Bradley Beal and the Wizards are reportedly at an impasse in contract-extension negotiations.
This explains why.
Bradley Beal has made it clear. He thinks he’s a max player, and that’s what he wants. I’ve talked to people on both sides all offseason about this. It seems to be Bradley Beal’s decision. The Wizards are willing to make him an offer an extension. But they’re not going to offer him the maximum extension right now simply because they don’t have to.
The Wizards are taking the right approach.
Beal might be worth a max contract next summer. More likely, he’ll probably command one from someone. So many teams will have max cap space.
But wait until then.
If Beal earns the max, I bet the Wizards will happily give him one. He’s an excellent shooter with the athleticism to do more, and he has excelled in the playoffs. Best of all, he’s just 22.
There’s a risk he’ll stumble this year, though. He hasn’t yet had a fully healthy season, and that’s the biggest reason for concern. He also takes too many long 2s and doesn’t get to the line enough. If you don’t have to pay him the max now, why do it?
Beal will be a restricted free agent next summer, so he’s not leaving Washington until 2017 at the earliest unless the Wizards allow it. There’s a chance he takes the qualifying offer, but the odds are very low. He could also seek a shorter offer sheet in free agency that will allow him to bolt in 2018 or 2019, but again, the odds are low (though substantially higher than him taking the qualifying offer). The risk of either is not high enough to offer a max extension now.
Plus, delaying will give the Wizards extra cap room next summer. Beal’s cap hold would be $14,236,685. A max contract projects to start at $20,947,250. If Washington waits, it can use that extra $6.7 million in cap space and then exceed the cap to re-sign Beal. That extra money could be handy for luring Kevin Durant or, if Durant goes home, a supporting player who wants to follow the superstar to D.C.
It wouldn’t be imprudent for the Wizards to offer Beal more than his cap hold now, but they need to get some savings in return. There should be no rush to give Beal the max. Washington should use the final season of his contract to evaluate him and his health further. The Wizards can always offer the max next summer – and it’d be shocking if Beal rejected it then just because he didn’t get it now.
Force Beal to take less now in exchange for the security of a deal. Jonas Valanciunas and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist seemingly took that safe route.
And if Beal wants to bet on himself and play out the season without an extension, that’s fine too. Good thing, because it seems that’s the direction we’re headed.
Of course, Beal could always blink before the Nov. 2 extension deadline. If he’s willing to take less than the max, he shouldn’t tell the Wizards until he gets the best offer possible from them.
Washington, on the other hand, should hold firm with less-than-max offers.