In the 2020-2021 season, the Washington Wizards were led by the likes of Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook — finishing third in the South East Division with a regular season record of 34-38. In last season’s COVID-shortened regular season the Washington Wizards got off to an abysmal start after seven players tested positive for the virus in January.
Behind the leadership of Bradley Beal’s efficient 31.3 points per game and Russell Westbrook’s triple-double average, the Wizards made an improbable push toward the NBA Playoffs winning 17 out of their final 23 games.
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After beating Lamelo Ball and the Charlotte Hornets in the Play-in Game, the Washington Wizards would eventually be bested by the likes of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons four games to one.
After building a rapport on and off the court with shooting-guard Bradley Beal, Russell Westbrook angled for a change of scenery.
According to The Athletic’s Bill Oram, Shams Charania and Sam Amick,
“Before Westbrook resorted to calling Leonsis, he had tried to convince Beal in the weeks leading up to the draft that they should both ask out of Washington, according to sources. Short of Beal showing a desire to also request a trade, Westbrook was hopeful Beal would at least support his efforts to get to L.A. — which, sources said, Beal did.”
After Beal’s refusal to leave Washington, Russell Westbrook was rerouted back to his hometown Los Angeles Lakers for a package of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, and the No. 22 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.
As for Beal and the Washington Wizards, the deal bolsters their roster with proven veteran players who have prior championship experience.
By staying committed to Washington, Beal is closing in on capturing a long-term deal byexercising his Bird rights — which is an exception that allows the team to exceed the (salary) cap to retain its own free agent.
The most Washington can offer Beal on a new extension this summer is $181.5 million over four years.
Should Bradley Beal play out the 2021-22 season and decline his $37.26 million option for 2022-23, he would be eligible for a much larger payday from the Wizards. That could come in at a projected $235 million over five years. That’s a difference in about $53.5 million more in guaranteed money.
With Bradley Beal entering his prime at age 27, he should be focused on maximizing his earning potential with at least two more major contracts left in his NBA career. Beal has also built a genuine connection with both the organization and the Washington D.C. community.
The Wizards open their regular season Wednesday October 20, 2021 against the Pascal Siakam and the Toronto Raptors.
The Lakers open their regular season Oct 19, 2021 against Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors.