The growing buzz around the league is that Bradley Beal is staying put in Washington, at least for a while. Much like with Damian Lillard in Portland — and to the dismay of 76ers GM Daryl Morey — there is a sense Beal is going to give it another real chance in Washington D.C. with this new, deeper roster and is not looking to push his way to another team. He’ll have a decision to make next summer, but he is all-in with the Wizards for now.
That’s not stopping other players from recruiting him, Beal told Kevin O’Conner of The Ringer.
“Almost every game we play, someone says something,” Bradley Beal tells me over the phone, regarding how often players recruit him to leave….
“It brings you back to college. Which school is the right school? Which team is the right team?” Beal says. “You love the fact that people see your game and would love to play with you. But it’s also tough on the back end, because you have no idea what you want to do.”
As the end of that quote hints at, Beal is not sure what his long-term decision will be, other than he’s not likely to sign the extension the Wizards offered him (he can get more money waiting if he wants to stay). The choice in front of Beal will be a five-year, $242 million contract with the Wizards, or to jump to another team (likely via sign-and-trade as there is not a lot of cap space out there next summer).
Beal’s preference would be to stay put, and he’s tried to recruit other stars to the Wizards, but that has proved a tough sell.
Beal says he has shared his vision with other star players around the league about how they could fit in Washington next to him. He raves about the “freshness” of the team, with a new coach, a new system, and plenty of improving young players. Though selling Washington as most stars look to more glamorous markets has its challenges.
“A lot of people seem to think D.C. is a small market, but I try to tell them it’s a big market,” Beal says. “It makes that part of recruiting tougher.”
The DMV has a basketball culture and history — it produced Kevin Durant, among others — but it has never packed arenas and been a Wizards town. To change that, Beal needs another All-Star, not Russell Westbrook (who tried to convince Beal to leave) but a player closer to his prime that excites the fan base. That’s not going to be easy to do, but the Wizards under GM Tommy Sheppard are in a much better position to make that push than they were a few years ago when John Wall‘s contract was an anchor on the franchise.
Beal sounds like a guy who wants to be part of that future but is keeping his options open. At age 28 and finishing second in the league in scoring the past two years, Beal is at his peak, and he knows that will not last forever. The clock is ticking. Whether or not Beal will give the Wizards more time is the big question, and he doesn’t even know the answer to it. Yet.
Which means the recruiting of Beal will not stop.