Triple NBA All-Star Bradley Beal has agreed to a five-year $250 million contract to join the Washington Wizardsthe team that drafted him third overall in 2012, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN†
Beal turned down a $36.4 million option with the Wizards in the 2022-23 season to enter free agency. Tommy Sheppard, director of Beal and Wizards, previously expressed his optimism that his new contract would be completed.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m here,” Beal said last March after staying in Washington, to which Shepard added in April: “I feel any indication he’s given me is that he wants to be here to move forward. “
The highest amount any other team could have offered Beal was $185 million over the next four seasons.
Beal averaged 23.2 points (on 45/30/83 shootings), 6.6 assists and 4.7 rebounds in 36 minutes over 40 games during a disjointed season last season. The 29-year-old entered the COVID-19 health and safety protocols twice during the 2021-22 campaign before missing the last 32 games with a left wrist injury that required surgery.
In the previous two seasons, Beal averaged 30.9 points, establishing himself as one of the NBA’s top scorers.
His personal success, including an All-NBA appearance in 2021, has not translated into team success since he and John Wall led the Wizards to Game 7 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Semifinals. Wall suffered a series of injuries that limited him to 74 games over the next three seasons, and Washington ended up losing the remainder of his salary to the Houston Rockets, along with a first-round pick to Russell Westbrook.
Beal and Westbrook teamed up for a sub-.500 season in 2020-21, losing a first-round playoff series to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Wizards then traded Westbrook to the Los Angeles Lakers in August 2021 in exchange for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma. Washington took a record 14-8 in December 2021 when the pandemic, injuries and another roster upheaval derailed the season.
Beal is now entering the 2022-23 season with an all-new supporting cast for what appears to be the fourth time in as many years since Tommy Sheppard took on Ernie Grunfeld’s general management duties.
In addition to Westbrook, Caldwell-Pope, Harrell, Kuzma, here are 27 other Beal co-starters since 2019: Deni Avdija, Jordan Bell, Davis Bertans, Isaac Bonga, Troy Brown, Thomas Bryant, Spencer Dinwiddie, Daniel Gafford, Anthony Gill, Rui Hachimura, Aaron Holiday, Corey Kispert, Alex Len, Robin Lopez, Ian Mahinmi, Garrison Matthews, Shabazz Napier, Raul Neto, Gary Payton II, Jerome Robinson, Admiral Schofield, Ish Smith, Isaiah Thomas, Mo Wagner, Brad Wanamaker and Johnathan Willems .
Anyone who takes a reasonable look at that list, coupled with Wall’s injuries and Westbrook’s inefficiencies, cannot simply blame Beal for the three playoff wins in the five years since his 38 points in a Game 7 nearly drove the Wizards to the finals of the conference. Beal is undoubtedly a special talent.
The question is whether his performance warrants a $250 million investment over the next five seasons.
The Wizards acquired one-time All-Star Kristaps Porzingis on the February trading deadline. They added Johnny Davis in the draft to a list of recent lottery picks, including Hachimura, Avdija and Kispert. And they traded Caldwell-Pope and Smith for Will Barton and Monte Morris prior to free agency. None of that inspires much confidence that Washington will once again be more than first-round fodder this season.
The Wizards also still owe their pick in the first round of 2023 to the Houston Rockets, if it ends up in the lottery, which isn’t much of an organizational motivation to make the playoffs. So the Wizards continue to pose no serious threat to winning in the playoffs or winning the lottery in this mid-term. If they can’t build a better roster around Beal, they will hope his new contract retains trade value as there is a breaking point for both sides in this partnership. Beal’s deal is the acknowledgment that neither is willing to give up the other.
Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer for Yahoo Sports. Do you have a tip? Mail him to [email protected] or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach