The Bradley Beal trade rumor mill has been in full swing over the last 24 hours.
Most pundits and fans believe his days in D.C. are now numbered, following that viral clip of him looking distraught on the Washington Wizards bench after another devastating loss to the Houston Rockets.
The 27-year-old does have quite the conundrum on his hands at the beginning of the 2020-21 campaign. On the flip side, he is playing the best basketball of his life, leading the NBA in scoring at 34.4 points per game while shooting 48.3 percent from the field and 35.4 from deep.
But those stats look like empty numbers somehow, considering the Wizards are at the bottom of the standings with a horrible 3-10 start. Washington, of course, has no obligations to move him before the deadline but must consider this idea to start their franchise rebuild early. His stock has been high for several years now and the Wizards won’t have a shortage of takers if they do make him available.
ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins has already suggested that the East-leading Philadelphia 76ers and the slumping Miami Heat should inquire for Beal’s services. Then, there’s even that scarily-crazy notion that the reigning NBA champions, Los Angeles Lakers, also has a shot at acquiring the two-time All-Star.
While Beal would definitely fit these teams to a tee, let’s have a look at three other Western Conference squads who could emerge as dark horse contenders for the Wizards’ superstar guard.
1. Denver Nuggets
The deal: Bradley Beal for Michael Porter Jr., Gary Harris, Bol Bol, and 2021 first-round pick or Beal for Jamal Murray and a first-rounder.
The Nuggets have reportedly been high on Porter Jr. since last year, so he will certainly be the centerpiece of this potential blockbuster. In his second NBA season, MPJ doubled his previous scoring-average to 18.4 points despite just getting 28.4 minutes per game.
He will give the Wizards a promising star to build around while allowing Porter to be his own man.
Harris, meanwhile, is the piece that will make the salaries match. Plus, he is also a terrific 3-and-D option who could take over Beal’s starting spot right away. Bol, on the other hand, could be the perfect guy to address the Wizards’ current center woes. That additional first-rounder also ensures Washington’s future.
If a deal like this is presented on the table, it would be wise for Washington to snag it right away since this might just be the best value they can get for their franchise star.
A Bradley Beal swap for Jamal Murray and a first-rounder can also do the trick salary-wise. Murray would certainly be the perfect replacement for Beal’s production, following his breakout year in the NBA bubble. However, Washington would likely want more assets in return for Beal. Plus, Denver also seeks to create a formidable Big 3 of their own with Murray, Beal, and Nikola Jokic.
2. Golden State Warriors
The deal: Beal for Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, Nico Mannion, and 2021 first-round pick (from Minnesota).
We’ve all witnessed how the Dubs front office has worked their magic over the years, so we shouldn’t be surprised if they can somehow pull this off.
The 6-foot-3 sharpshooter is indeed a walking bucket and would have no problems fitting in with the Dubs’ unselfish superstars. Beal is the most fitting replacement they could get for the injured Klay Thompson. A Bradley Beal–Stephen Curry backcourt would send shivers to opposing defenses each night. Imagine adding Thompson to the fold when he returns next season.
As much as Wiggins has endeared fans in The Bay for his terrific bounce-back season, he might not be worth keeping around in the long run, especially if it meant acquiring Beal.
Wiggins’ stock is at an all-time high right now. He will give the Wizards another reliable go-to scorer, while his massive improvement defensively is also quite alluring.
A Russell Westbrook–Wiggins tandem will certainly not cover Beal’s shooting, but it could give them one of the most athletic backcourts in the league.
Beal’s absence opens up a lot of minutes at the two-guard spot, allowing underutilized guys like Jordan Poole and Nico Mannion some opportunity to shine.
The clincher, of course, would be the guaranteed first-rounder next year, which the Dubs gained from the D’Angelo Russell deal.
3. New Orleans Pelicans
The deal: Beal for Lonzo Ball, JJ Redick, Josh Hart, a 2021 first-round pick, and a 2022 first-round pick
In hindsight, it seems Ball, Redick, and Hart are meager returns for a superstar of Beal’s caliber. However, if Washington would like to copy the Oklahoma City Thunder’s latest blueprint for stockpiling on future assets, this is the play to make. NOLA has already put their starting backcourt on the trade block in a bid to give their promising young core some much-needed help. A trio of Bradley Beal, Brandon Ingram, and Zion Williamson backed by enforcer Steven Adams does look like a formidable team even in the Wild Wild West. Plus, moving their three guards open up more minutes for Nickeil Alexander-Walker, who’s had his moments for the Pels this season.
For the Wizards, they could definitely use Redick’s shooting and veteran presence. Ball has been underwhelming so far but gives them insurance at point guard in the event that they also explore a separate deal for Westbrook. Hart has been a solid role player over the course of his career and could be an undervalued piece in this deal. The two future first-rounders, of course, make up for the lack of star power in this deal. If Lady Luck is on their side, the Wizards can have two young studs to build around for the next two years.