Wizards' Beal Extension Helps GM Tommy Sheppard Establish Plan
Wizards G Bradley Beal's two-year, $72M extension "carries significant symbolic weight and practical benefits" for GM Tommy Sheppard, who is "leading a new and unconventional front office through a rebuild," according to Ben Golliver of the WASHINGTON POST. In negotiating Beal's extension, Sheppard "couldn't sell 12 months of sunshine, a track record of winning or even one of the NBA's 20 most talented rosters." But in an offseason in which the team made "few moves of consequence, Sheppard got the organization's most important piece of business done when conventional wisdom strongly suggested that Beal would wait until next summer before committing." The Wizards "should spend much of this season under the national radar," which will be "good and healthy" for their young roster. Sheppard still has a "long list of complications" to handle, but those are "nothing compared to what life would have been like with Beal at the center of a trade feeding frenzy" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/18).
FIRST PIECE OF THE PUZZLE: THE ATHLETIC's David Aldridge writes this was the "first major challenge" for Monumental Sports & Entertainment Chair & CEO Ted Leonsis' "new front office structure." The Wizards "had to show Beal that they not only had a plan in place to quickly surround him with difference-making talent in the next couple of years, but that they could be trusted going forward." Aldridge: "Fairness dictates that the Wizards now get some runway to try to make their team better. Having Beal in tow for at least three more years allows for a safe takeoff" (THEATHLETIC.com, 10/18). ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski said Beal "believed in" Sheppard and Leonsis, and the "vision they have to reshape this roster around him" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 10/17). In DC, Chase Hughes wrote Sheppard and the Wizards' front office deserve a "good deal of credit." They "successfully convinced a star in his prime to do something very few of his peers would likely do if given the same choice" (NBCSPORTSWASHINGTON.com, 10/17). ESPN's Jorge Sedano said, "This team has been a reboot candidate for three seasons it feels like and they continue to trot out the same team." Sedano: "But Bradley Beal puts butts in the seats ... (and) if you're Ted Leonsis and company, you have to have somebody you can sell" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN, 10/17).