The NBA is in an age when star players are dictating the balance of power in the league, prompting huge moves even if they’re still under contract. Bradley Beal has been on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Despite the Wizards finishing last season with their worst record since 2012-2013 and appearing to be in rebuilding mode, Beal has continued to express his preference to stay with the team. But as the Wizards prepare to offer the 26-year-old Beal a contract extension next week, that loyalty will be put to the test.
Beal, who has two years and just over $55 million left on his current deal, can officially be offered a three-year, $111 million extension on July 26, but The Washington Post reports there’s belief he could leave the team.
“He’s out of here,” one source told the paper.
Beal has drawn serious interest from around the league after making his second All-Star Game last season and becoming the first player in Wizards history to average 25 points, five assists and five rebounds.
“Whether or not [Beal] stays there, I really couldn’t tell you,” an Eastern Conference senior executive told the paper. “But I know that there’s a lot of teams out there that would love him.”
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The Wizards have had a vacancy at general manager since firing Ernie Grunfeld in April. Tommy Shepard has served as the team’s interim president of basketball operations, guiding them through a free agency during which they re-signed centre Thomas Bryant, traded Dwight Howard and let 27-year-old point guard Thomas Satoransky depart to the Bulls, favouring younger players with one or fewer years of NBA service.
Washington’s front-office vacancy likely won’t be resolved by the time Beal receives the extension offer, and that uncertainty will affect Beal’s decision.
“I’d be naive to say I wouldn’t be [interested in extension talks],” Beal told The Washington Post in June. “Washington is where I’ve been the last seven years, going on eight. It would be great to play in one place forever. But at the same time, you want to win and make sure you’re in a position to do so. I’m definitely going to evaluate who we hire as the GM and who we pick up on the team. All that plays a factor.”
With John Wall expected to miss all of next season as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles, the Wizards likely will be a lottery team again.
If Beal turns down his extension next week, the Wizards will likely be forced to shop their prized guard to avoid losing him for nothing. With the Thunder trading Paul George to the Clippers and Russell Westbrook to the Rockets, and the Pelicans shipping Anthony Davis to the Lakers this off-season, Washington will have plenty of precedents to follow.
CAVALIERS MOVING ON FROM JR SMITH
JR Smith hits during the All Star MLB Celebrity Softball game earlier this month. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)Source:AP
For teams looking to add another shooter to their rosters, a former NBA champion just became available.
The Cleveland Cavaliers waived JR Smith before his contract for next season became guaranteed, according to The Athletic, making him a free agent. Smith will receive a $4.4 million-plus payout from the team, which would have owed him $15.6 million if he stayed on the books.
Cleveland, which has been looking to trade the former Knick since November, arranged to move his guarantee date from June 30 to July 15 in order to look for a potential trade partner, which never materialised. By waiving and stretching Smith’s guaranteed money, Cleveland now moves below the luxury tax.
Smith, who was a key part of the Cavaliers’ 2016 championship team, played in only 11 games last season before deciding to leave the team as he waited to be traded or waived. Smith has shot 37 per cent from behind the arc during his 15-year career.
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