Bradley Beal is obviously to be commended for his patience, his loyalty, his character, and even his stubbornness. His stubbornness — in a noble way — is how we’ve arrived here, to begin with. But it’s also keeping him from winning in the immediate future.
Beal hasn’t thrown a tantrum to force a trade to a contender, nor has he even voiced any intention to move on. Even today, Yahoo reports that Beal wants to see his time in Washington through, despite their 6-16 record, and an unclear path to eventual contendership even in a wide-open Eastern Conference.
“He doesn’t want to quit on something,” Beal’s agent, Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports & Entertainment, told Yahoo in a story that ran this morning. “He’s an incredibly loyal guy, and he wants to always feel like he’s done everything he can to help something or someone be successful. It’s the way he was raised and what his values are based upon. It’s ingrained in him. It’s what makes him, in my mind, so unique. He’s all about the right things.”
Bartelstein later added that Beal seemingly has the character traits that liken him to what we envision as an NBA throwback. One who remains loyal to the team that drafted him, and one who literally values trusting the process over seeking an immediate exit.
“It’s the team that drafted him, the team that’s invested in him, and he desperately wants to make them a championship contender,” Bartelstein added to Yahoo. “He wants to make it happen. That’s the way he is. He’s not looking for the easy way out. He challenges himself. The evolution of his game speaks volumes about how committed he is and how hard he works.”
As written about just last week, all that matters is what Beal and the Wizards want. It would probably be more sensible if they two parted ways so Beal, 27, could compete in his prime and so that the Wizards could commit to a proper rebuild, adding picks and young players to their roster. The issue is that Wizards history hasn’t produced a true Eastern Conference contender since 1979, which was the last time they won at least 50 games. And while championships aren’t the only true barometer for competitive basketball, the Wizards themselves haven’t gotten past the conference semifinals since that same season 42 years ago.
Just getting back to the conference semifinals would be enough to avoid this conversation entirely, but it doesn’t appear that Washington is anywhere close to that because four among the Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, and Toronto Raptors will likely find themselves in the semifinals for the next two seasons.
So Beal and the Wizards could see their partnership through, but history would suggest that minimal serious winning would follow. Beal doesn’t believe that, though, nor should he. He’s the one who’s become an All-NBA worthy 32.8 points per game scoring savant to begin with. But if he’ll ever return to competitive basketball in Washington — akin to what they were during semifinal appearances between 2014 and 2017 — that would mean the organization would have to offer him some legitimate assistance. That was a great run for Washington, who lasted until games six or seven in each of those three series. But Beal and the Wizards are even far removed from that for the foreseeable future.
The team hasn’t been a free agent destination, and with Russell Westbrook’s massive contract, the creativity of improving via trade is limited, though not impossible. But honestly, if this is what Beal and the Wizards want, we could just leave it alone and allow for the opportunity to turn this around in a possible miracle fashion. Just know that it isn’t likely to happen.