NBA free agency: Bradley Beal declines $36.4M option, but likely to stay with Wizards on max deal, per report

Bradley Beal’s future with the Washington Wizards has been a topic of discussion for years. Between trade and free agency rumors it feels like he’s always on the verge of leaving, and yet he never does. It appears that this summer will be more of the same. 

On Wednesday, Beal declined his $36.4 million player option for next season, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. However, just because he turned down the option doesn’t mean he’s leaving Washington. In fact, the opposite may be the case, as Beal is now eligible to sign a full five-year max extension with the Wizards, and he’s likely to do so based on intel from ESPN earlier this week:

“Per [Adrian] Wojnarowski, Beal is very likely to decline the option and re-sign with Washington on a five-year deal worth a projected $248 million that would take him through age 33.”

Last week, a report from The Athletic indicated that Beal had already made up his mind, but was not ready to reveal his decision. That coincides with him staying in D.C. While teams do often break the league’s tampering rules, mid-June would be quite early in the free agency process for Beal to have worked out a deal with a new team. Plus, there are few teams with actual max cap space this summer, and Beal will be able to make more money by staying the Wizards. 

During an interview with Taylor Rooks of Bleacher Report earlier this summer, Beal offered some insight into his decision-making process, citing both family considerations and winning as motivating factors. 

“Obviously, I consider my family,” Beal said. “What do they wanna do? Where do they wanna live? What are they comfortable with? And, obviously, the team. So, it is surreal in a lot of ways to be in the position I am in. It is crazy numbers. It is what it is. It’s uncontrollable. It’s out of my control. But I’m blessed to be here. Again, I don’t shy away from that. I take it on with a full front and I have to do what’s best for me. There is a little anxiety because I have to make the decision and time is counting down. We’re in June now. But it’s fun to be in this position.”

“I know what my decision will be based off of, and that’s gonna be where I feel like I can win. That’s going to be my decision. If I feel like I can win in DC, that’s what I’m gonna do. I want people to respect that.”

As for trying to win in Washington, you have to respect Beal’s commitment to the franchise. And with a healthy Beal, Kristaps Porzingis, Kyle Kuzma and a trio of lottery picks in Johnny Davis, Deni Avdija and Rui Hachimura, the Wizards should be a competitive club. The likely ceiling, though, is fighting for one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference rather than making any serious noise. 

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