Wizards guard Bradley Beal (AP Photo Alex Brandon)
Despite playing no role in the ongoing playoffs, the Washington Wizards still managed to break into NBA news this week.
Sources told The Washington Post on May 27 that the Wizards are set to offer shooting guard Bradley Beal a contract for the league maximum when free agency begins on July 1. A five-year maximum contract under next season’s projected salary cap would pay Beal close to $22 million in 2016-2017, and approximately $124 million over the lifetime of the deal.
Securing Beal would give the Wizards a backcourt stocked with max players, as all-star John Wall is currently playing for a maximum deal he signed in 2013. Whether Beal’s past play and injuries are worthy of such a costly deal is an open question, but 22-year-old guards who can shoot, dunk, run the court and defend typically receive top-dollar deals.
Making the deal even more of a no-brainer is the fact that Washington doesn’t have a capable body on the roster to replace Beal if he departs. Keeping Beal’s services will be pricey, but if the NBA salary cap continues to rise as expected, then the deal will look better down the road. The current NBA salary cap for teams sits at $70 million, but is rumored to jump to somewhere between $89 and $92 million for the 2016- 2017 season.
Under the projected cap for next season, Washington could re-sign Beal to the max and still have close to $30 million in available cap space to fill out their roster and maybe even sign another top-tier player. The Wizards could be sitting even prettier the following season, with reports that the NBA salary cap could potentially rise to $109 million for the 2017-2018 campaign.
Clearly, the Wizards intend to keep Beal on the roster, no matter the cost. Depending on what Washington does in free agency, next year’s core group has some youth appeal to it. Wall and Beal will only be 26 and 23 years old, respectively, when next season starts. Aside from 32-year old center Marcin Gortat, next year’s forward rotation will feature Otto Porter (23), Kelly Oubre (20) and Markieff Morris, who will turn 27 before the season starts. Morris may face punishment next season from the league, however; the Associated Press reported that Morris was recently detained at a Philadelphia airport on suspicions of marijuana possession.
With Beal expected to be stay in D.C., the newly-acquired Morris still settling in and new coach Scott Brooks secured, Washington can now focus on refortifying its roster. Any hope of landing Kevin Durant seems to have fled, but Washington should still be able to pick from a deep group of capable veteran free agents. They appear to have conquered their first two offseason goals in landing a coach and retaining Beal. All that’s left for the team to do is bring in some additional help.