After Beal opted out of signing his player-option, the three-time All-Star emphatically answered that question when he signed a five-year extension, a deal that includes the 10th ever no-trade clause, to play for the Wizards until 2027. Beal signed the max contract following a season cut short due to wrist surgery, where he averaged 23.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per game on 45.1 percent shooting from the field.
Beal’s signing marked an interesting debate on NBA Twitter. For many, loyalty to where you first played and winning a title with them make a player legendary. However, by today’s player-empowerment standards, players are expected to be willing to leave and team up to create the best scenario to win a title.
“I feel like if I win a championship here in D.C., the grind of it, with everything I’ve been through, all the adversity and ups & downs, that would make a win that much sweeter, make me appreciate it that much more. I do love the grind.” Beal said per Haute Living Magazine.
Players like Beal, Damian Lillard, or four-time champ Stephen Curry who remain loyal to their first teams, are uncommon. Beal is here to say that none of that outside noise matters, and his goal remains the same. To lead the Wizards to their first championship run since winning it all in 1978.
“People always look at me like I’m crazy, but I have a huge desire to want to make it work here and win here. This is the team that drafted me. They’re super loyal; I have a great relationship with ownership and a great relationship with our front office.”
The deal makes Beal not only the face of the franchise for the long haul but also the leader of a team filled with new faces after the Wizards signed Taj Gibson and Delon Wright and drafted Johnny Davis 10th overall in the 2022 NBA Draft.
Heading into 2022-23, the Wizards will look to return to the playoffs led by a potentially dangerous 1-2 punch headlined by Beal and Kristaps Porzingis as the anchor in the paint. The Wizards last made the playoffs in 2021, led by Beal and Russell Westbrook.
“Plus, there’s not a lot of chances in the careers of NBA players to be notated as the franchise guy, you know? To be able to have that opportunity, to be able to be in a position to where I can write my own story, that’s everything.”
By the time Beal suffered a season-ending wrist injury in February, the season was washed. Beal and the Wizards started the season hot, owned the top record in the East for a moment, and had a top 5 defense. That sweet moment was short-lived, though. The team went through a cold December, losing three games in a row twice. They lost six straight in January as well. The Wizards finished the season 35-47, good for 12th in the East.
The key is to figure out how to make that early-season success consistent. A tall task that Beal and Coach Wes Unseld Jr. will have to figure out.