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Bradley Beal says he’s leaning toward re-signing with the Wizards

Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal is out for the season with a wrist injury. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)
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With his left arm in a cast, Bradley Beal sat in the Washington Wizards’ practice facility Thursday and shed light on the franchise’s most important question. Beal said he is leaning toward re-signing with the Wizards this offseason, a move that would lock in Washington’s cornerstone player and provide the organization the most stability it has had since it traded John Wall 15 months ago.

Although this is the most straightforward answer Beal has given about his future in Washington, it is not surprising that he would return to the Wizards. The three-time all-star is eligible to sign a five-year deal worth roughly $245 million this summer if he declines his 2022-23 player option and enters free agency.

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Beal and the Wizards have had a happy relationship since Washington drafted him third overall in 2012. In recent years, he has shown the organization rare loyalty through tumultuous times — fidelity the Wizards returned by giving Beal the privileged status as the face of the franchise.

General Manager Tommy Sheppard not only built the team around Beal, but he and owner Ted Leonsis engaged the 28-year-old when it came time to make critical trades and a coaching hire last summer.

Before Beal had a season-ending operation on his left wrist the day of the NBA trade deadline on Feb. 10, Sheppard gave him a “master plan” of deals the team was looking at and a rundown of how the day might go.

“He kept me informed,” Beal said Thursday in his first appearance before reporters since his surgery.

Beal’s relationship with Washington isn’t the only reason it would make sense for him to re-sign. Locking in a supermax offer from an organization Beal trusts looks more prudent than it has in past years given what was by his own admission a subpar performance this season.

The guard averaged 23.2 points and 6.6 assists in 40 games. His 45.1 percent shooting from the field was worst since the 2015-16 season, and his 30 percent shooting from three was the lowest of his career. Last season, he was named to an all-NBA team and was an all-star starter for the first time.

Although Beal found it difficult to evaluate his season because it was incomplete, he said his injury does not change his calculus in deciding his future. He will don a cast for seven more weeks, then he expects to take roughly three weeks after that to regain his full range of motion.

On Thursday, he sported his blue cast and a potpourri of bandages, towels and medical wraps that encased his arm from biceps to finger tips. He was hooked up to a portable device that sends microcurrents down his arm, making him look like a low-budget cyborg.

“It was rough at first because it hurt like hell,” he said, smiling, “I’m not going to lie.”

The injury also affords Beal a removed perspective he has rarely had in Washington. He gets to sit and watch the team’s young players mature and first-year coach Wes Unseld Jr. make the most of the 21 regular season games that remain. He will observe as the Wizards prepare for the NBA draft.

“Shep and Ted, we’re all good. We know what the summer is. That’s always been the straightforward communication between us,” Beal said. “I’m excited I get to see our team. . . . It’s a great position to be in. I’m not mad at all.”

If all goes according to plan for Washington in the next few weeks, Beal will also get to watch Kristaps Porzingis take the court for the first time. That the Wizards nabbed the 7-foot-3 former all-star at the trade deadline was a shock to a groggy Beal as he emerged from surgery, master plan aside — “I woke up and was like, ‘What the hell happened?’"

Playing with a supersized lineup that includes Porzingis and 6-9 Kyle Kuzma is tantalizing. Porzingis has not played since Jan. 29 because of a right knee bone bruise but participated in five-on-five drills Thursday despite primarily doing one-on-one work. Beal didn’t sound ruffled about the fact that the Wizards yet again have a vacancy at the point guard spot, with Raul Neto, Ish Smith and Tomas Satoransky serving as stopgaps.

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“That’s kind of what trades are for. That’s what free agency is for. That’s what this summer is for,” Beal said.

What does occupy Beal’s mind as he assesses his future is his legacy within the franchise and, by extension, the league as a whole. Since he can’t dribble a ball these days, the guard has been spending time in front of his computer, reading about the Wizards’ involvement in the slow revitalization of Ward 8, where the team’s practice facility sits.

Off-court elements, such as what a basketball team means to its community, matter to Beal.

“I really hope that we have a big part in influencing more people in Ward 8 to be able to get these jobs, to be able to live in these homes that are being built, these nice townhomes that are getting built over here,” he said.

But as always, that the Wizards can foster what Beal calls “a winning environment” on court takes top priority.

“As far as I’m concerned, I’m here,” Beal said. “It’s a big summer. I’m excited for it. Ted and Tommy are, too. It’s a big summer.”