It’s become a matter of when not if Bradley Beal will be traded.
The two-time NBA All-Star has looked downright depressed on the court this season as his team deals with injuries (Russell Westbrook and Thomas Bryant are out), a poor record (3-8) and a COVID-19 breakout.
While Beal has been nothing but professional, he’s also uber-competitive, and despite pouring in a league-high 34.9 points per game, it hasn’t been enough to put the Wizards in a position for a playoff push.
In today’s NBA, the sharks start circling even before there’s blood in the water. Which teams should be on the hunt for Beal? We've listed six teams that need to go all-in to acquire the prodigious scorer.
It’s painfully obvious that the Heat need more scoring, even though they’ve rarely fielded a fully healthy roster this season. They’re currently ranked 18th in points per game and 26th in points allowed.
More importantly, Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic, arguably two of the team’s three best players, are on the wrong side of 30 and just lost in the NBA Finals. These guys can help you win now, so why not make a big splash for one of the most talented scorers in the league?
Because of Beal’s impressive resume, he won’t come cheap, but Miami can offer multiple first-round picks, Tyler Herro and Precious Achiuwa, as well as Andre Iguodala and Kelly Olynyk for salary matching purposes.
It’s a lot to give up, but Pat Riley has never been afraid of making a big move, and this is one that could push Miami over the top.
The Nuggets have been ready to make a blockbuster trade, they just need the right partner and the Wizards could be just that. Denver has plenty of pieces to make a big splash, including Michael Porter Jr., Gary Harris, RJ Hampton, Zeke Nnaji along with future first-rounders for Beal.
An offense with Nikola Jokic at the helm tossing water-polo passes amid an explosive offense would be terrifying for opposing defenses. It'd basically be the Nuggets' current offense on steroids.
Beal would give the Nuggets a lights-out shooter, which is quietly someone who they haven’t really had since Jokic makes everyone better.
The whole league knows that Ben Simmons was very close to being shipped to Houston in exchange for James Harden. If 76ers general manager Daryl Morey was willing to part with Simmons for a 31-year old star, wouldn’t he be willing to offer a similar package for a younger guard?
Beal and Joel Embiid would be a dynamic duo. Beal’s versatile offensive game and ability to create space and launch jumpers is a perfect fit with Embiid’s brute-force post-up game.
By trading Simmons, the 76ers’ defense would definitely take a hit since it would lose one of the game’s stingiest perimeter defenders. But with Embiid manning the back end and Danny Green still a capable defender, the offensive increase would likely outweigh what Philly loses on defense.
Luka Doncic and Bradley Beal? Man, that'd be filthy.
A rookie out of Arizona, Green has gotten some playing time this season. He hasn’t shown much, but there are outlines of a solid 3-and-D player one day. Brunson meanwhile is a quality backup guard who can play both positions, make plays for his teammates and even get buckets when called upon. He’s one of the best backups in the league.
Dallas would finally have a Big 3 worth talking about with two of the game’s best scorers in the backcourt, and the towering, sweet-shooting Latvian Kristaps Porzings manning the middle.
Unfortunately for the Mavs, this deal pales in comparison to what the Nuggets and Sixers can offer.
The Raptors have won three in a row after a surprising 2-8 start to the season. Toronto desperately needs someone who can put the ball in the basket, and Beal would be the perfect piece. Would the team be willing to part with Pascal Siakam, who has underwhelmed thus far when asked to be the leading man?
It’s a conversation that brain trust Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster should — and likely are — having. Kyle Lowry is 35, but still able to contribute in the short term. By giving him and Fred VanVleet a backcourt mate who can carry the scoring load, could Toronto make another push in the East?
New Orleans Pelicans
It's early, but the Pelicans haven't made the jump from lottery squad to playoff contender like they hoped. Part of the issue is a complete lack of shooting sans the immortal J.J. Redick, and even he is struggling, converting just 31% of his 3s this season.
As a team, New Orleans ranks 29th in 3-point percentage and 28th in 3-pointers made. In a league that requires proper floor spacing, that isn’t going to get the job done.
For the Pelicans, a lineup of Beal, Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson and Steven Adams is still light on spacing, but it’s miles better than what New Orleans is fielding now, and gives the Pelicans one of the best three-headed scoring punches in the league with Beal, Ingram and Williamson.
Photo: Getty Images / Lines Illustration