Dwyane Wade on his special moment with Bradley Beal
After landing four-time All-Star Jimmy Butler this summer, the Heat’s search for a second established star is ongoing. That search could take days, months or even years.
One star who could be an option for Miami is Wizards guard Bradley Beal, depending on his approach to the two seasons remaining on his current contract. The Heat and the rest of the NBA will soon learn a little more about Beal’s future plans.
The Wizards became eligible Friday — exactly three years after the former Florida Gators guard signed his max deal — to offer an extension to Beal. Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard, who was promoted to the role this offseason, said the organization will present Beal with a three-year, $111 million maximum contract extension.
“The biggest thing is for people to understand is that’s out of respect to Bradley,” Sheppard said during an appearance on The Woj Pod with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, regarding the Wizards offering Beal the full max extension on the first day it is allowed to. “That’s the first moment we can do that and we want to make sure he hears it from us. Our commitment to him has never wavered. And I want to say this, Bradley’s commitment to us has never wavered.”
Beal, 26, has until Oct. 21 to sign the extension, which would start with the 2021-22 season. He is entering his eighth NBA season.
“There are moments in a career where there are big decisions to make, and Brad will work through everything and figure out the right thing to do,” agent Mark Bartelstein said to ESPN earlier this week.
Even if Beal passes on the extension, Sheppard told ESPN the Wizards have no plans to engage in trade talks with two years and $55.8 million remaining on his contract. Sheppard added that Washington would also be willing to do a one- or two-year extension.
Beal could also be eligible to sign a five-year, $254 million supermax extension next summer if he earns All-NBA honors this upcoming season, and would otherwise be eligible for a four-year, $155 million max extension next summer. If Beal completely declines signing an extension with the Wizards, he could become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2021.
“He’s got two years left on his deal, and he’s from Missouri and we are going to have to show him,” Sheppard said to ESPN. “We need to show him that we are about building this the right way, that we aren’t going to have character-deficient guys around him. We are going to surround him with guys he wants to play with.”
The Heat has displayed strong interest in trading for Beal, and there is even sentiment inside the Heat organization to take on the final four years and $171 million of injured point guard John Wall’s contract if it would allow Miami to land Beal, according to sources.
If Beal passes on signing an extension with the Wizards, the Heat currently would be able to open maximum-level cap space when he’s scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in the 2021 offseason.
Along with Beal, the potential 2021 free agent class includes Giannis Antetoukounmpo, Gordon Hayward, CJ McCollum, Victor Oladipo, Andre Drummond, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Rudy Gobert. Also, LeBron James, Blake Griffin, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard have player options to become free agents in the summer of 2021.
If Beal turns down Washington’s extension offer, it could also put the Wizards in a situation where they have to decide whether they want to allow the final two seasons on his contract to play out or trade him before he hits free agency to avoid losing him for nothing in return.
The Wizards did not make the playoffs last season, finishing with a 32-50 record. With Wall expected to miss the upcoming season because of a ruptured Achilles and Beal still the only healthy star on the roster, outside expectations for Washington aren’t high.
“I’ve never had any problem ignoring the noise that goes on around us,” Sheppard said of the trade rumors involving Beal during his appearance on The Woj Pod. “We just put our head down and do the job that’s been asked to do. We’ve identified Bradley as a cornerstone to this franchise, right there with John Wall. And John Wall, he earned that supermax contract. Injuries don’t care what you make or who you are, they happen. That took John off the floor, and that certainly changed the way we were able to play and Bradley adapted and rose and did a fantastic job. We have to put more talent out on the floor next to him. I think this summer was a nod to that.”
Beal averaged a career-best 25.6 points, five rebounds and 5.5 assists last season. James Harden, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, James, Antetokounmpo and Beal were the only six players who finished with those averages last season.
According to a league source, the Heat’s free agent pitch to Butler this summer came with the understanding the organization would be aggressive in trying to add another star to the roster. Whether it ends up being Beal or not, expect Miami to remain on the hunt.