- The Washington Times - Monday, November 2, 2015

The Washington Wizards and Bradley Beal will have to wait until next summer to reach a new contract.

The deadline to work out an extension with Beal, who just began his fourth season in the league, is expected to pass on at 11:59 p.m. on Monday without an agreement. That was expected and serves both sides well.

Beal, 22, will become a restricted free agent in July when his rookie-scale contract expires. Waiting allows him to sign a new contract for five years, not just four, and at a higher total than he would be able to now. Beal is not able to sign a five-year deal now because teams can only sign one player on a rookie-scale deal to a five-year extension. The Wizards signed John Wall to a five-year, $80 million extension in 2013.

The salary cap is expected to increase significantly next summer, with projections have it rising around $18 million because of a new television deal. Beal will be among the beneficiaries.

Waiting also allows the Wizards maximum salary cap flexibility. Beal’s salary cap hit will be significantly lower next summer, when the Wizards are expected to be among the major suitors for Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant and have six players coming off the books.

“It’s business at the end of the day,” Beal said. “We couldn’t reach an agreement, but it’s not going to stop me from being the player I am. It’s not going to stop me from continuing to work hard or it doesn’t mean I’m not going to be part of the organization.

“I just control what I can control, letting [general manager] Ernie Grunfeld and my agent deal with it. They’re going to continue next summer. Right now, it’s kind of a weight lifted off my shoulders. All I have to do is go out and worry about playing.”

Beal was reportedly offered an extension earlier in the offseason, though he said last month he was not. He was asked Monday if it is hard to turn down an offer of life-changing money.

“Always, always,” Beal said. “But, it comes to the point where if you’re confident in yourself and you believe in yourself, things are going to to fall into place for you. I’m just going to play out my year and see how I do. If I get it, I get it, and if I don’t, I don’t. At least I can sit here and say I did my best throughout the year, and I get what I deserve.”

Beal has dealt with multiple injuries to his lower right leg and shown he is taking steps toward being one of the league’s better players since being drafted third overall in 2012. Considering his injury history, Beal has played 56, 73 and 63 games, respectively, in his three seasons, not taking an offered extension is a bit of a risk.

Beal feels he is worthy of a maximum deal, so he is playing the year out with the expectation a maximum contract will be offered. He also hopes to be in Washington long-term.

“Either way it goes, they can match any offer,” Beal said. “Hopefully, I’ll be here. That’s my goal right now. I love being in D.C. I’m a cornerstone to this team. I want to be a part of this for a long time. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t get a deal done, but there’s no hard feelings, there’s no beef between Ernie and I or the organization. We’re still good, and I’m still worried about winning, and we’re going to win. That’s my main goal.”

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