Although he failed to make the All-Star game this season, Bradley Beal is easily having the best year of his career. Not only is he averaging an eye-popping 30.5 points per game, but he’s also seen his assist numbers rise to a career-high 6.1 per game.
Despite being surrounded by a serious lack of talent in Washington, Beal has somehow carried the Wizards to 24 wins this season. With guys like Porzingis and Westbrook both being traded recently (as teams opt for a “tanking” approach to things), it’s clear why Beal’s name has popped up in trade rumors recently.
With the 76ers expected to be quite active this summer/fall in terms of shuffling pieces around, it’s also not much of a surprise that Philadelphia and Beal have been linked to each other. With the offseason looming, we’re taking a look at just how possible (and likely) a Beal-to-Philly trade would be.
For starters, I think it’s pretty safe to say that Elton Brand and the Sixers would enjoy Beal’s services. Not only does he provide the elite perimeter shooting that the team so desperately lacks, but he’s also improved drastically as a primary ball-handler. Pairing him up next to Ben Simmons in the backcourt fills two major holes within the offense.
The other major selling point to this trade is that the money works out. One of the biggest limiting factors for the Sixers this offseason is going to be the current salary situation they’ve put themselves in. Signing Al Horford vaulted the team well over the salary cap, meaning that any major trade this offseason would require an equally expensive player returning. Luckily, Beal is due to make $28 million next season.
Now that we’ve established some preliminary facts, the real question is why would the Wizards want to do this? The DC front office made it pretty clear back in January that they weren’t planning on shopping Beal anytime soon, and Beal himself even said that he envisioned staying with the Wizards for awhile.
However, Beal has a $70+ million dollar contract extension kicking in after 2021. With the second half of that extension being a player option, Beal could quite easily grab $62 million dollars over the next two seasons, and then simply walk the following year. With a breakup likely looming, opting to trade Beal while his value is highest seems like the best strategy for the Wizards’ front office.
Second, Beal made his comments regarding staying in DC before he was snubbed for the 2020 All-Star game. The lure of being the “guy” on a below-average team quickly fades away when it becomes clear the national media doesn’t care about you. The Wizards also currently rank 27th in overall fan attendance percentage, a frustrating fact considering how well Beal has performed recently.
Finally, the Sixers do in fact have a few pieces which could kickstart a Wizards rebuild based around a returning John Wall. While Wall will likely look like a shell of himself when he does return from his Achilles injury, the DC front office oddly seems sold on his abilities. The Wizards have been linked to a few centers recently to pair alongside Wall, the Sixers swooping in with Al Horford could start up trade conversations.
FINAL TRADE PACKAGE
Washington Wizards Receive
– Al Horford
– Josh Richardson
– Zhaire Smith
– 2020 First-Round Pick (via OKC)
– 2021 First-Round Pick
Philadelphia 76ers Receive
– Bradley Beal
That’s an absolute haul, I know. However, considering what guys like Paul George and Russell Westbrook just got traded for, it’s not outlandish to assume the Sixers will have to pay quite the price to land Beal. If the star SG is in fact made available this summer, a multitude of teams will likely be interested, driving up his price.
Giving up this many assets for one player would signal one final “desperation push” from the Sixers’ front office. The win-now trades of 2019/2019 didn’t work, and now the team is bogged down in ugly contracts. Selling the farm for Beal likely gives the 76ers a better shot at contending, however it could also result in disaster if Beal chooses to not re-sign in two years.
Ultimately, the likelihood of an uber-aggressive push for Beal by the Sixers seems unlikely. The team has their core trio of Simmons, Embiid, and Harris, and now it’s more about surrounding them with key role players (while also dumping that gross Horford contract).
Inquiring about a far more available, less expensive player like Buddy Hield, for example, seems much more likely (Sixers: Exploring the realism of a Buddy Field trade).
Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports