Over the last few seasons, Washington Wizards All-Star guard Bradley Beal has established himself as one of the premier players in the league at his position. It has also made him a cornerstone piece of the puzzle for the Wizards’ long-term future. The franchise secured him for the next few seasons as he decided to ink a two-year, $72 million extension. However, the reasoning behind it may be more apparent than you think.
Bradley Beal’s rise to stardom
In his first few seasons in the league, Beal showed the potential to be one of the better guards in the Eastern Conference behind his shooting ability from beyond the arc.
However, injuries plagued him as he played less than 70 games three times in his first four years. It saw him play 56 games or fewer twice over that span. Beal looks to have gotten past those nagging issues as he has played in at least 77 games in the last three straight campaigns while taking the floor in every regular-season game in the past two seasons.
It allowed him to continue his development as he has notched three straight years averaging more than 22.0 points per contest while earning back-to-back All-Star selections. Beal is coming off his best campaign after taking an increased role with John Wall sidelined as he averaged 25.6 points, 5.5 assists, and 5.0 rebounds.
He also reached some impressive milestones along the way, becoming the franchise leader in made 3-pointers, the youngest in NBA history to hit 900 three-pointers, and was the first Wizards player to average at least 25.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists. All of this has established him as one of the elite guards in the game.
Bradley Beal’s financial incentive
The Wizards have made it no secret that they hold Beal in high regard as their franchise cornerstone player. That remained the case throughout the disappointing 2018-19 season despite constant trade rumors around the franchise.
The front office stayed committed to Beal, which has taken that to heart after agreeing to a two-year, $72 million extension that runs through the 2021-22 season with a $37.2 million player option for the 2022-23 campaign. However, there appears to be a more significant financial reason for Beal to re-up with the Wizards as he could ink a record-breaking deal in the summer of 2022, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.N.
Assuming that Beal, 26, declines his player option upon reaching 10 years of service in 2022 to re-sign with Washington, he would be eligible to sign the largest contract in NBA history: five years for $266 million.
Beal has been quite keen on his desire to stay with the franchise throughout turbulent times, but the opportunity to earn a record-setting deal is undoubtedly a factor. This type of contract would also make one other notion quite clear as well.
Bradley Beal: Face of the franchise?
Throughout the last several seasons, the Wizards have been led by the play of their dynamic backcourt duo of Beal and Wall, leading them to four playoff appearances in the last six years.
The situation has shifted into a rebuilding phase, with Kentucky product struggling to stay healthy over the last two seasons as he has missed 91 regular-season games. On top of that, Wall is expected to miss the entire upcoming season due to rupturing his Achilles tendon.
It has only further clouded his long-term future with the franchise despite having four years and $171 million left on his contract. Beal now has an opportunity to supplant Wall as the face of the franchise as the leading offensive factor to lead their young roster with the likes of Thomas Bryant and rookie forward Rui Hachimura.
The 26-year-old may not be intentionally taking over the reins of the team, but the unreliability of Wall’s health has positioned him to be the cornerstone of the future in Washington.