Unfortunately, Washington – which has gone 1-3, including getting routed thrice, with Beal sidelined by a wrist injury – will get more exposure to life without its star guard.
Wizards guard Bradley Beal will undergo surgery to repair a torn scapholunate ligament of his left wrist and will miss the remainder of the regular season.
The decision to proceed with the surgery was mutually agreed upon by the team, Beal and his representation after a re-evaluation today by Hand Specialist Dr. Michele Carlson of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York and the Wizards medical team.
“Despite the last 10 days of getting intensive treatment and rehab on my wrist, it became clear that I would not be able to compete to my standards or to the level that our team and our fans deserve,” said Beal. “I’m disappointed to have my season end this way, but we all agreed that this was the best decision. I look forward to coming back at 100% and continuing to lead this team as we work together to build toward the future.”
This doesn’t preclude Washington trading Beal before Thursday’s deadline. So much of the other evidence does, though. If a trade weren’t already unlikely, teams that wanted Beal for the 2022 stretch run have even less reason to deal for him now.
Still, the Wizards ought to fear keeping Beal into unrestricted free agency this summer.
Maybe he’ll re-sign. They probably have good insight into his thinking. Communication between both sides has been strong. Beal has frequently touted his loyalty to Washington.
But so much can change by June 30, and Beal has talked about being selfish for the first time in his career. He could leave the Wizards high and dry. Trading even an injured Beal could yield significant return if he pledges to re-sign with his new team, especially if that new team lacks the cap room to sign him outright this summer.
Beal reportedly planned not to sign a $181,301,299 max contract extension. Perhaps, this injury pushes him to reconsider and place more value on financial security. Beal could sign the extension anytime by June 30 (assuming Washington is still offering it).
If not signing the extension, Beal has a $36,422,136 player option next season as a fallback. However, his max starting salary as a free agent projects to be about $42 million.
So, the long-term situation probably continues down the same path it was seemingly heading previously – Beal finishing the season on the Wizards roster then becoming an unrestricted free agent.
His max on a new contract with Washington projects to be $246 million over five years (about $8 million more over the first four years than an extension would pay plus a fifth season worth about $56 million). After all their prior commitment to him, the Wizards probably wouldn’t blanch at offering the max just because the 28-year-old hurt his wrist.
For now, Washington seems more likely to sell ahead of the trade deadline. On a skid that started even before Beal got hurt, the Wizards (24-29) have fallen to 11th in the Eastern Conference and are closer to the 12th-place Knicks than play-in position. Washington has reportedly made everyone but Beal available.