It seems the writing is, finally, on the wall for Bradley Beal in Washington. The Wizards basically brought in an entire new front office this offseason, one that is giving indications it will strongly consider a complete teardown of this roster. Then, on Wednesday, Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that Beal's camp is staying in contact with Washington on potential deals-- moving us closer than ever to a Beal trade.
As noted in the tweet Beal is making an ungodly amount of money next year and has a no-trade clause, which makes potential trades very difficult to project. It is tough for any team to match Beal's $46 million salary for 2023-24 and the teams with the cap space to absorb that salary without matching are not contending teams, which means Beal would probably nix a deal.
If the Wizards do trade Beal, they will not get anything near equal value. Beal is still a good scorer, averaging 23 points per game on a sorry Wizards team last year, but injuries have plagued him over the last few years and nobody really knows if this version of Beal is capable of playing winning basketball. Coupled with his massive supermax contract and Washington would be trading him just to kickstart a rebuild, not to receive a superstar trade haul in return.
All that said, Beal is a bucket-getter (with zero offcourt issues) and every team needs a guy like him. So let's see what the potential destinations for Beal would look like if the Wizards do trade their longtime face of the franchise.
The only team to get name-dropped so far, it's not hard to understand the Heat's motivation to get a deal done. Yeah, Beal is wildly expensive and on the older side, but Miami has rehabilitated players with much worse stock than Beal before. The lack of creation outside of Jimmy Butler was obvious by the time the Heat reached the NBA Finals and they certainly cannot expect another month of white-hot shooting to propel them through next year's playoffs.
What makes this deal likely is not what the Heat have to offer but rather their ability to execute a deal straight-up thanks to the salaries on their books. Offering Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson is enough to match Beal's salary. That return is where the issue lies, though. Washington is going to want more than that and the Heat have only their own draft picks to offer (minus their 2025 selection) and that's a raw deal for the Wiz. Maybe Miami get get a third team involved that will take Herro, put Kyle Lowry's expiring deal in his place to send to Washington, and get another group of assets from that third team to entice Washington. The bones are here for a trade, though.
If the Nets are going to make any big moves this offseason their first priority will be Damian Lillard, who recently named them as one of his top non-Portland destinations. But if the Blazers do not move their superstar, Beal makes sense as a backup option. He doesn't make the Nets a winning team but they have no incentive to be bad since all their picks belong to the Houston Rockets thanks to the James Harden trade. Being mediocre is totally fine for a franchise reliant on other teams for draft picks for the foreseeable future. That's a tough sell for Beal, though.
However the Nets are not trading Mikal Bridges under any circumstances so maybe teaming up with him will be enough to sell Beal. Without him the trade structure would probably feature a sign-and-trade with Cam Johnson, a good and young piece any team would want. Then you throw in filler like Joe Harris and Dorian Finney-Smith to make the money work (there's no chance Ben Simmons will get moved, even if his contract is the easiest to match with Beal's). To sweeten the deal Brooklyn could add one of their two first-round picks this year and a few more picks down the road from their Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant trades. It's not super ideal for both sides but there's enough motivation to consider it a possibility.
Beal has been linked to the Celtics for years thanks to his long-held friendship with Jayson Tatum and their shared hometown of St. Louis. Those rumors died off considerably after Beal signed his supermax deal, but if were to ever happen, the time would be now. Boston is coming off a disappointing playoff loss featuring a total collapse by Jaylen Brown, who is eligible for his own supermax deal this offseason. If the Celtics feel they have to capitalize on their window ASAP, sending out Brown for Beal is the move to make in theory. The defense would suffer but the offense would gain a steady offensive hand and Tatum's displeasure at them moving Brown would be offset by playing with Beal. Washington would be on board in any iteration because Brown feels like the best player they could possibly get in exchange for their aging superstar.
Here's the part where I tell you why it isn't going to happen. Brown cannot sign-and-trade his supermax contract, nor can he sign it with any other team. He has to sign it this offseason with the Celtics, which makes him ineligible to be traded for one year. There is no reason for Washington to be interested in this trade without Brown locked up on a multi-year deal because there's no reason to believe he would stick around upon hitting unrestricted free agency next summer. That's not to mention how dumb it would be for the Celtics to do this trade. Beal's defensive issues means he is not a better fit than Brown, he averaged fewer points than Brown last year, and Boston would be severely limited in all their future roster flexibility by Beal's contract. Trading Brown for an older, more expensive, worse player is not the path to Banner 18 and not really Brad Stevens' MO, either. So it is a possibility due to the Tatum-Beal connection, but it's a slim one at best.