Bradley Beal declines $36.4 million option with Wizards to become free agent

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Bradley Beal is officially on the open market.

The 29-year-old guard declined his $36.4 million player option with the Washington Wizards on Wednesday and will now be eligible to become a free agent, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

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As a free agent, Beal can sign a five-year max deal to return to the Wizards worth close to $250 million, or sign elsewhere on a four-year deal in the $180 million range.

Financially, a return to the Wizards makes the most sense, but Shams Charania of The Athletic reported earlier this year that the Miami Heat — fresh off an Eastern Conference Finals appearance — would be a contender to pursue Beal as a free agent.

Beal had said on Draymond Green’s podcast earlier this year that he is “kind of embracing everything” but added “it’s nothing better than grinding it out and kind of doing it on your own.”

Wizards team president Tommy Sheppard expressed confidence Beal would return when talking to reporters at the end of the season.

“I feel every indication he’s given me is that he wants to be here moving forward,” Sheppard said. “I stick to the 10 years of confidence I have in the relationship we’ve had.”

Beal, a three-time All-Star, has spent his entire career in Washington since the Wizards drafted him third overall in the 2012 NBA Draft.

He’s averaged 22.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game over the last 10 years.

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