Bradley Beal acknowledged to The Athletic over the weekend that he made a decision regarding his future with the Washington Wizards.
Beal was unwilling to reveal that decision, though, so the Wizards star seemingly was a bit confused Tuesday night when HoopsHype reported, citing a league source, he will decline his $36.4 million player option with Washington and become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
“Wait huh? Lol,” Beal tweeted shortly after the report surfaced.
Of course, it’s entirely possible Beal was referring to something else. After all, it’s a rather vague tweet. But the timing suggests it probably was in response to the HoopsHype report, which wasn’t shocking, by any means, but nevertheless flies in the face of Beal not wanting to announce his decision just yet.
Beal, who told The Athletic it’d be improper to discuss any potential future contract while still fulfilling his current deal, probably will decline his option when push comes to shove. Not necessarily because he wants to leave Washington — Beal has expressed a desire to remain with the Wizards — but because it’ll allow him to maximize his earning potential.
If he opts out, Beal will be eligible to sign a five-year max contract with Washington worth nearly $250 million. The most lucrative contract he could sign with any other team in free agency, per league rules, would be a four-year deal worth about $184 million.
All told, there’s no guarantee Beal will wear a Wizards uniform to begin the 2022-23 NBA season, as he’s been the subject of trade rumors for a while with Washington struggling to build a contending roster around him. It’s hard to imagine him opting out of his current contract and signing with another team outright, though, given the money he’d be leaving on the table.
The more likely scenario, it seems, would be a sign-and-trade, with the Boston Celtics among the possible suitors kicked around in internet speculation despite just falling two wins short of an NBA championship.
Whatever the case, all Beal could do Tuesday night was shrug as social media started buzzing.