- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 27, 2022

Amid rumors last week that the Miami Heat would be interested in trading for Bradley Beal this offseason, the Wizards star repeated his desire to remain in Washington for the future.

Appearing on Draymond Green’s podcast, Beal said that he wants to build a championship-caliber team in D.C. The comments were an elaboration of his nonchalant head nod earlier this month when Beal said it was “fair” to assumehe would sign a max contract with the Wizards if it’s offered this offseason. 

“I think people don’t understand that I want to do that here,” Beal said, referring to building a team in D.C. capable of winning a title. “And my mindset is like, OK, why can’t I do it here? There’s a lot of other teams that are out here doing it.” 

While super teams like those created by LeBron James or Kevin Durant have been successful, other squads in recent years have built their teams from the ground up — like the Milwaukee Bucks, Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies. Beal referenced those teams, especially the reigning NBA champion Bucks, in the 45-minute interview with Green, who is a star player on the Golden State Warriors and host of The Volume’s “The Draymond Green Show.”

“It’s possible for teams to do it and it’s possible to go on those runs, and not all those teams have two, three, four All-Stars,” Beal said. “They developed their guys. They’re putting the pieces together. So it’s a possibility and it’s, I mean, shoot me if you want, but that’s my mindset. Like, I have that mindset. I want to do it here.”

Beal, 28, is out for the remainder of the season with a wrist injury he sustained in late January. If he turns down his $36.4 million player option for the 2022-23 season, he would become a free agent. The Wizards can give him a max contract that is projected to be a five-year, $246 million deal, while other teams can offer about $180 million over four seasons. 

While Beal says now that he wants to remain in the District, that doesn’t mean it’s a foregone conclusion he will. The Wizards still have to offer him a max contract and turn down potential offers from other teams, while Beal has to ultimately decide to stay with the team.

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Heat would be a “legitimate suitor” for Beal if he is on the market. The 76ers were also reportedly putting together a deal to acquire Beal at the deadline in February until the shooting guard had season-ending surgery. 

“I’m not upset about the rumors. I’m not upset about teams wanting me,” Beal said. “I feel like that’s a good thing, right? We put in the work and we’re wanted by a lot of people, not just where we’re at.” 

He also discussed an aspect of the Wizards franchise that has frustrated fans for several years. The team often ends the season in NBA purgatory — not good enough to win in the playoffs but not bad enough to garner a top lottery pick. 

On Thursday, the Wizards clinched their fourth straight losing season. They’re out of the playoff hunt, but they’re also not close to having top-five odds at the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. 

“We’ve always been a team that has kind of been right in the middle of the pack, right in limbo,” Beal said. “We’re either a player away or a few possessions away from being a top-four seed or a bottom-eight seed. So that’s kind of always been our downfall.”

Last week, Beal appeared as a guest on NBC Sports Washington’s post-game show and laid out what the team needs to compete for a title: another star, bigger guards, better 3-point shooters and stout wing defenders. 

He told Green on the podcast that to remain in Washingtonhe has to see the team put in the work toward his “pursuit of winning.”

“That is my destination and goal,” Beal said. “The money is awesome. Granted, when we grew up playing, we played the game to make a lot of money. We played the game to take care of our family.

“But that also comes with, when you make that money, you want to win ball games. You want to be able to play for something, right? I want to play in meaningful games, right? I want to be playing in late June. That’s what I want.”

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

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