Wednesday 24th July 2024,
The Hoop Doctors

Wizards ‘Committed’ to Signing Beal to Max Contract


Bradley Beal is going to get paaaaaaaiiiiiid.

Just not right now.

After finishing up his third NBA season, the high-scoring shooting guard is eligible for an extension this summer. And though the Washington Wizards likely won’t offer one, they still intend to sign him to a max extension in 2016—you know, when they’re not-so-secret pursuit of Kevin Durant reaches its conclusion.

From CBS Sports’ Ken Berger:

One of the underrated summer storylines is that involving the Washington Wizards and Bradley Beal, who is eligible for an extension of his rookie contract this summer. It’s the same situation Kawhi Leonard was in with the Spurs last summer, when San Antonio and Leonard’s agent, Brian Elfus, agreed to hold off for a year to preserve cap room for the team.

That kind of cooperation works in San Antonio, but how will it play in Washington with Beal? The Wizards have made it clear they are committed to signing Beal to the max, but the timing is everything from the standpoint of preserving cap room to chase free agents such as Kevin Durant in 2016.

If the Wizards don’t do the extension this summer, Beal would have two options: Become a restricted free agent next summer (assuming the Wizards extend a qualifying offer, which of course they will), or sign his $7.5 million qualifying offer and become unrestricted in 2017. Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld and Beal’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, have yet to initiate extension talks, but they will soon.

For the Wizards, this is all about pinpoint bookkeeping. John Wall and Marcin Gortat have the only guaranteed contracts beyond next season. If we’re to assume they pick up their option on Otto Porter (inevitable), they’ll have $34.9 million committed to three players. Kris Humphries and Martell Webster have non-guaranteed contracts for 2016-17, so the Wizards can send them packing by paying them part of their expected salaries. Those “see ya” fees, plus the salaries for their 2015 and 2016 first-round draft picks, will leave their bill at or around $45 million, before factoring in the necessary minimum cap holds.

And Beal.

He’s owed a $7.5 million qualifying to become a restricted free agent. His cap hit will be higher than that until he signs a new contract, but it’ll be lower than what it would be if they signed him to a max deal now that pays him a crap ton of money for $2016-17. By waiting, the Wizards gain extra wiggle room—money they can use to bolster their pursuit of Durant, who will command max money. If you’re looking to bet on sports, you may not want to bet on Durant ending up in a Wizards uniform though.

Now, we don’t know if Beal is up for waiting. The max extension he can ink this summer kicks in for the 2016-17 season, so it would be signed under the projected salary guidelines. He would be taking a risk by delaying that payday. If he’s injured between now and July 2016, it could cost him tens of millions of dollars.

But it’s ultimately up to the Wizards. They don’t have to offer him a new contract. They can inform him of their intent to do so next summer, but they’re under no obligation now.

Playing this game makes the Wizards vulnerable if Beal elects to sign his qualifying offer next summer and become e a free agent in 2017, at which point he’ll have control over his own fate just as the cap creeps over $100 million. But if they’re still hell-bent on chasing Durant, waiting is a no-brainer.

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