Bradley Beal has not asked the Washington Wizards for a trade. Not yet, anyway. After reports emerged this weekend that Beal wanted out of Washington, Wizards reporter Fred Katz reported for The Athletic this morning that the superstar guard has not yet requested the team find him a new home, but he is thinking long and hard about his future with the franchise:
Bradley Beal hasn’t asked out. There is no trade demand or trade request, not even a timid suggestion, according to sources. But here we are, where the news of the week is an All-NBA talent deciding whether or not to make a decision.
Beal, a three-time All-Star who can become a free agent after this upcoming season, has spent recent weeks mulling his future and “at times has been very much on the fence about whether or not he wants to remain with the Wizards,” our Shams Charania wrote Sunday, a report that came on the heels of a similar one from Bleacher Report. A verdict on whether or not he will choose to stay with the Wizards could come as soon as this week, sources say.
As Katz aptly points out, it's more than a little silly that Beal deciding to make a decision is enough of a news-driver that I'm writing this article right now. On the other hand, even the slightest indication that Beal is just thinking about maybe wanting to leave is a big change of pace from how he's conducted himself in these situations in the past. Beal has been adamant for several years now that he wants to stay with Washington. Katz' article above paints that picture quite well.
For now, the status quo remains the same. Beal can and probably will stick around in Washington for 2021-2022, see what happens, and if he's still unsatisfied he can simply opt out of the final year of his deal and hit free agency. But the fact that he wanted Sam Cassell to be the new coach (and instead got Wes Unseld Jr.) and that the Wizards appear set to run it back again next season with the same core that bowed out in the play-in tournament means the situation is fluid. If Beal does request a trade, where could he go? Here are four likely destinations.
The Celtics will be mentioned in every Beal discussion held over the next two years because he, just like Boston star Jayson Tatum, is a born-and-raised St. Louis guy. What's more, Tatum and Beal basically grew up together. Everyone knows they're pals. The Celtics also have the advantage of one of the better possible trade pieces around the NBA in the form of Jaylen Brown. Beal's addition would make Boston dangerous offensively and keep their home-grown superstar happy, which is arguably as important a goal as any other at this point in Tatum's career. Washington, meanwhile, would be hard-pressed to get a better return for Beal than Brown, even if the Celtics don't have a lot of draft picks to offer up in addition to the budding star.
This is everyone's second-favorite scenario to try and speak into existence. The Sixers need perimeter creation more than anything and Beal is one of the very best in the business in that regard. The Sixers also have a very talented young guy with a contract that matches up well with Beal's. Ben Simmons is on the block this summer and is one of the few players good enough to justify a one-for-one trade with Beal. Both sides would emerge fairly pleased with that agreement, even if the on-court combination of Simmons and Russell Westbrook is the stuff of spacing nightmares. Simmons has his issues but is the best player right now that the Wizards could land in return for their own star.
It would be tough for Miami to pull off a Beal trade without sending out Bam Adebayo or Jimmy Butler, but you know Pat Riley will try. Beal is set to make $34 million next season. In theory, the Heat could sign-and-trade Duncan Robinson (who could make as much as $20 million a year) and cobble together other salaries while sending out other young talent like Tyler Herro and Precious Achiuwa to entice Washington. A Big 3 of Adebayo, Butler, and Beal is a legitimate contender and Riley wouldn't think twice before making the deal. It'll be hard to convince the Wizards to agree, though; Miami doesn't have a first-round pick in this year's draft and Herro's stock has gone through the floor following his post-bubble struggles. Still, you can't count out Miami in discussions like these.
New York Knicks
Hello again, old friend. The Knicks are officially Back in the sense that they're included in all trade discussions for superstars. New York has two first-rounders in this year's draft and all their picks going forward. They have enough cap space that they don't need to exactly match Beal's salary to land him. They don't have an overwhelming amount of young talent, but they do have some, like Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin. At the end of the day, it's hard to see Washington agreeing to any deal without RJ Barrett, but if the Knicks believe in their ability to sell Beal on New York City and a winning culture, they won't hesitate to include their best young guy.