Beal was one of the two top restricted free agents on the market, along with Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond, and there had been virtually no talk of him meeting with other teams leading up to the start of free agency because of the widely held belief the Wizards would quickly lock him up. That’s exactly how it turned out, as Washington committed to building around its back court of John Wall and Beal by inking Beal to a new contract.
Free agents were allowed to negotiate contracts beginning at 12:01 a.m. Friday but agreements cannot be made official until July 7. The Wizards and Beal will wait longer than that in order to maximize the team’s remaining room under the salary cap — roughly $31 million, based off the projection of $94 million projection. That’s because because they own his Bird Rights, a league exemption that allows teams to exceed the cap in order to re-sign their own players. Until his contract is official, Beal’s salary will count about $14 million toward the cap, a discount that leaves Washington with additional millions of dollars available.
The Wizards now have six players locked up for next season: Beal, Wall, Otto Porter Jr., Markieff Morris, Marcin Gortat and Kelly Oubre Jr.
There is no doubting Beal’s talent. Having just turned 23 on Tuesday, Beal has career averages of 16 points per game and has shot 39.7 percent from three-point range on more than four attempts per game throughout his four-year career. He was thought highly enough of to be given a shot at making the U.S. Olympic team this summer, though he eventually pulled himself from consideration in order to try and get himself ready for the start of next season.
None of that factors in his production during Washington’s postseason runs in both 2014 and 2015, when he averaged 21.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists and shot 39 percent from three-point range.
There are doubts, however, about Beal’s ability to stay healthy. He has played more than 70 games just once in his career and played just 55 last season. The past two seasons he’s dealt with recurring stress injuries in his right leg, something that he said could lead to his minutes being monitored over the remainder of his career.
“Probably. Especially with the way my body works,” Beal said in January. “It doesn’t want to listen to me so I got to, as much as I can, take care of it and be smart about it and probably moving forward through the rest of my career, it’s probably something that’s probably going to happen every year.”
The Wizards hope Beal grows out of those issues, and they’re making changes to their training staff this summer, as well. But if Beal can overcome them, Washington can say it has one of the better back courts in the NBA, and the Wizards will now head into the rest of July trying to fill out the roster around them.
The expectation is Washington will sign at least three additional players with its cap space, with the small cap holds of Ramon Sessions and Garrett Temple (about $6 million combined) possibly allowing them both to come back, too.
One of the players Washington is thought to want to sign is 2012 second round pick Tomas Satoransky, a 6-foot-7 guard from the Czech Republic who played last season for FC Barcelona. He averaged 12 points and 4.2 assists while shooting 36.6 percent from three-point range in 29 games in Euroleague play for Barcelona this past season.
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