Don’t judge a book by its cover – even if that cover looks like it wants to simultaneously cry and rip-off a teddy bear’s head. Let me re-phrase that: I think it’s fair to say a 4-12 start to the season is not sitting well with Wizards superstar Bradley Beal.
Bradley Beal was going through it on the bench. pic.twitter.com/OFLbkdbVMe
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 27, 2021
Bradley Beal’s fully checked out
— NBA Retweet (@RTNBA) February 1, 2021
Averaging the most points per game in the NBA (a ridiculous 34.9), he simply looks like a player who deserves and wants better. In fact, this has been the case for years, as the Wizards have struggled to surpass anything more than mediocrity. Fans and analysts alike have always been quick to vouch for a trade on Beal’s behalf, and that has really kicked into high gear over the past few weeks, with speculation about the Bulls as possible suitors even entering the mix more recently.
However, yet again, Beal and the Wizards have let people know they have zero plans to separate. The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Fred Katz published a report on Tuesday that reiterated Beal’s devotion to the Wizards organization and vice versa (apparently despite his body language). Additionally, if anything, Beal’s frustration stems from the number of people believing that he must find his way out of DC.
He is privately frustrated and confused with the perpetual portrayal of his situation, according to sources familiar with his thinking. After seeing other players take criticism for requesting to leave teams, those sources say Beal feels he’s getting nitpicked for choosing to stay in D.C., where he began his NBA career in 2012. He felt similarly when he signed an extension in October 2019. Speculation about his future has swirled since before then.
For years, between claims he wants to retire as a Wizard, Beal has shared a consistent viewpoint. His first priority is to win with the Wizards, the franchise that drafted the 27-year-old when he was just a teenager. He’s giving them opportunities to show it can happen.
Beal is under contract for one more season with Washington before having a player option for the 2022-23 season. I’d say the expectation right now would be that Beal opts not to exercise that option in hopes of signing a max-contract in its place, but I guess anything is possible. What his contract situation tells us, though, is that the Wizards have time, and it appears they have no plans to trade away a superstar without using every chance they have to convince him there is a bright future in the organization. I can totally understand that.
At the same time, Beal speculation has not gone away before … and it is not going away now. I still expect this to be a major topic of conversation throughout the NBA community, especially if the Wizards continue to struggle and especially next season when he is (most likely) on an expiring deal. As for any Beal-to-the-Bulls rumors? We can probably put that on hold for now.