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Report: Wizards quickly nearing max five-year, $128 million deal with Bradley Beal

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The Wizards had to do this. If they didn’t max out Bradley Beal, another team would have — injury history or no. Then the Wizards would have had to match, but bad blood could have formed. He has just too much promise as a shooter in a league where 29 other teams could use more shooting.

Within an hour after free agency started, the Wizards and Beal were closing in on a five-year, $128 million contract extension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Restricted free-agent guard Bradley Beal is nearing agreement on a five-year, $128 million maximum contract to stay with the Washington Wizards, his agent, Mark Bartelstein, told The Vertical. The framework of the contract will be a straight five-year deal with no options, Bartelstein said.

The sides are expected to come to a complete agreement later Friday morning.

Friday morning does not mean in the hours right after midnight, but rather once everyone comes in and has had a cup of coffee Friday morning.

The question with Beal isn’t “can he play the game?” He averaged 17.4 points per game last season and is a career 39.7 percent shooter from three. Rather, the issue is his health, where a stress fracture in his right leg has kept him out of 46 games the past two seasons and is a lingering problem. He’s going to be on a minutes restriction the rest of his career to deal with that stress issue.

Beal and Wizards point guard John Wall need to learn to thrive together (they were just pedestrian last season, when the two were on the court together they played opponents basically even, less than +1 per 100 possessions). Maybe new coach Scott Brooks scan help. But the Wizards need those two to be a lot more like what Toronto gets out of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. They have to be more than scorers; they need to be catalysts.

The Wizards will be paying Beal handsomely to be just that next season.

Report: Hassan Whiteside leaning toward Dallas over Miami

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It’s amazing how all this has happened before everybody gets to officially sit down in a room and talk.

Free agency opens at midnight Thursday (into Friday), and Hassan Whiteside is one of the most sought after bigs on the market — an athletic rim-protecting big who fits the modern NBA style of play. Already he has ruled out even meetings with the Lakers, Knicks, and others and is only going to sit down with Miami, Dallas, and Portland.

And maybe not all of them have an equal chance, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports:

Now, if I were the cynical type, I might say this: Miami has been reluctant to max out Whiteside at $22 million a season for four years, while Dallas is going all in (and we have to assume Portland would offer the max also). If I were Whiteside’s agent and wanted to up the pressure on Miami to come in with a max offer, this might be exactly what I’d want to leak before I met with them.

Or, maybe Whiteside likes the potential with himself at the five and Dirk Nowitzki at the four in Dallas (especially if they can convince Mike Conley to leave Memphis, as they are trying to do). Maybe a lot of things.

Just know that once free agency starts at midnight — and once Pat Riley gets in the room with Whiteside — everything can change. Free agency is a fluid situation and what we think going in can change on a dime.

PBT Extra Free Agency Preview: Plenty of potential, plenty of risk in class of centers

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One could argue that the center position is the deepest (or, at least second deepest) position in the 2016 free agent class.

But these are not lock guys that are available; there is a lot of risk and reward here. Not with Andre Drummond at center, but he’s not leaving Detroit.

But there is with Hassan Whiteside, a guy who has never earned $1 million a season and is about to make $22 million a year. There’s always a risk when a guy who scrapped to get paid finally gets the big check. With Pau Gasol there is the risk of age, with Joakim Noahwho is destined for the Knicks — it is age and health.

But the biggest gamble of all may be Dwight Howard.

I break it all down in this latest PBT Extra, including a suggestion for Howard.

PBT Extra Free Agency Preview: After Al Horford, power forward class drops off

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Al Horford is the second best free agent available on the market this summer, behind some guy named Durant.

But after the versatile forward from Atlanta — who may be on the move if the Hawks balk at offering him a five-year max deal — the quality drops off quickly. Well, Dirk Nowitzki is quality, but he’s not leaving Dallas.

Ryan Anderson has health questions, and his skills are in decline. Then you get into nice rotation players off the bench such as the Jareds — Sullinger and Dudley.

I break it all down in this latest PBT Extra.

NBA says it does not endorse proposed changes to North Carolina “bathroom bill,” All-Star Game still up in air

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Before the NBA Finals tipped off, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said that he hoped that modifications to North Carolina’s HB2 — the “bathroom bill” — would come from the state legislature and not force him and the league to make a decision about moving the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte because of it.

He then said there was a point this summer when the league would have to make a decision about the future of that game.

There are proposed changes to the bill being floated, but the league said they did not go far enough.

“We have been engaged in dialogue with numerous groups at the city and state levels, but we do not endorse the version of the bill that we understand is currently before the legislature,” the NBA and Charlotte Hornets said in a combined statement. “We remain committed to our guiding principles of inclusion, mutual respect and equal protections for all. We continue to believe that constructive engagement with all sides is the right path forward. There has been no new decision made regarding the 2017 NBA All-Star Game.”

Earlier this year North Carolina’s legislature approved HB2, which restricts transgender bathroom use (you have to use the bathroom for the gender with which you were born) and preempted anti-discrimination ordinances put in by Charlotte and other North Carolina cities that tried to block discrimination against gays and lesbians. The bill was a political ploy in an election year. The law led to a business backlash — PayPal, Deutsche Bank, and others have pulled plans for expansion in the state off the table — as well as a social one, including things such as Bruce Springsteen canceling a concert in the state. The NBA was part of that.

The changes being floated among Republican lawmakers would create a new official document that would officially recognize someone’s gender reassignment, serving as an alternative birth certificate for people coming from a state that does not allow changes to birth certificates. That has been roundly rejected by members of the LBGT community.

It was always unlikely there would be meaningful changes to the bill in an election year.

The buzz All-Star weekend was that the NBA had just a couple of options if it wanted to move the 2017 game. One of those is rumored to be Orlando, where a mass shooting of 49 people at a gay nightclub horrified the nation, plus brought attention to and galvanized the LBGT community in that state (and beyond). If the NBA were to make a statement on inclusively and support, that could be the destination.