WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington’s Bradley Beal understands the expectations that come with signing a five-year, $128 million contract.
The Wizards’ guard (Chaminade H.S., St. Louis) rattled off a list of responsibilities during a press conference on Wednesday, one day after officially re-signing with Washington.
“They made a commitment to me… making me a max player,” said Beal, flanked by Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, team president Ernie Grunfeld and coach Scott Brooks.
Those responsibilities include “being a leader of the team, being a great guy in the community. … and being a better teammate.”
The No. 3 overall draft pick out of Florida in 2012, Beal averaged 17.4 points in 55 games last season for the Wizards, who finished 41-41. He’s a career 40 percent 3-point shooter.
But Beal’s been hampered by injuries, including stress fractures in his right leg.
“I know … you guys are probably thinking, can a 23-year-old handle?” he said. “The answer is yes I can. I’m going to continue to prove it.”
That’s the hope of the organization after making the wing guard the highest-paid player on the team and the Wizards missed the playoffs last season.
“It’s a great day for the organization, for Bradley and his family,” Leonsis said. “As we’ve mentioned, to those who much is given, much is expected. Bradley has such maturity and handles pressure with such grace that we know he’ll be able to take this and have it motivate him. …We have big aspirations.”
Any postseason and title-contending goals start with Washington’s backcourt.
Point guard John Wall is a three-time All-Star. At times in his four-year career, Beal played at that level, including the 2015 postseason when the Wizards competed in the Eastern Conference semifinals for a stretch with Wall watching because of a broken hand.
Yet Beal’s injuries lead to questions about whether this duo can reach expectations.
Beal has never played more than 73 games in any season, missing 81 of a possible 328 over his four years. Several injuries occurred during that time, with the stress fractures in his leg the most constant pest.
“We have so much more information now than we had two or three years ago,” Grunfeld said. “We feel like we know what we need to do.”
Beal skipped a chance to play in the Olympic in part to ensure achieving his physical training and rehab with the Wizards.
“This is probably the best offseason I’ve had in terms of being committed to focusing on my body and my game, period,” he said.
Since his hiring by the Wizards in April, Brooks’ focus has been on how to help get the Wizards back into the playoffs. Re-signing Beal, whose jump shot Brooks described as “flawless,” will help with the planning.
“I just keep telling myself he’s 23,” said the former Oklahoma City coach. “He seems like he has that old soul about him. You understand why the players — not just on our team but around the league — respect him because he brings it every night.”
A comment from the owner highlighted the notion of Beal’s youth.
“Looks like Bradley grew a little bit this offseason,” Leonsis said.
“About an inch,” Beal responded.
Going forward, the Wizards are hoping Beal’s game grows as well.
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