Beal’s Time With Wizards Nearing Necessary Expiration


Sometimes, it’s best to just rip the band-aid off. Now, after years’ worth of rumors, Washington finds itself one step closer to doing that with Bradley Beal.

The Wizards lacked direction, philosophy and success since Beal took over as the franchise’s cornerstone. Beal secured control as the team’s best player in 2017-2018, when former Wizards icon John Wall played just 32 games and dealt with a handful of damaging injuries. The Wizards won 43 games and lost in the first round, and that was the best they could do with Beal at the helm.

Between 2019 and 2023, Washington managed just one playoff appearance in 2021 and zero seasons above .500. This was a team stuck in NBA purgatory: too good to bottom-out, but not good enough to even make the lower-end of the playoffs in the East.

  • 2018-2019: 32-50, no playoff appearance
  • 2019-2020: 25-47, no playoff appearance
  • 2020-2021: 34-38, first-round exit
  • 2021-2022: 35-47, no playoff appearance
  • 2022-2023: 35-47, no playoff appearance

Washington doubled-down with Beal, signing him to a five-year, over $250 million extension in June 2022 with a no-trade clause and a 15% trade kicker— the second-largest contract in NBA history at the time. Way before this past season started in August 2022, The Lead outlined the clear consequences of the extension; 17 days before pen was put to paper on the extension, there were clear incentives listed out in favor of getting rid of Beal before it was too late.

Somehow, there’s still hope for Wizards’ fans. Washington hired Los Angeles Clippers general manager Michael Winger in search of a new direction, implying an inevitable change in direction.

Now, Winger faces the fun part: what come’s next? Will Beal truly be on the move? What is the priority for the franchise moving forward?

Beal’s current trade value

Winger’s main priority seems to be finding a direction of some kind for the team’s future. One of those options, especially in a rebuild scenario, includes getting off the Beal deal as soon as possible.

Washington faces three hurdles with any Beal trade. First, there’s the obvious no-trade clause.

Currently, Beal has an influence to decide his basketball fate. He possesses the power to veto a trade to another team he doesn’t find is in his best interests. Immediately, that puts a ceiling to any major asset haul Washington could receive in return.

Second, that’s before factoring in the financial side to any Beal trade. Beal remains under contract for another four years at approximately $208 million. Heading into his age-30 season, Beal arguably peaked as an All-NBA caliber player years ago.

Really? Well, take a look at the numbers. He played just 50 games this past season. In total, Beal has missed 101 games in the past four years, or roughly 33% of the Wizards’ 308 regular-season games. Beal also remains outside the recent All-NBA team consideration with the exception of a lone third team nod in 2021. In fact, he hasn’t even made the All-Star team the last two seasons.

At face value, Beal projects currently as a maybe All-Star heading into his thirties with an incredibly-expensive contract. Not the most premium asset, right?

Plus, even Beal’s counting stats show regression when you compare 2021 to his last two years:

Beal in 2021 versus 2022 and 2023

  • Points per game: 31.3 –> 23.2
  • Field-goal percentage (attempts per game): 49% (23.0) –> 48% (18.3)
  • Three-point percentage (attempts per game): 35% (6.2) –> 33% (4.8)
  • Free-throw percentage (attempts per game): 89% (7.7) –> 84% (4.8)

In other words, Beal projects as a hard asset to sell off.


An active trade market

Teams looking to add more firepower offensively remain in the mix to add Beal. Rumors continue to pour in from multiple teams like Miami and Phoenix. So, the market is still there to trade Beal.

Two questions follow: what archetype of team is interested in acquiring Beal and what will it take to do so?

The first of those is easy to answer. Several teams — including Miami and Philadelphia — are seeking legit scorers who can elevate their playoff offenses and keep everything afloat in the regular season. More importantly, those franchises possess the defensive infrastructure to hide Beal’s limitations on that end of the court. They also possess a legit franchise cornerstone, so Beal can serve as the ideal number-two to someone like a Jimmy Butler or Joel Embiid.

The hard part comes in what Washington can garner in a Beal trade. That no-trade clause, to an extent, means Beal can choose his own destination in any deal.

On the flip side, however, the Wizards do have some leverage here. With Beal under contract for four more years, there technically isn’t a rush to ship him off. Even with all the obstacles, Washington can at least look to obtain any one of cap flexibility, an asset and/or a young-ish, promising player in return.

Winger’s goal remains putting the franchise in the best spot possible towards a brighter future than the current state. That mindset in itself is something Wizards’ fans desperately need. In other words, a Beal trade means Washington is getting out of a bad situation before it becomes locked into his deal moving forward and cripples any chance at a reset.

Will Beal get moved? Rumors are just rumors, after all. But, the pieces are there to hit the reset button.

And, as long as a Beal trade doesn’t completely torpedo Winger picking a concrete direction for the Wizards, it might be best to rip the band-aid off while he still can.

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About Dominic Chiappone

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