Bradley Beal signs five-year max contract with Wizards

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Earlier this month, Bradley Beal celebrated in the unveiling of a pair of basketball courts he helped pay to refurbish Washington’s Columbia Heights neighborhood. His logo adorned the blacktop as did a quote attributed to him, painted in white along one baseline.

“Cement your legacy,” it read.

Beal took his own advice just minutes after free agency opened Thursday night. The Washington Wizards announced that the 29-year-old guard agreed to a maximum contract that will pay him $251 million over five years and cement him as the cornerstone of the franchise that drafted him third overall in 2012. The deal will be made official July 6 when the league moratorium ends.

The contract will pay Beal roughly $43 million in 2022-23 and includes annual raises of $3.4 million. In the final year of the deal, the guard stands to make $57.1 million at age 33.

Beal’s signing signals his commitment to the franchise and his approval of President and General Manager Tommy Sheppard’s stewardship of the team. The guard has been clear for the past two years as questions about his future in Washington grew louder: He wants to win. Beal clearly believes in the Wizards enough to help them get there.

From the Wizards’ perspective, the deal reinforces their belief in the three-time all-star as a worthy face of the franchise and puts a bow on the long arc of a takeover that began when point guard John Wall had season-ending surgery in December 2018.

Wall was traded two years later, and team owner Ted Leonsis handed Beal the reins.

Since then, Beal has proved himself as one of the most talented scorers in the NBA. When operating at the peak of his powers in 2020-21, he became just the sixth player Since the NBA-ABA merger to average at least 30 points in back to back seasons (30.5 points per game in 2019-20 and 31.3 points in 2020-21), was voted an all-star starter for the first time and was named to an all-NBA team for the first time.

His ability to get to the basket no matter who was on the floor with him or standing in his way made Beal one of the most sought-after players in the league. His low-key personality, which made it easy to imagine him fitting in alongside any number of the NBA’s megawatt stars, made him even more desirable.

But Beal maintained he wanted to remain loyal to the team that drafted him, help Leonsis build a winning organization and give back to the only city he has ever played in as a pro.

“It’s love that I’ve received from day one,” Beal said at the court unveiling. “The city has accepted me since [I was] a rookie, and here I am going into year 11 and it’s the same love, if not more. I’ve always just tried to pay that back in one way or another, community outreach, and that’s something I’ll always take pride in. Because that’s something that has a more lasting impact than basketball.”

His scoring average dipped last season, falling to 23.3. He shot 30 percent from beyond the arc, a career low, and 45.1 percent from the field, his worst since 2015-16, before surgery on his left wrist ended his season in early February.

None of it mattered; Beal and the Wizards’ mutual commitment held strong. The guard always has the option of demanding a trade in the future, and the front office has proved adept at dealing its way out of seemingly immovable contracts.

The Wizards spent Thursday evening securing more depth at guard and bringing back a locker-room favorite.

Washington signed 30-year-old free agent Delon Wright to a two-year deal worth $16 million, according to a person with knowledge of the transaction. The deal places yet another veteran around Beal after the team traded for Denver’s Monte Morris and Will Barton on Wednesday.

Wright can play both point guard and shooting guard and, at 6-foot-5, brings size that Washington’s coaching staff values. He played in 77 games for Atlanta last season, his sixth team since 2017.

Forward Anthony Gill is also returning to the Wizards on a two-year deal, according to a person with knowledge of the contract. Gill, whose work ethic and tireless support of his teammates have been lauded by Coach Wes Unseld Jr., averaged 4.1 points and 1.9 rebounds in 44 games off the bench last season. ESPN first reported both deals.

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