- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 3, 2022

When the Washington Wizards announced that Bradley Beal would miss the remainder of the season due to a wrist injury, fans wondered if the star had played his last game in the District. 

But in the 28-year-old’s first press conference since his season-ending left wrist surgery, Beal revealed that he may be staying in the nation’s capital after all.

Beal on Thursday was asked if it’s fair to say he is leaning toward re-signing with the Wizards. The guard took a moment, nodded and said: “That’s fair.”

It wasn’t the most emphatic answer ever, but it’s consistent with Beal’s comments in the past about wanting to build a championship-level team in D.C. instead of going somewhere else. 

Also, Beal has another compelling reason to remain in Washington. In fact, approximately 246 million reasons.

Assuming Beal declines his 2022-23 player option, the shooting guard will be eligible for a supermax extension, projected to be $246 million over five seasons. A max deal with another team would net him about $180 million over four years. 

However, Beal said he isn’t going to “rush.” 

“I can see the team, I can see our young guys develop. I can see coach continue to develop, too. I can see us grow as a team. I don’t have to rush to a decision, I don’t have to rush to anything,” said Beal, who was donning a large cast on his left arm.

It’s possible that trade-deadline acquisition Kristaps Porzingis is a piece Beal could see himself playing alongside next season. The injury-prone, 7-foot-3 big man is an intriguing player for the Wizards. A former young star with the Knicks, Porzingis had dealt with injuries in each of his three seasons with the Mavericks. 

Beal said he was “excited” about the team’s deadline moves, adding that he believes Porzingis “can be really exceptional for us.”

“Just imagine him and [center Daniel Gafford] out there. That’s going to be sick,” Beal said. “Then, you’ve got [Kyle Kuzma] at 6-9, 6-10. We’ve got great size. We’ve never had that.”

Porzingis, 26, has yet to make his Wizards debut due to a bone bruise, but coach Wes Unseld Jr. said Thursday that he’s getting close. Porzingis played in a five-on-five scrimmage at practice Thursday for the first time since the trade on Feb. 10. 

• Jacob Calvin Meyer can be reached at jmeyer@washingtontimes.com.

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