Bradley Beal Rumors: Wizards 'Pretty Confident' Star Will Return Amid Trade Buzz

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJune 21, 2022

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 19: Bradley Beal #3 of the Washington Wizards  celebrates after a play against the Brooklyn Nets during the second half at Capital One Arena on January 19, 2022 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
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The Washington Wizards remain "pretty confident" they can retain Bradley Beal this offseason, according to ESPN's Zach Lowe.

Lowe was discussing the possible landscape for Kyrie Irving should he leave the Brooklyn Nets and discussed the merits of Washington. Lowe described the Wizards as a "really interesting wild card" assuming Beal is back. (The discussion begins at the 1:09:22 mark).

Beal has a $36.4 million player option for the 2022-23 season, which he is likely to decline. He's eligible to sign a five-year deal worth up to a projected $247.7 million.

Although the three-time All-Star soon can become an unrestricted free agent, the Wizards didn't trade him last offseason or ahead of the 2022 trade deadline. That indicated Washington's desire to re-sign him and arguably a belief from the front office that it could get a deal done.

"With the way that the NBA calendar is set up, we can't do anything earlier than July 1," general manager Tommy Sheppard said in April. "I can just go off of 10 years of a relationship with him. I think he feels comfortable here, we certainly feel comfortable with him here. It's a good fit."

In May, the Washington Post's Ava Wallace reported Beal was "still leaning toward signing a multiyear deal with Washington worth roughly $250 million in July."

The Wizards missed the play-in tournament in 2021-22 after finishing 35-47. Beal missed 42 games in total, including the Wizards' final 33 games of the season.

Washington still figures to be behind the Eastern Conference elite even if it brings Beal back. Sheppard will have a lot of work ahead to strengthen the supporting cast.

For Beal, re-signing with the Wizards may nonetheless be his smartest play since they can offer him more money than any other team. That has to figure into the equation somewhat given his injury history—he has played 60-plus games only once in the last three years.

If things aren't working out within the first year or two of his new contract, then the 6'4" guard can follow the lead of Paul George, who requested a trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder one summer after re-signing with them.