In a commitment carrying league-wide ramifications, Washington Wizards All-Star guard Bradley Beal has agreed to extend his deal for two years on a $72 million maximum contract, agent Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports told ESPN on Thursday morning.
Beal’s extension, which begins with the 2021-22 season, includes a player option for 2022-23 that keeps him out of free agency for three more seasons — and guarantees him nearly $130 million over four years.
Assuming that Beal, 26, declines his player option upon reaching 10 years of service in 2022 to re-sign with Washington, he would be eligible to sign the largest contract in NBA history: five years for $266 million.
To leave Washington in three years, Beal could sign a four-year, $198 million deal with a new team.
For the scores of NBA teams who’d been intrigued by the idea of trading for Beal in his prime this year, the extension reshapes the landscape. Rival executives believed Beal could be the trade market’s biggest difference-maker over the next year. Nevertheless, Beal’s commitment to Washington dramatically dilutes the star-power that teams hoped could become available in the league’s championship arms race.
For Washington owner Ted Leonsis and new general manager Tommy Sheppard, Beal’s decision represents a spectacular victory in the organization’s months-long campaign to recruit Beal into a belief that the organization has a viable plan to rapidly redirect a course toward contention.
And for Beal, he has cemented himself as something of a modern NBA outlier. In an era marked with superstar movement and player empowerment, Beal — in his prime — is determined to steer the Wizards through an organizational and roster reboot that could leave Washington as one of the league’s worst teams this season.
Since the summer, Leonsis and Sheppard have been meeting regularly with Beal and Bartelstein discussing the franchise’s future. Once Sheppard was promoted to interim GM in March — and eventually to the permanent role in July — his promise to Beal has been to surround him with talent and character, and never again allow Beal to feel swallowed up by past organizational dysfunction.
“This was a long process that really covered the entire summer and fall, including numerous conversations and meetings among Ted, Tommy, myself and Brad,” Bartelstein told ESPN. “This was probably going to be the most important decision that Brad was going to make in his career and we wanted to give Ted and Tommy every opportunity to present their vision for the franchise. And they’ve genuinely done a wonderful job of getting Brad excited about the future and how they plan to build the Wizards team around him.
“Brad has always made it clear to me, that in a perfect world, he would never leave Washington. He has felt an obligation to be the focal point in turning the Wizards into an elite team. He’s thrilled about all the resources that Ted is pouring into the franchise and thrilled how committed (Leonsis) and Tommy are to building something special.”
Beal’s deal includes a 15 percent trade bonus on the extension years, and 50 percent advance payment of the $34.5 million and $37.3 million (if he opts into the 2022-23 years) annual salaries.
The Wizards are awaiting the return of All-Star guard John Wall, who’s expected to miss the entire season recovering from a ruptured Achilles. Wall has four years and $171 million left on his contract, a hurdle to the rebuild. Nevertheless, the Wizards and Beal have been excited over the development of young center Thomas Bryant and rookie forward Rui Hachimura.
Beal had his best statistical season for Washington, averaging career-highs with 25.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.5 steals last season. The Wizards drafted Beal with the third overall pick out of Florida in 2012. He has been part of four playoff teams in Washington and has made two consecutive All-Star appearances.
ESPN Front Office Insider Bobby Marks contributed to this report.
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