Why Bradley Beal could hold the fate of the NBA season in his hands

Having not signed his available contract extension, a potential trade request from Bradley Beal could shake up an already uneven championship landscape.

Like Paul George, Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis — among many others — before him, Bradley Beal is next in line to wield the power his stature as one of the best in the NBA has afforded him.

In an attempt to keep him local, the Washington Wizards have a three-year, $111 million extension placed on the table for their franchise two-guard. If signed on top of the two years remaining on his current deal, the extension would keep Beal in the Nation’s Capital for the next half-decade as he enters his prime years.

Beal has until Oct. 21 to make a decision regarding his future in Washington, but the extension has been waiting for his signature since the end of July. His inaction speaks louder than his words ever could, not that he needs any justification for a possible exit.

Despite shedding salary over the last year, the Wizards still find themselves a mess. They won just 32 games last season with a maxed-out floor general in the midst of rehabbing a torn Achilles.

Only 26 years of age, Beal is coming off a season in which he posted career-best marks in points, rebounds, assists and steals with numbers exceeded only by James Harden. It’s only right for the two-time All-Star to pursue greener pastures that would better utilize his talents for something greater than what would at best be an opening-round exit in Washington.

That the Larry O’Brien trophy is completely up for grabs is what makes Beal’s pending decision all the more important to the outcome of the coming season.

For Beal to let the deadline come and go would likely signal a desire to play elsewhere as soon as possible, opening his services up to a hoard of potential buyers that could further add to the NBA’s newfound unpredictability.

What would the ceiling be for the Miami Heat look with Beal paired alongside Jimmy Butler? Could the Denver Nuggets cash in on their influx of assets to give them the big-time perimeter scoring threat they need to take another step? Perhaps the Portland Trail Blazers experiment with a never before seen trio to further nudge themselves into the conversation out west.

Fractures within the Golden State Warriors have opened the championship playing field for the coming season and beyond. Teams that may have resided a notch below are now back in the mix for contention with plenty more who believe a single trade can swing the pendulum in their favor.

Beal has the type of shot-making abilities that could thrust a team on the cusp of contention into the title conversation. Across four playoff runs — all of which came before the age of 25 — he’s averaged 22.7 points on 36.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

With less than three weeks to make a decision, Beal claims a yearly salary of $37 million isn’t a factor. If that’s truly the case, Washington’s ineptitude should have already made the choice for him.

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Many before him have utilized their basketball gifts to steer their legacies in the desired direction Unfortunate circumstances have Beal next in line to do the same, and it’s when — not if — he chooses to follow suit that will thicken the plot of what is already shaping up to be a wildly uncertain 2019-20 campaign.

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