Bradley Beal is leading the NBA in scoring, pouring in almost 35 points per game for the worst team in all of basketball. He's scored at least 40 points three times this season while losing. It feels as though the weight of the world is on his shoulders and carrying his side to victory is a Sisyphean task.
So rumors of his discontent are understandable. After all, who wouldn't want to ply their talents for a franchise competing for a championship or even a playoff push? Who wouldn't push either quietly or not-so-quietly for a trade and a lifeline out of town?
The answer apparently is Bradley Beal, who wants everyone to know that he hasn't asked to be unburdened. Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that the sweet-shooting guard prefers not to be traded and that the Wizards have no urge to part ways either.
Let's be 100 percent clear. Beal may feel deeply committed to making it work in Washington. I'm not questioning his sincerity. But if a superstar did, in fact, want out, there are worse ways to go about it than playing the public role of good soldier.
Not only is Beal, a perennial All-Star unlocking an even higher setting in his gameplay, improving his stock on the court, he's curating and maintaining an optimistic, non-controversial image to further his value in the eyes of other franchises.
Now, prickly relationships haven't exactly been deal-breakers in the NBA. See Harden, James. Yet there's something to be said about someone who is saying and doing all the right things in an obviously flawed environment. There's a lot to like about someone who can help you win basketball games and won't pitch a fit while not winning basketball games.
Beal is already in his ninth NBA season. He's only 27 and appears to be entering his prime. A prime that could ascend to higher highs that most anticipated. He's in the final year of a five-year contract and figures to be the hottest of free agents should he explore the market.
His asking price will be enormous. And there may be more upside in grinning and bearing it for 60 more games as opposed to breaking some china for immediate relief.