Should The Wizards Trade Bradley Beal? If So, Where?
Bradley Beal is putting together a season for the ages.
Currently, he's on pace to join James Harden, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant as the only players to average 35 ppg for an entire season in the shot-clock era, with his current 33.3ppg almost a full four points better than the NBA's next best, Steph Curry.
However In spite of Beal’s extraordinary play, the Wizards are once again languishing at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, sitting on a 6-15 record, and destined to miss the playoffs for a 9th time in 13seasons.
For all of Beal's offensive mastery, the Wizards defence has been abysmal, ranking 28th in league, surrendering a mammoth 115.9 points per 100 possessions.
Having lost Thomas Bryant for the season with an ACL tear, and with Rui Hachimura still in the early stages of his development, the future is bleak for the Wizards- at least for the next few years.
Russell Westbrook, with exception to his monster 41-10-8 performance against the Nets, has been a shell of his former self. With Russ often shooting below 40%, including some torrid 7-25, 3-11and 4-16 shooting nights, it's reasonable to ponder whether MVP Westbrook is now merely a fond memory.
At 27, Beal is right in the middle of his prime, with his skill-set perfectly suited to the modern game.
However, the timeline for the Wizards to become truly competitive again looks to be several years, with Westbrook still on the books for $91 million for another two seasons after this point, severely hampering Washington's ability to build around Beal.
By the time the Wizards have had a chance to rebuild their roster, and allow the likes of Israeli rookie Deni Avdija or Hachimura to fully develop, Beal will be on the wrong side of 30, and most likely beginning his decline.
While Beal's stated publicly he's not looking to be traded, and with one guaranteed year left on his deal (and a $37 million player option the following season), his current contract means moving him would be a very delicate equation.
But is Washington really getting Beal’s full value? Would they not be better suited to in fact proactively look to trade Beal for draft picks and young talent which could help fast-track their rebuild for the future?
Which brings us to the Denver Nuggets, who would arguably benefit the most through acquiring the ridiculously talented guard.
And they might even have the appropriate resources too, thus fulfilling the most difficult part of this dilemma.
Someone whom the Wizards might be very interested in, and whom could headline any compensation package, could be Michael Porter Jr.
In his sophomore season, the 2018 lottery pick is putting up a very impressive 20.7 and 8.8 points and rebounds per 36 minutes, while sinking his three-point shot at a dizzying 43.1%. In spite of these numbers, 'MPJ' can barely crack the starting line-up on a deep Denver team and would perhaps be more useful in Washington where his talents could be promoted more enthusiastically. Denver can match salaries with the Wizards by including lock-down guard Gary Harris, while they own all but one of their first round picks through 2027.
Beal would fit perfectly into the Nuggets offence. An elite off-the-dribble scorer who doesn’t constantly need the ball to be effective, the Nuggets would still be able to run their sophisticated offence through Nikola Jokic, while Beal and Jamal Murray would get their touches on the wing.
Additionally, Beal would provide some assurance to an offence which boasts an absurd +20 net rating with Jokic on the floor, but which has struggled mightily when he goes to the bench.
The hauls that the Thunder, Rockets and Pelicans received for Paul George, James Harden and Anthony Davis respectively have set the market price extremely high on trading for consistent, all-star talent.
While Denver would be cognisant of how exorbitant the Beal price-tag would be, having the former Gator alongside Jokic and Murray would ensure the Nuggets would be in the championship window for the foreseeable future- even if it means parting with so much capital.
For the Wizards, they'd get an up-and-coming young talent in Porter Jr who'll be entering his prime years when Westbrook's albatross contract finally expires. In addition, they'd have the kind of draft resources in place to perhaps unearth the next John Wall or Bradley Beal, and maybe this time around be in a better position to not squander their prime years.
As much as Beal seems to love the people of Washington, and likely doesn’t want to let them down, perhaps, like in any failed relationship, the best thing you can do for each other is to move on, suffer early, and be better off in five years’ time.
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