The Washington Wizards are off to a nightmarish start to the season at 5-11, and in all likelihood, the road will only get tougher for them in the Eastern Conference with a number of teams far superior to the Wizards. Washington has been a team with lofty expectations in the last few years, but they haven’t been able to put it all together in the postseason.
This season, it’s uncertain (at best, really), if they’ll even make the Eastern Conference Playoffs, and now, they are reportedly willing to be involved in trade discussions with regards to “every player on their roster,” even stars John Wall and Bradley Beal, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Beal may be the most attractive trade piece the Washington Wizards have, as he’s developed into one of the more versatile scoring two guards in the NBA. Currently, Beal is averaging 21.5 points per game on a 56.5 percent true shooting clip; he’s always been a very good shooter off the catch from the perimeter, as his career three-point percentage is 39.0 percent on 5.5 attempts per game.
This season, Beal is only hitting 33.9 percent of his triples, but he’s been a better player than the rest of the Wizards’ key contributors, and would provide a terrific scoring option as both an on and off ball player for a number of teams in the NBA. Here’s five teams that could be interested in Beal’s services.
5. Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers are starting to figure things out, but they still could use more consistency from three-point range. Los Angeles currently ranks a solid 11th in the NBA in three-point percentage at 36.1 percent, but they are 15th in three-pointers made per game (10.9). To easily balance out the constant playmaking threat that LeBron James and Lonzo Ball pose for L.A., they could use the dead-eye shooting of Beal to open up the interior even more. JaVale McGee (13.4 points per game on 62.3 percent shooting) has been feasting at the rim already in both halfcourt situations as a roller and after leakouts in transition.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram have not nearly lived up to expectations in regards to efficiency with James on the roster, though. They have three-point percentages of 33.3, 29.6 and 30.4 percent, per NBA.com, which is underwhelming. That’s a key reason why the Lakers are middling in spot-up scoring situations, and last in off-screen scoring efficiency, per Synergy Sports Technology.
Beal would a tremendous scoring option in that off-ball standpoint, and would likely feast after cutting off screens set by McGee and Tyson Chandler, in addition to a solid guard screener in Ball. Anthony Riccobono of the International Business Times also highlighted how Beal’s contract is something L.A. can definitely afford.
“While the top NBA players will make over $40 million per season in the coming years, Beal has an average salary of $27 million through the 2020-2021 season.”
This led to (h/t Riccobono) the Caldwell-Pope (KCP in this case) and Ingram flip suggestion, which would make perfect sense. Ingram and KCP have been in large part hit-or-miss for L.A., and would give James his much-desired second star.
4. Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers recently acquired Jimmy Butler to pair with stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, and Butler’s already paid dividends in key moments. After getting out of a reportedly rough situation with the Minnesota Timberwolves, his 20.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game are a welcome addition to Philly, who was in dire need of a closer to finish out games in their closing stretches.
That being said, the Sixers still could use another perimeter shooter to free up J.J. Redick, Beal could do so, but also could provide go-to scoring in crunch time when teams key in on Butler and Embiid, and force Simmons to score more so than facilitate. Losing Dario Saric and Robert Covington, two key two-way players in the Butler deal also creates a further need for perimeter shooting.
A possible trade piece could be Markelle Fultz, who is still very young, but who’s damaged jump shot (and even free throw) has made his future outlook really uncertain. On a positive note, though, he is a more than capable driver and his 6-10 wingspan is appealing going forward defensively.
Paul Hudrick of NBCPhiladelphia.com suggested that if Philly “were to send Markelle Fultz and Wilson Chandler to the Wizards for Beal….that deal would work financially.”
While Chandler hasn’t had much of a role on Philly thus far (though he’s been efficient with a three-point clip of 38.5 percent), his contract is expiring as it’s just a one-year deal worth over $12.8 million, per Spotrac.
The Sixers are likely going to shell out a ton of money to Butler next summer, and could potentially to Simmons (who’s eligible for a rookie scale max extension, as Hudrick stated), going into the luxury tax is a relative no-brainer if they can bring in Beal and be a consistent championship contender for the foreseeable future.
3. Houston Rockets
The Rockets are another contender that is starting to get themselves back on track, but offensively, there’s still a lot to be desired for them. Last year’s Rockets squad had 65 wins, and this year, they haven’t looked nearly the same, as Houston has started the year just 8-7.
Their chemistry with Carmelo Anthony did not work at all whatsoever, and Houston had a minus-9.0 net rating with him on the floor, per NBA.com. The team and Anthony then reported have “parted ways,” per the New York Times’ Marc Stein.
The Rockets have an offensive rating that is 12th in the NBA, which is fine, but could be much better given that they have James Harden, Chris Paul, Eric Gordon and rolling extraordinaire, Clint Capela.
Nonetheless, the Rockets are still very reliant on Harden and Paul’s playmaking, and even though Gordon is a good third option, he’s not the All-Star Beal is. A package of Gordon, Brandon Knight and Houston’s 2019 first-round pick could be enough for the Washington Wizards to ship out Beal to Houston.
Both Gordon and Knight are expiring after the 2019-2020 season, which makes their contracts a reasonable trade chip.
A lineup of Paul-Harden-Beal-P.J.Tucker/James Ennis III-Capela could provide incredible spacing and be a go-to lineup for the postseason and help max out Paul’s time with the Rockets in the near future.
2. Charlotte Hornets
The Charlotte Hornets desperately need more scoring outside of All-Star point guard Kemba Walker, who recently had a 60-point game against the 76ers (and the Hornets lost). Charlotte doesn’t have nearly enough spacing for Walker, who is often getting buckets on his own with his great handle. Beal could provide that spacing, and help the Hornets convince Walker to re-sign with them in the summer of 2019, in which he is an unrestricted free agent.
Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale suggested trading Beal and Jeff Green to Charlotte in exchange for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Jeremy Lamb, Malik Monk, Charlotte’s lottery protected 2019 first-round pick and a 2020 second-round pick (from the Brooklyn Nets or New York Knicks, via the Hornets).
That is an all-in move to keep Walker, as Favale demonstrated, but considering the Hornets reportedly want to re-sign Walker next summer, it would make sense to try to get a second star. They are only 17th in the NBA in three-point percentage, and Beal would greatly improve that percentage.
1. Phoenix Suns
The Suns are a young team that could use another shooter to help out emerging star Devin Booker, who recently signed a rookie scale max extension this summer. The Suns do have a promising young big in Deandre Ayton (the 2018 first overall pick), a solid young wing Josh Jackson, and another nice player in rookie Mikal Bridges, who projects as a three-and-D contributor.
The Suns are still learning how to win, though, at just 3-12 (and are just 28th in offensive rating), so Beal’s postseason experience with the Wizards in recent years could provide some much-needed leadership for a young Phoenix team.
Booker is making strides as a passer with 7.3 assists per game, and with a good handle already and ability to facilitate some in the pick-and-roll, why not allow him and Beal to both run as combo guards?
So what would the Washington Wizards be interested in from the Suns?
Trevor Ariza (who is expiring after this season), T.J. Warren (who is averaging 17.6 points per game on 61.6 percent shooting, per Basketball Reference), Dragan Bender (who has potential as a stretch big), and Phoenix’s 2020 second-round pick could be of interest.