides are hopeful to work out a new deal in July.) That works out to around $90 million for nine players. The salary cap is currently projected at around $92 million.

Amin Elhassan, a former front-office executive for the Phoenix Suns and currently a front-office insider for ESPN, spoke to D.C.’s ESPN 980 AM about Beal on Thursday. He was asked if Beal is/will be a max player when free agency opens July 1: “That question is going to be so irrelevant July 1 because there are 20-plus teams that are going to have max space, 20-plus million dollars. It doesn’t matter if you say, ‘Well, I don’t think so.’ You wait long enough. I was talking to a front office executive from a team about a week ago and I said, ‘Oh I can’t wait for July 16.’ He said, ‘What do you mean July 16?’ I said, ‘We know all the good deals will be done in the first couple weeks but July 16 that’s when the lights come on in the club and you’re looking for anything to go home with. These teams are going to be throwing money at whoever has a pulse. Even if you don’t think Bradley Beal is a max deal player, give it a week. I guarantee you he’ll be a max player somewhere.”

Then there’s that Gainesville connection again. The Wizards will pursue Durant, and though the idea is to sign both Durant and guard Bradley Beal, very little has gone right in Washington this year and that could lead to an utter tear-down. Beal is a restricted free agent and spent a year in Florida, so Washington could match offers to keep him, but his injury history is frightening — perhaps even for the Wizards themselves. Still, his talent could make him worth a gamble for a team like Orlando.

Injured Bradley Beal still expected to attract a max deal

The setback comes six weeks after he and the Wizards agreed to table contract discussions until next summer, when he becomes a restricted free agent. Washington offered Beal a contract extension before the Nov. 3 midnight deadline for first-round picks on the final years of their rookie deals, but Beal sought a maximum contract, which would have paid him a projected $20.9 million over four seasons. The Wizards, however, want as much salary cap space as possible and not signing Beal to the extension gives them nearly $7 million more to sign free agents because his cap hold will be $14 million instead of $20.9 million. As a result, they elected to wait to give Beal max money. Though Beal’s recurring injuries are a concern, he is expected to still attract a max contract given his skill set, age, and influx of television money that will infiltrate the free agent market.

This is part of the reason why the Wizards have hesitated to commit to Beal long-term with a four-year max extension. If it’s fully guaranteed and his injuries get worse, there’d be no out. At the very least, they needed an early-termination clause. Financially speaking, the Wizards were wise to wait because they’d have fewer dollars available under the salary cap in 2016 by signing Beal to an extension last month. Even if they eventually opt to max him, by waiting there would be more money allotted because they could exercise Bird rights to retain their own free agent after filling all of the other holes on the roster that could be as many as seven. Bookkeeping-wise, the Wizards had to wait because it was the smart thing to do regardless of Saturday’s news.

“That’s the goal. Obviously, that’s the goal,” Beal told Yahoo. “I trust what they’re doing. I understand what they’re doing. I have no [anger] toward [team president] Ernie [Grunfeld] or anyone else in the organization. I know at the end of the day, this is where I’m going to be and hopefully that I continue to be here. I don’t even worry about it. I’m worried about this season and controlling what I can control. I’m not in there arguing back and forth with Ernie like, ‘I need this!’ I’m just out here playing and doing what I do and letting my game speak for itself.”
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January 23, 2021 | 7:04 pm EST Update