- The Washington Times
Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Washington Wizards will not have to worry about whether to extend Bradley Beal this summer.

Beal was not named to any of the three All-NBA teams when they were announced Thursday, meaning the 25-year-old guard will not be eligible to receive the designated veteran extension — colloquially known as the supermax — this summer.

If Beal, who is under contract for two more seasons, had qualified, he could have been offered a four-year, $191 million extension this summer, and the Wizards would have had a major decision to make about whether to do it. Likewise, Beal would have had to seriously consider whether to accept it.

But now, the Wizards can focus on other decisions — such as whether to trade Beal anyway after they hire a new general manager.

Beal received 31 votes from media members to be named on the league’s third All-NBA team, the most of any player who failed to qualify for a spot.

Instead, Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Houston’s James Harden, Portland’s Damian Lillard, Boston’s Kyrie Irving, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook and Charlotte’s Kemba Walker were all named to the six guard spots ahead of Beal.

Each All-NBA team is made up of a traditional starting lineup, featuring two guards, two forwards and one center.

Coming off a career year, Beal had a strong argument to be named All-NBA for the first time. He led the league in minutes and averaged 25.6 points, 5.5 assists and 5.0 rebounds per game — all of which were career highs. Despite Washington winning only 32 games, Beal established himself as one of the top players in the league.

But the Wizards, at least, have to be partially relieved that Beal didn’t make it. Though it advocated for his candidacy, Washington knows first-hand how offering a supermax extension can turn out poorly.

John Wall’s four-year, $170 million contract — which kicks in next season — is regarded as one of the league’s worst deals, given the star point guard’s numerous injuries since he signed the pact in July 2017. Supermax players can make 35 % of a team’s salary cap each year.

Beal doesn’t have the injury history that Wall has, though that’s still a lot of money to commit to a player. Because of the NBA’s very specific qualifications to even earn a supermax extension, only four players — Curry, Harden, Westbrook and Wall — have ever signed such a deal.

The Wizards would have also been put into a tricky situation if Beal would have declined that extension. Beal has been adamant about his love for Washington, but turning down such a deal — if offered — would have been telling.

Asked about the possibility of an extension at the end of the season, Beal said he’d have to think about it first.

“I wanna be able to know that we’re going in the right direction in the future,” said Beal, whose current contract expires in 2021. “Obviously, this is where I wanna be. Everybody knows that. … But when you’re thinking about your future and your career and the legacy that you wanna live, you wanna be a winner at the end of the day and do whatever it takes to do that.”

Washington’s potential dilemma, however, could arise again next season. If Beal makes All-NBA in 2020, he will still be eligible for a supermax extension — and next time it would be worth even more money. Players about to enter the last year of their contract — or hit free agency — who also qualify for the supermax can sign a new deal worth five years instead of four.

Take Walker, for instance. After he was named to the third team Thursday, the Charlotte Hornets guard can sign now sign a five-year, $221.3 million contract instead of a five-year, $189.7 million deal when he hits free agency this summer, granted the Hornets offer it. Walker missed out on All-NBA last season.

Washington, of course, can always avoid this scenario by opting to trade Beal. Over the last few weeks, there has been increasing speculation about whether Washington would be willing to move Beal — the team’s best trade piece. If Washington is looking to rebuild, Beal would likely be highly sought after and could bring a return of young players with upside.

Yet with Beal missing out on All-NBA, the pressure to trade Beal is less than it would have been with the drama of an extension forcing the issue.

After the Wizards fell in the draft lottery last week, they finally received a bit of luck.



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