With the Draft now in the rear view mirror, there’s less than a week until NBA free agency starts on June 30, and the big wonder around the Wizards is what will happen with Bradley Beal, who is reportedly opting out of the final year of his contract to test unrestricted free agency.
To Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard, though, June 30 is just a date on the calendar, because the team is committed to doing whatever it takes to retain Beal, and has been building that path for a while.
“We’ve been committed to Bradley since we drafted him, and we’ve had the experience of watching him grow into an All-NBA player who has made multiple All-Star teams,” Sheppard told The Sports Junkies Friday morning. “He missed half of last year injured, but the year before that, he led the league in scoring until the very end. That’s a dang good player, and we’re committed to him and look forward to having him in uniform for years to come.”
Beal’s projected max salary in free agency is $43 million for 2022-23, about $6.5 million more than he would make if he opted into the final year of his deal, and long-term, a supermax deal would net him $248 million over five years with the Wizards or $235 million over four years elsewhere.
Simple math says the former is security and the latter has a chance for more money overall, and with the Wizards in one of the better salary cap positions in the league, both are on the table. Beal has said he’s leaning towards re-upping in DC, and Sheppard thinks “the business will take care of itself.”
“He wants to win; we have that very much in common, and we can show him everything we’ve done to this point since I’ve been here,” Sheppard said. “He’s the last player left from when we lost to Boston (in the 20xx playoffs). We’ve changed this roster to get more athletic, and we have better shooting, I think. We’re not afraid to go out and get talent, but it takes talent to get talent.”
Sheppard noted in that last vein that getting Kristaps Porzingis at last year’s trade deadline was a big step towards that reload, even if it came in a year without Beal for the most part.
“I don’t know what else we could’ve done; he missed half the year injured, and if you take the best player off any team, you’re not going to be half as good,” Sheppard said. “But we acquired Porzingis at the deadline, and that was a big move for us to add a guy who can put up 25 and 10 an night.
The two-man game they can play with the young talent around them…I think Brad likes what he sees.”
Sheppard also pointed to the legacy notion, being that Beal is the last man standing from the last Wizards playoff run – but he’s also not taking anything for granted.
“I think he sees the future here as something he can make a big legacy for himself by turning this team around and leading us to a championship.
That’s within his grasp, but we have to continue to build, and to get to those places, we really can’t skip steps,” Sheppard said. “I wait until the day we can sign him; I do not take anything for granted because free agency is a hectic business, but we’ve put our best foot forward with Bradley and our goal is to see him finish his career here.”
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroWFAN