In the end, All-Star guard Bradley Beal opted to extend his deal with the Wizards.
Beal, who was in line to be a Heat target in 2021 free agency, agreed to a two-year extension worth $72 million, ESPN reported Thursday. The extension begins with the 2021-22 season and includes a player option for 2022-23.
The extension removes Beal from the 2021 free agent class, when the Heat is projected to have maximum-level cap. It also makes Beal ineligible to be traded until after the 2019-20 season, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks.
Beal, 26, faced a Monday deadline to make a decision on the extension.
Another ramification from Beal’s extension is it moves his free agency window beyond Jimmy Butler’s contract with Miami. Butler is signed through 2022-23.
Trading for Beal during Butler’s prime years with the Heat is still a possibility, but it’s more complicated now. Not only is Beal not eligible to be traded until after the 2019-20 season, but the amount of teams willing to trade for Beal is likely to increase should he request a trade from the Wizards during the next few seasons because of the added years in his contract.
Beal’s impending free agency in 2021 was perceived as leverage should he ask for a trade from the Wizards, but that has been pushed back with the extension.
The extension guarantees Beal nearly $130 million over the next four seasons.
Beal was aware of Heat fans lobbying him on playing in Miami throughout extension negotiations.
“It’s hard to avoid it. I have a phone so I see it all,” Beal told NBCSports Washington. “I can post a picture of Deuce and someone will be like ‘Man, he needs some Miami sun!’ and I’m like ‘OK?’ It’s a great thing that a lot of people love your game and want you on their team, but I love the situation I have too.”
With Beal now out of the 2021 free agent class, the list of those who could still potentially be free agents in 2021 includes Giannis Antetoukounmpo, Gordon Hayward, Victor Oladipo, 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.
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.