Best Bradley Beal Landing Spots
The Washington Wizards are on the short list for worst Eastern Conference team next season. They have been a dumpster fire the past couple seasons, going so far as not hiring a new general manager and it’s July 18th as I write this! They have literally bypassed the two biggest tasks of a general manager (the draft and free agency) and are still yet to name the person who will be captaining their franchise into a new era of change. To make matters worse, John Wall is reportedly out for the upcoming season and that puts them in a very peculiar spot with their other franchise guard Bradley Beal.
Washington is expected to offer the two-time All-Star a contract extension later this month worth 3-years, $111 million. Beal can sign the extension on July 26th; exactly three years after he signed his max deal in the summer of 2016. If he doesn’t sign that extension that certainly means that there is unrest in the relationship between the two parties. The Clippers reportedly asked about the availability of Beal before pursuing Paul George to pair with Kawhi Leonard, but the Wizards were not willing to trade him at that time.
Beal took a leap last year into the elite category of NBA players after averaging 25.6 ppg 5.0 rpg and 5.5 apg. He still has two years left on his contract and is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2021. Beal has not approached the Wizards about a trade "yet", and they must take advantage of the small bit of leverage they have in a potential Beal trade to guarantee maximum returns, because even though he hasn’t requested a move yet, he will most likely not be re-signing with the Wizards, and will most likely ask out in the near future. Even teams that Beal wouldn’t necessarily commit to re-signing with would have substantial offers for him now if they believe they can convince him to stay, and that’s a lot easier for opposing GM’s to consider if they have a year and a half to have him in their organizations to sell him on their culture. With all that being said here are the spots where I see Beal fitting in best that have the assets required to be in the conversation.
1). Denver Nuggets
Potential Package: The Nuggets could offer the Wizards a package centered around Gary Harris, Michael Porter Jr. , Will Barton, and future picks.
Denver is the most ready-made spot for Beal to succeed. The Nuggets are knocking on the door of full-blown Western Conference contenders. They had a fantastic season last year winning 54 games before losing in the second round of the playoffs to the Trail Blazers in a heartbreaking Game 7. They just gave Jamal Murray a max deal that kicks in next summer and are very confident in their chances of competing in the coming years. Adding Beal to an already elite core of Murray, Nikola Jokic, and Paul Millsap puts Denver right in the class of the West and in the thick of the title race.
Beal has shown that he is able to be play on and off the ball, and putting him in Denver’s movement offense would be deadly. Beal shot 36.8% on catch and shoot three’s last season and that was in Washington’s offense where he was basically the only player capable of breaking down the defense. He will get much better looks in Denver’s system and his potential two-man game with Jokic could come to rival that of Murray and Jokic.
2). New Orleans Pelicans
Potential Trade Package: Either Lonzo Ball or Brandon Ingram, Derrick Favors or JJ Reddick, future picks (New Orleans has a whole lot)
New Orleans is in the middle of what looks like a masterful re-tooling by David Griffin, and could bolster their roster even more by aggressively pursuing Beal. New Orleans has the most trade assets of any team in the league and could approach the Wizards with a plethora of possible Beal trades depending on what Washington values.
The Pelicans already have a potential superstar in Zion Williamson and very solid young pieces that will grow alongside him. While Beal doesn’t exactly match the timeline of Williamson, Jaxson Hayes, and whoever they would potentially keep after a Beal trade, the Pels still have Jrue Holiday and solid vets that would allow them to be very serious contenders in the West over the next couple seasons while Zion grows and hopefully achieves his potential alongside Holiday and Beal.
3). Boston Celtics
Potential Trade Package: Either Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, future picks
Even with the way last year went, the Celtics still have a solid array of intriguing young players and draft assets. They could get a deal done with the Wizards and be right back in Finals contention sporting a Kemba Walker and Beal backcourt. With GM Danny Ainge holding on to both Brown and Tatum during the Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis sweepstakes it feels unlikely that either of them will be on the move but in order to get Beal I feel one of them would need to be included.
4). Oklahoma City Thunder
Potential Package: Danilo Gallinari, Patrick Patterson, and lots and lots of picks
While the Thunder don’t have the same caliber of young prospects as the teams mentioned ahead of them in this list but they do have the largest collection of future draft picks in the league. After dealing away Paul George, Russell Westbrook, and Jerami Grant the Thunder have accumulated 8 future first round picks from Denver, Miami, the Clippers, and Houston. If the Wizards wanted to do a deal centered around expiring contracts and future picks the Thunder could swoop in with a godfather offer for Beal.
5). Atlanta Hawks
Potential Package: Chandler Parsons or Allen Crabbe , one of Kevin Huerter, Cam Reddish, or DeAndre Hunter , and future picks
Like the Pelicans, the Hawks have a solid amount of enticing prospects and future draft picks. They have been focusing heavily on a youth movement in Atlanta, but if GM Travis Schlanke feels this team is ready to take the next step, Beal feels like a natural fit alongside Trae Young and John Collins.
With the way the Wizards franchise is trending, it feels inevitable that Bradley Beal gets moved this season or asks out in the near future. He will have a lot to consider with an extension presumably on the table and if he does ask to be traded and there are plenty of elite destinations, where he walks in the building and they are immediately Finals contenders (looking at you Denver). Beal is still only 26 and took a huge step forward last season, and I can’t imagine him being okay with sitting around and hoping that John Wall returns to his old form and then just running it back. If I am any of the teams on this list I am doing everything I can, within reason, to acquire Bradley Beal.