Mary Altaffer/Associated Press
This season, Bradley Beal became the 13th player in NBA history to average at least 25 points, five rebounds and five assists in an age-25 (or younger) season.
His company on that list is, well, see for yourself: LeBron James, Tracy McGrady, Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, Jerry West, Kobe Bryant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Clyde Drexler, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Chris Mullin and Dwyane Wade.
The average Hall of Fame probability of those 12 players is 87.3 percent. Giannis (who has only played six seasons) and Mullin (who is already in) are the only two the formula doesn’t consider locks or virtual locks.
Now, this doesn’t mean Beal is well on his way to the Hall. His own probability sits at just 0.6 percent. But with John Wall out for most of the season, Beal joined exclusive company as the undisputed No. 1, and the Washington Wizards are understandably interested in keeping him around as long as possible.
“We want to make sure he hears it from us: our commitment to him has never wavered,” Washington general manager Tommy Sheppard told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski when asked about offering a max three-year, $111 million extension. “And I want to say this: Bradley’s commitment to us has never wavered.”
With the NBA’s salary cap set to go up for a couple more years, Beal can sign for 30 percent of a higher cap when the two years left on his current deal are up. If Wall misses most or all of next season, Beal has a shot at an All-NBA team and a 35 percent supermax.
It doesn’t make a ton of financial sense for Beal to sign the $111 million deal Washington can offer this summer. It may not make a ton of basketball sense, either.
Washington’s 2019-20 over/under is at just 28.5 wins. Over the course of Beal’s seven-year career, the team’s winning percentage is below .500. As he enters his prime, the Wizards are tethered to Wall’s contract, one of the most cumbersome in the league.
There’s no way to know what Wall will look like when he returns from his torn Achilles. Even if he’s all the way back to his old self, his contract makes building a contender tricky. Add all this up and it would be hard to blame Beal for getting a little NBA wanderlust.
Thus far, he’s offered no hints that he might pull an Anthony Davis or a Paul George and demand out. But if he does, Washington would be wise to at least consider it. The Wizards don’t want to end up waiting too long and getting nothing for their star—like the Charlotte Hornets did with Kemba Walker.
Even if Beal doesn’t ask out, this is a possibility that deserves exploration.
It’s tough to see a path to title contention for the Wizards, and Beal has the only contract on the books that would fetch the kind of assets that could kick start an effective rebuild.
Several have posited the idea of the Denver Nuggets sending Gary Harris, Michael Porter Jr., salary filler and multiple draft picks for Beal. In combination with Rui Hachimura, that’s the kind of package that would give Washington an intriguing young core.