Bradley Beal signed a two-year extension worth nearly $72 million with Washington on Thursday, a major victory for the Wizards and a move that will keep the All-Star guard out of free agency for at least the next three summers.

Beal still had two years left on his existing contract. The extension kicks in for the 2021-22 season, has a player option for the following year and means that Beal won’t be part of what has been shaping up to be an NBA free-agent extravaganza in the summer of 2021.

“It’s a blessing, man – for one, that they even consider me a franchise player, a piece of this organization in itself,” Beal said at a news conference in Washington. “And I was prideful of that. You don’t get that type of love and respect and responsibility from anywhere.”

The Wizards were willing to give Beal a three-year extension that would have been worth about $111 million. Beal went the two-year route and that protects his future options – he could opt out of the deal in the summer of 2022, coinciding with his 10th year in the league. The 10-year milestone is significant: By having that many years of service, Beal would be eligible to sign a new deal worth in excess of $250 million over the next five seasons.

“You ask yourself a lot of questions during free agency: Why do people leave? Why do they go other places?” General Manager Tommy Sheppard said. “We’ve always retained our free agents. The ones we wanted to keep, we did. And this is a humongous opportunity right here with Bradley Beal. It speaks to the rest of the league that he believes in this place, and that’s huge.”

NBA-CHINA: Commissioner Adam Silver says the league’s business relationship with China remains fractured in the wake of the Daryl Morey controversy, but he added it won’t stop it from supporting “American values” when doing business with other countries.

Speaking in New York on Thursday, Silver said the NBA refused China’s demands to fire Morey after the Houston Rockets general manager sent out a since-deleted tweet supporting anti-Chinese government protesters in Hong Kong.

“We said there’s no chance that’s happening. There’s no chance we’ll even discipline him,” Silver said. “These American values – we are an American business – travel with us wherever we go. And one of those values is free expression. We wanted to make sure that everyone understood we were supporting free expression.”

That decision, however, is hitting the NBA’s bottom line. Silver said the fallout from Morey’s tweet and the NBA’s subsequent response has led to “substantial losses.”

“I don’t know where we go from here,” Silver said. “The financial consequences have been and may continue to be fairly dramatic.”

Morey’s tweet, sent on Oct. 6, set off a firestorm of reaction in the state-controlled Chinese media and altered promotional plans for a two-game series featuring the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets. Sponsor-related events for individual players were canceled, media access for reporters was cut off and there was even some doubt the games would be played. The games did go on as scheduled, but broadcasts were not aired in China.

PELICANS: Zion Williamson won’t play in the final preseason game because of a sore right knee. The Pelicans said Thursday that the No. 1 pick didn’t travel with the team to New York, remaining in New Orleans to undergo further testing and evaluation.

He was to have played Friday night against former Duke teammate RJ Barrett, the No. 3 pick, in a nationally televised game. Williamson has averaged 23.3 points on 71.4 percent shooting in four preseason games. The Pelicans said further updates will be provided when available.

CAVALIERS: Cleveland center Ante Zizic will miss approximately four weeks after an MRI revealed plantar fasciitis in his left foot, the team announced Thursday.

Zizic, 22, sat out all four preseason games with discomfort and soreness in the foot. He left practice on crutches Thursday and Coach John Beilein said Zizic needed additional tests. Last season, the 6-foot-11 big man from Croatia played in 59 games for the Cavs and started 25, averaging 7.8 points and 5.4 rebounds and shooting .553 from the field.

BULLS: Two-time All-Star forward Luol Deng has signed with Chicago and retired as a member of the team that drafted him.

The No. 7 overall pick in 2004, the 34-year-old Deng averaged 14.8 points and 6.1 rebounds over 15 seasons with Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, the Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota.

LAKERS: Los Angeles exercised its contract option on forward Kyle Kuzma for the 2020-21 season.

Kuzma, who is currently out with a foot injury suffered while playing for USA Basketball during the summer, was the 27th overall pick in the 2017 draft out of Utah. He has become a solid NBA scorer, putting up 18.7 points and 5.5 rebounds last season while starting 68 games for the Lakers.


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