Bradley Beal is ready to lead the Washington Wizards

Washington Wizards Bradley Beal (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Bradley Beal (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images) /

There are no more questions about who is the face of this Washington Wizards franchise. It is Bradley Beal, and it’s his time to lead.

It’s a great time to be a DC sports fan. The Washington Mystics are fresh off their first-ever WNBA championship in franchise history. The Washington Nationals are going to their first-ever World Series in franchise history. The Washington Capitals look like an NHL contender once again. And the Washington Wizards just signed Bradley Beal to a contract extension.

Thursday morning, the NBA’s favorite hypothetical – ‘Where will the Wizards trade Bradley Beal?’ – died. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was first to break the news. Bradley Beal is staying in DC. The All-Star shooting guard signed a two-year, $72 million contract extension, keeping him with the Wizards through 2022. Beal has a player option for the 2022-23 season.

Wizards fans can now breathe a sigh of relief. Bradley Beal isn’t going anywhere. At least not now. Under the current CBA, NBA players cannot be traded for six months after signing a contract extension. Six months from today is April 17, well past the NBA trade deadline for this season.

However, even though fans can stop stressing, the work is just beginning for Bradley Beal. And he knows it.

How Beal was Won

The Wizards had previously offered Beal a three-year/$111 million extension back in July. Beal made it clear he was in no rush to sign. However, it wasn’t the dollar amount that was hanging him up, at least not in his own words. It was the direction of the team.

It’s obvious that this Wizards team, as currently constructed, isn’t making a deep playoff run. But for Beal, the present was not as important as the future when signing away the prime of his career. To make a decision one way or another, Beal needed to see some promise from Tommy Sheppard and the new regime in Washington. It certainly seems like they’ve done enough, but it’s an uphill climb from here.

Beal knows what he’s in for, judging by what his agent told Candace Buckner of the Washington Post, but that didn’t deter him from DC.

"“This is where he wants to be. He’s made it clear,” Beal’s agent Mark Bartelstein said Thursday morning. “He knows a lot of people are talking about sort of the downturn that the Washington Wizards may go through as they restructure and regroup here but he wants to kind of choose his own path and not necessarily jump on someone else’s bandwagon but to be the reason Washington becomes a destination.”"

Beal wants this team to be his team. And right now, it is. But right now, it’s also not a very good team. Beal was impressed by the moves this summer, but those moves have left Beal with precious few veterans around him. This team is young, and there’s no question about who the leader is. It’s Bradley Beal.

Life Without Wall

Now in his 8th NBA season, Beal is no stranger to the league. Despite sharing the backcourt with another All-Star, Beal is no stranger to standing solo in the spotlight, either. This will be the third straight season in which Beal plays at least half the season without John Wall. In each of the last two seasons, Beal has played all 82 games. Wall, on the other hand, has played in just 73 games combined.

Wall’s absences have allowed Beal to step into a leadership role he otherwise wouldn’t have. It’s allowed him to expand his game as a scorer and as a playmaker to a degree that he never could have with Wall by his side. In the last two seasons, Beal has been thrust into those roles unexpectedly, forced to keep the tires on a car that’s already falling apart. Regardless, he’s managed quite well. This season, though, the Wizards have a full training camp to plan for Beal as their number one option. That’s something they’ve never had before.

Wall’s injuries have been unfortunate and devastating. Beal’s increased skillset, however, should be a killer next to Wall once he returns.

This is Beal’s Team

More than ever, Bradley Beal is the face of the Washington Wizards franchise. This contract extension proves it. By the time John Wall comes back to the court for the Wizards, it will be most of the roster’s first time playing with him. Again, this is Bradley Beal’s team.

In an era of star players constantly jumping ship to join the latest and greatest juggernaut, Bradley Beal is a welcome and loyal outlier. He says all the right things off the court and does all the right things on it. Instead of bolting for a contender while Wall rehabs and Sheppard rebuilds, Beal doubled-down and stepped up.

Next. Final Washington Wizards Roster Starting to Take Shape. dark

The Wizards still have a long way to go. How they’ll get there is still unclear, but the goal is clear, and Bradley Beal wants to be the one to lead them there. I, for one, can’t wait.