Gators in NBA: Wizards, Beal agree on 2-year, $72 million extension

Washington guard Bradley Beal (3) drives around New York Knicks forward RJ Barrett during the first half of a preseason game in New York last Friday. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The agreement was confirmed Thursday by Beal’s agent, Mark Bartelstein. ESPN first reported the details of the extension.

Beal (University of Florida) still had two years left on his existing contract. The extension kicks in for the 2021-22 season, has a player option for the following year and means that Beal won’t be part of what has been shaping up to be an NBA free-agent extravaganza in the summer of 2021.

The Wizards were willing to give Beal a three-year extension that would have been worth about $111 million over three years. Beal went the two-year route and that protects his future options — he could opt out of the deal in the summer of 2022, coinciding with his 10th year in the league.

The 10-year milestone is significant: By having that many years of service, Beal would be eligible to sign a new deal worth in excess of $250 million over the next five seasons.

Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard told a story as the team was getting ready to begin training camp of what he says to young players he meets for the first time: Work as hard as Beal.

“It sounds easy,” Sheppard said. “Then you come in and you see all the work that Bradley puts in every day, all the leadership he exudes every day. He’s shown time and time again how committed he is to D.C.”

Beal has played more minutes than any other NBA player in the last two regular seasons, is one of only five players to not miss a game in that span — and is the lone player to have started all 82 games in both of those seasons.

He’s an elite scorer, 12th in the league last season at a career-best 25.6 points per game. And he will be the centerpiece again for a Wizards team that’s without point guard John Wall for the entire season as he recovers from an Achilles injury.

Sheppard said Beal is poised for yet another big year, and that the way he was interacting with teammates in recent weeks didn’t give him any reason to believe he wasn’t committed to the team.

“He’s ready to play this season,” Sheppard said at his preseason availability last month. “He’s a fantastic, fantastic person. He makes the whole team be better.”