Three Trade Destinations For Bradley Beal

Bradley Beal
Bradley Beal / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

Bradley Beal has long been tabbed as the next NBA superstar to hit the trade block, but the Washington Wizards point guard has been adamant about his desire to stay with the franchise that took a chance on him with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. Now, Beal appears to be wavering on that front and it could lead to a blockbuster deal.

Beal and the Wizards started off hot this season after completely reconfiguring the roster by trading Russell Westbrook, but the middle stretch of the year has not been kind. Washington is currently 12th in the Eastern Conference standings with a 23-27 record. Beal is in the midst of a down season himself, but but everybody knows who he is -- an elite bucket-getter who averaged north of 30 points per game in each of the last two seasons. That is why he'll be highly coveted if he does decide to force his way out, a possibility growing more likely according to The Athletic:

Multiple league sources have indicated Beal remains conflicted. His desire to stay for his entire career with the franchise that took him third overall in 2012 remains genuine. But Beal also remains uncertain about whether the Wizards can surround him with difference-making talent that will make them a regular playoff contender. His contention in a recent interview with NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller that another Play-In Tournament appearance would be a step back for him spoke volumes.

The team’s nosedive since its hot start has frustrated Beal, leaving him less sanguine about just taking the big bag next summer and staying in Washington. For the first time in a long time, sources close to Beal indicate he’s not rejecting out of hand the notion of trade elsewhere — even though his preference is to remain with the Wizards. Neither Beal nor his representatives, though, have officially asked for him to be moved with a week left before the deadline.

Beal is under contract through next season but can opt out this summer to become an unrestricted free agent. At that point he could leave the Wizards with nothing for their troubles or sign a supermax extension worth an astounding $241 million over five years. Washington must seriously consider trading their franchise star before either of those two scenarios come to fruition, even if a trade by next week's deadline is unlikely.

Who would be in the running for Beal if the Wizards opened for business? Here are a few options.

Philadelphia 76ers

The most obvious landing spot for Beal. Philly has a player (Ben Simmons, as you may have heard) holding out who has the salary to nearly match Beal's on his own, which makes the financial side easy. Simmons' absence has also allowed for the Sixers' young talent to shine in larger roles, most notably Tyrese Maxey. For all the problems Simmons is causing he is an enticing young talent under contract for the next four years.

Daryl Morey is dragging out the Simmons debacle as long as he can in order to land a star wing to pair with Joel Embiid, and Beal fits the bill. He'd provide scoring punch and his defensive deficiencies can be easily overcome with Embiid behind him. The Wizards get to reset with two young talents in Simmons and Maxey along with a few first-round picks. It's the cleanest deal on the table that gives both sides exactly what they're looking for.

Boston Celtics

The Celtics are going to be mentioned often in trade talks because Beal grew up with Jayson Tatum, and common logic suggests Boston is going to need a third star at some point to pair with him and Jaylen Brown to reach contender status. The noise is already growing louder about how well Tatum and Brown work together. The only way that noise goes away is by winning, and acquiring Beal as the last piece would lead to that in bunches, even if there would be legitimate questions about how far that trio could really go.

The issue is the Celtics don't have a ton to offer the Wizards in the likely scenario Washington wants to embark upon a full-scale rebuild. If Boston offers up Brown, he's probably the best player the Wiz could get for Beal but that defeats the purpose of getting Beal in the first place. A package of Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, one of the young wings rotting on the bench, and first-round picks is better than what a lot of other teams can offer but doesn't move the needle for Washington. There is no potential franchise centerpiece to build around in that trade like the Philly deal. The only real shot this comes to fruition is if Beal specifically requests to go to Boston to play with his childhood friend.

Denver Nuggets

This is a trade that would likely have to wait until the offseason for reasons that will become clear, but there's motivation for Denver and Washington in a possible transaction here. The Nuggets now know they have a championship-caliber player in his prime by the name of Nikola Jokic and should leave no stone unturned in their efforts to put as good a supporting cast around him as possible. Beal isn't a perfect fit alongside the reigning MVP but would certainly go a long way towards solving the team's atrocious shooting.

The issue is that Denver has no choice but to try and center a trade package around Michael Porter Jr., which is why it would probably have to wait until this summer as MPJ is out for the year with a back injury. The Wizards would need to check Porter's medicals and think long and hard about moving their franchise centerpiece for Porter considering this is not the first time a serious back issue has flared up. He has perhaps the highest upside out of any potential return, but the risk is obvious. Denver would have to agree to throw in a haul of picks for the Wizards to even consider it-- but it's a possibility given how good Jokic is.