Long-Rumored Celtics Trade Target Says He’s Made Final Decision on Future

Jayson Tatum (left) of the Boston Celtics, and longtime friend Bradley Beal.

Getty Jayson Tatum (left) of the Boston Celtics, and longtime friend Bradley Beal.

Just about every team in the NBA will be interested to know, Bradley Beal has made up his mind. We don’t quite know yet, though, just what Beal will be doing next with his career. We can guess, though, how much interest the Celtics have here.

Assuming he opts out of the final year of his contract, Beal will be a free agent this summer. He can re-sign with the Wizards for what will be a record deal worth about $250 million over five years if he so chooses, and there are expectations that he will stick around in Washington. Because NBA rules favor a free agent’s current team, leaving the Wizards would mean Beal making $184 million over four years.

But those expectations are not set in stone. Beal also turns 29 next week and this contract will be the last that comes in his prime years. He has hinted that he wants to win, and that hasn’t happened much for a franchise that has gone 126-182, with one short-lived playoff appearance, in its last four seasons.

Josh Robbins of The Athletic reported this weekend that, “Beal said he has made up his mind about his playing future but declined to disclose his decision, saying it would be improper to discuss any potential future contract while he’s still fulfilling his current contract.”

Beal has been repeatedly tied to the Celtics because of his close friendship with fellow St. Louisan Jayson Tatum, as well as the fact that Boston does have the assets to send back to Washington if they wanted Beal. If Beal had the chance to play alongside Tatum, it’s almost certain he would. The Celtics’ trip to the Finals, though, almost certainly means they’ll move forward with their current core and decline to make an offer on Beal.

Beal Says ‘A Lot’ of Teams Have Recruited Him

Beal spoke to the media this weekend during an event to celebrate the ribbon-cutting at the new Benjamin Banneker basketball courts in the Columbia Heights neighborhood in Washington D.C. He was asked if any teams had been recruiting him ahead of his free agency, and Beal responded slyly, “A lot. You know I can’t give you names.”

But it is doubtful the Celtics were among those teams, because Boston has no available cap space and wouldn’t be able to create nearly enough to pull off a straight free-agent signing for Beal. A sing-and-trade would be difficult, but possible. The Wizards would certainly ask for Jaylen Brown as part of the return package, but the Celtics could even make an attractive offer even without Brown, by including Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, Aaron Nesmith and Daniel Theis, with, perhaps, a draft pick to sweeten the deal.

Even that, though, is too much to give up for Beal, who has missed 69 games in his last three seasons with injuries. Beal did not play this season after January 29, when he injured his wrist and required surgery. He averaged 23.1 points per game this year before the injury, a massive and worrying drop of 8.1 points.

Celtics Sticking With Their Core?

Around the league, the Celtics just are not mentioned much with Beal anymore.

“After all that team went through this past year, they are not going to go into the offseason and blow up the whole thing for Bradley Beal,” one Eastern Conference exec told Heavy.com. “There was a time when maybe they would have done that, but not now. They will be trying to fill in around the edges, that is the big thing for them. Add to that bench.”

The Heat are among the teams that have been consistently linked to Beal, as well as the Knicks, Sixers and Raptors.  The Lakers have also been mentioned, but they would need a team to take eon Russell Westbrook’s contract to make that happen, and that’s a longshot.

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