Bradley Beal‘s name seems to pop up in the rumor mill every single year. Opposing players would likely love the chance to play with Beal. But through it all, Beal remains committed to the organization that drafted him back in 2012.
Beal voiced a familiar message about being a franchise cornerstone following the Washington Wizards‘ win over the Boston Celtics. However, the timing of the statement feels more significant this time, given Washington’s strong start to the 2021-22 season.
Bradley Beal is hoping to building a winner with the Wizards
Basketball media stirs the pot regarding Bradley Beal’s trade prospects and purported unhappiness in the nation’s capital. But Beal never requested a trade and occasionally found subtle ways to refute the rumors.
Beal wants to be in D.C. He said as much once again on Saturday. The 28-year-old passionately insisted he wants to build the Wizards into a winner.
Washington has made it abundantly clear that Beal is its franchise player. But a lack of success on the court, constant trade rumors, and Beal’s impending player option all played roles in making his future in D.C. seem more uncertain.
However, the Wizards made a slew of changes to the roster this offseason, and those moves have paid big dividends early. Beal sounds reenergized and ready to lead Washington into the future, making his declaration of loyalty all the more important.
The Wizards are 5-1 despite Beal’s slow start
The Wizards are one of the early surprises of the 2021-22 NBA season.
Washington is 5-1 to start the new campaign, including a pair of wins over the Celtics and a marquee victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday. The Wizards have made enormous strides defensively, ranking ninth in defensive rating thus far.
What’s more impressive is the fact that Washington is winning despite Beal’s poor start. The St. Louis native is averaging 24.4 points on just 36.3% shooting from the field, including a mere 21.6% from beyond the arc. He hasn’t been able to get it cooking from the perimeter despite making a concerted effort to shoot the ball better from deep during the offseason.
Beal’s teammates are picking up the slack. The returns from the Russell Westbrook trade have been solid. Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell are averaging double-doubles in points and rebounds, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is shooting over 46% from the three-point line.
Others are showing out as well. Spencer Dinwiddie is a viable scoring threat and much-needed playmaker in the backcourt. Daniel Gafford can score in bursts and gives the Wizards a tremendous rim protector off the bench.
This Wizards team looks more complete and well-rounded than it has in years past. Some could attribute the team’s fast start to the culture fostered by new head coach Wes Unseld Jr. Regardless, Beal sounds more excited than ever to be in D.C. That’s enormous for Washington, given it will almost certainly have to re-sign him next summer.
Can the Wizards keep winning and convince Beal to stay in D.C.?
It’s highly improbable that the Wizards finish the season at or near the top of the Eastern Conference standings. Still, their ability to make strides and paint a promising picture with this new group might well determine their chances of re-signing their star.
Beal has a $36 million player option for the 2022-23 season, one he almost certainly will decline. The Wizards should probably be willing to write a blank check considering they’ve handed Beal the keys. Still, financial compensation probably won’t matter if the combo guard doesn’t feel confident about the team’s future.
For now, though, Beal’s words matter. He sounds more optimistic about the Wizards than ever, saying (h/t Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington) that Washington could be “scary” when everyone is healthy and firing on all cylinders.
Wizards fans should be equally optimistic about the team’s outlook and ability to keep Beal in The District.