The Washington Wizards rebuild is imminent. With John Wall’s career in limbo after suffering an Achilles injury that required surgery, and the trading of Otto Porter, the Wizards are slim on talent. They missed the playoffs, and have not made moves this offseason that improve the team to the point in which they can contend for a playoff spot.
They are still holding onto star guard Bradley Beal. Expectations are that Beal is going to decline his player option for the 2020-2021 season and will subsequently ask out of Washinton. He could be the next star on the market, and plenty of teams will place calls to see if they can acquire the two-time all-star.
Here are three teams that have the biggest need for Beal and also have the assets to get a trade done.
It’s no secret the Pistons are trying to land another star to pair alongside Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. After limping into the playoffs last season as the eighth seed in the east, Detroit knows that with an improved conference, they will have to improve as well. And while yes, they made some nice moves in free agency with little cap room, they have to do more if they want to be viewed as a real competitor.
Beal moves the needle for them in that regard. With Griffin and Drummond upfront, Detroit needs a star in the backcourt. Reggie Jackson is a fine point guard, but we know what he is now, and he isn’t good enough to be the third-best player on a championship contender. Luke Kennard is an exciting young prospect, who shined for Detroit in their short-lived playoff appearance, but he doesn’t have star potential.
Beal is a star and the Pistons have recouped a fair amount of assets after their cabinet was emptied by their former man in charge, Stan Van Gundy. When it comes to pieces Detroit could use to acquire Beal, it starts with Kennard. But they have all their future first-round picks as well as Bruce Brown, Sekou Doumbouya, Svi Mykhailiuk, and Khyri Thomas who they can use as prospects to send back to Washington in some sort of combination.
They can match salary with the expiring contracts of Reggie Jackson and Langston Galloway. If the Wizards are smart they start their asking price with Kennard and Doumbouya as the main return for Beal, and settle for one of them alongside a Mykhailiuk and pair of first-round picks.
But Detroit has to be cautious as well. They shouldn’t sell the farm that they just restocked for a year of Bradley Beal. They need to know that he’ll re-sign with them for the long term, as should any team trading for him at a high cost of assets.
The Miami Heat are in a very similar spot compared to the Detroit Pistons. They need another star. Like Detroit, they were linked to Russell Westbrook. Like Detroit, they are a team that has been talked about as one of the first teams that would want to take their shot at adding Beal to their roster.
They were already able to snag their first star this offseason in Jimmy Butler, who is one of the top 15-20 players in the league. But they spent their best asset to get him when they shipped out Josh Richardson, a young and promising wing who plays both sides of the floor, to the Philadelphia 76ers. But Pat Riley is not interested in tanking, and he has gladly shown he will pay steep money to players who he thinks will contribute to winning. He’s also shown he will ship out young guys to improve their roster in the now.
To get a player like Bradley Beal, Miami would have to sell the remaining stock in their farm. Outside of Butler, the best players on Miami’s roster are their young players. Justise Winslow, Bam Adebayo, and Tyler Herro are currently set to have rather large roles on the Heat next year. Winslow and Adebayo would likely start, and Herro could be a key cog for their bench unit. But at least two of those players would have to go in order to get Beal back, if Washington knows what they are doing.
The sacrifice of assets make sense for Miami. When they decided to trade for Butler, they decided they were all in on putting the best team they possibly can on the floor. Beal and Butler is instantly one of the best duos in the conference, and Miami can hash out the rest of their roster from there. But they’ll have some work to do. They have a logjam of wings on the roster with or without Bradley Beal. Assuming they lose Bam, the most enticing prospect of the bunch, they’ll have to find another center, and may need a point guard if Dragic is shipped out to match salary. It won’t be easy for them to configure the roster this late into the game in free agency, but they’ll have to make do. Bradley Beal is worth it, especially for as desperate of a team as Miami.
The Nuggets were the two seed in a loaded Western Conference that just got deeper this offseason. It is going to be an uphill battle out west and Denver could certainly benefit from the addition of another star to give Nikola Jokic to work with. Their starting guards are Jamal Murray and Gary Harris, both nice players, but Beal would be a considerable upgrade on that front.
The Nuggets also make sense as an under the radar landing spot for Beal simply because they have so many young assets on the roster. Outside of Murray and Harris, they have Malik Beasley, Monte Morris, Juancho Hernangomez, Bol Bol, Michael Porter Jr., and Jarrett Vanderbilt. Denver also owns all of their first-round picks after next season, which was sent in their trade to acquire Jerami Grant from the OKC Thunder. That pick is only top-10 protected, so it will likely stay with Oklahoma City.
Star power reigns supreme in the playoffs, and Denver is going to need to add another star to be a serious powerhouse in the west.
Certainly, there will be many more suitors out there for Bradley Beal. However, these are the teams that need him the most and have already been linked to him. With it sounding more and more likely by the day that Beal’s future in Washington is coming to a close, get ready for the next great bidding war in the league that has no days off.