Why would the Wizards agree to Bradley Beal’s no-trade clause?

LAS VEGAS — As the NBA’s current period of free agency neared, the Washington Wizards appeared to have a significant impact on their Bradley Beal re-signing negotiations. Only the Wizards could offer Beal a five-year contract worth up to $251 million. League rules restricted all other teams to offering no more than a four-year, $186 million contract, even on a sign-and-trade deal.

Little did we know the leverage belonged to Beal, not the team.

The Wizards officially signed the three-time All-Star to a maximum pay contract on Wednesday afternoon, and when the new contract was posted to the league’s internal database, a surprising detail surfaced: The contract includes a no-trade clause, a provision unmatched by any other active one NBA player has.

On the one hand, Beal and the Wizards can use the new deal as a testament to Beal’s loyalty to the franchise that propelled him third overall in 2012 and his affection for the Washington area. In fact, that of the team Twitter account announced Beal’s return with the words “leaving a legacy” and “dedicated to the DMV”. Just because Beal is set to make a quarter billion dollars over the next half decade doesn’t diminish his loyalty to the Wizards or his love for the area. He can take the bag and also take care of his adopted country. Both can be true at the same time.

On the other hand, due to his no-trade clause, there can be no doubt that Beal now controls the franchise in regards to everything concerning its future, which after all is the central issue facing the team. If one day he finds he wants a trade, he will have considerable power to determine the target. Let’s say he eventually demands to be relocated – not a fancy hypothesis – and Team A offers the wizards a far better trade package than Team B; It is now codified that Beal can block a trade with Team A if that is not his preferred target, to the caster’s detriment.

How the negotiations for Beal’s new contract went remains unclear. It is reasonable to assume that the no-trade clause motion came from Beal and his agent. If that is the case, Beal should not be held responsible for requesting and receiving a no-trade clause. What professional wouldn’t want veto power over where he or she works?

It’s interesting why the Wizards, who were the only team able to offer a fifth season — at a salary of $57 million if he won’t be less than 33 years old — agreed to take on the destiny.

Ted Leonsis clearly wanted to keep Beal. Leonsis has compared his relationship with Beal to his relationship with Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin, a player the Capitals drafted in 2004 and have kept for 17 seasons. But while Ovechkin has won three Hart Trophies as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player, which has guided the Capitals to a Stanley Cup championship and is nearing the league’s career record, Beal has fielded just one All-NBA team in his 10 seasons.

Wizards President and General Manager Tommy Sheppard said that re-signing Beal to a maximum contract of over $45 million per season would be “the cost of doing business” to keep a franchise cornerstone, and this statement is true. Since free agency began, other teams have agreed up to five-year deals or extensions with the likes of Zach LaVine, Darius Garland, Nikola Jokić and Zion Williamson.

But what makes Beal’s new deal unique is the no-trade clause. ESPN’s Bobby Marks, who first reported the provision in the contractnoticed that only nine other players in league history had no trade clauses: Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, David Robinson, John Stockton and Dwyane Wade.

One reason no-trade clauses are so rare is a rule in the union contract that says a player must have played at least eight seasons in the NBA and at least four seasons for the team they’re signing with.

Still, the fact that the team gave Beal a no-trade clause shows how much team officials value – and most likely over-value – him.

It also seems to reflect how desperate Leonsis was to re-sign Beal. As late as 2019, Leonsis famously promised, “We will never, ever tank.” If the Wizards had lost Beal by free hands or in a sign-and-trade, the team wouldn’t necessarily have tanked. But Beal’s departure would almost certainly have resulted in a rebuild, and rebuilds are risky, especially after the league reformed its draft lottery in 2019, reducing the odds for the worst and second-worst teams. If the wizards lose Beal or trade him, it could be years before the team recruits or recruits someone of his level. As Beal himself noted on the Draymond Green podcast, the franchise had trouble attracting free agents from other teams.

In many ways, the Wizards entered free reign in a no-win situation. If Beal had gone elsewhere, many of the team’s fans and critics would have torn the organization over their inability to keep him, especially given the team’s financial advantage. But there’s also a vocal group of fans who wanted Washington to move on and start fresh. The idea of ​​allocating such a large percentage of the team’s cap number to a player who would most likely not be the best player or second best player on a championship team doesn’t sit well with these fans.

What seems safer now is that more than ever, the wizards are bound to a plan that doesn’t involve a full rebuild. Internal improvements and incremental advances through smart moves, such as trading to acquire Denver’s Monte Morris and Will Barton for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith, are Washington’s intended means of building a contender.

(Photo by Bradley Beal and Damian Jones: Kyle Terada / USA Today)

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