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Bradley Beal just keeps scoring. He’s already dropped a 60-piece this season, he hung 47 on the Pelicans Wednesday night and he’s averaging 41.0 per game over his last six. Unfortunately, the Wizards just keep losing. They’ve lost five of the last six games Beal played, six of their last seven overall and have dropped to a league-worst 3-11 on the season.
Beal is clearly frustrated. He confirmed what we can all see by responding “Is the sky blue?” when asked by a reporter last night if he was indeed frustrated. He keeps saying he wants to win in Washington but that’s looking like an increasingly implausible scenario, a fact which can’t be lost on him.
A trade may still be just a vague possibility but there are a dozen teams who would try to piece together meaningful offers if it was clearly on the table. If the Wizards and Beal decide it’s time for a trade, who could offer the most interesting deal?
The Pelicans have gotten off to a rocky start and are reportedly exploring trades for both Lonzo Ball and J.J. Redick. They also have an enormous cache of future draft picks that they could parse out a bit, facilitating a deal and still holding onto enough value for themselves to keep building. Something like Ball, Redick and Kira Lewis would give the Wizards cap relief, the option to try and resign Ball this offseason and a very highly thought-of young point guard. The Pelicans have the rights to 12 first-round picks in the next seven drafts, not to mention pick swaps, so they could offer two or three to Washington and still be way ahead of the curve on that front. It might not be the best deal the Wizards see but the Pelicans are one of the few teams in position to offer multiple future picks in a Beal deal.
Heading into the 2020 NBA Draft, the Warriors seemed primed for a big swing and Beal was one of the most intriguing possibilities. But things have changed a bit for them. They could still offer Minnesota’s first-round pick in the upcoming draft, which has a good chance of ending up as the No. 1 pick. But salary matching is a bit more complicated. Andrew Wiggins has looked like a much better fit than Oubre Jr. but his contract is bigger and longer and likely less appealing to the Wizards. Oubre probably doesn’t have much appeal for the Wizards and Golden State may be unwilling to part with James Wiseman. Trading Draymond Green for Beal almost certainly is subtraction by subtraction. Maybe there’s something here but I’m having a hard time seeing it.
The Thunder have even more draft capital than the Pelicans — 16 first-round picks over the next seven drafts, along with myriad pick swaps. They could probably piece together a viable deal with just picks and veteran contracts for salary matching — George Hill, Trevor Ariza and Darius Miller would work. The problem is that Beal is 27 and trading for a star in their prime rapidly speeds up their timeline. They may not be ready to pivot so quickly towards contention when their plan has been to take things more slowly.
This seems slightly less plausible than it did before the season began and the appearance of chaos was still surrounding Philadelphia. On paper, Beal is a much cleaner fit next to Joel Embiid, especially in the midst of his MVP-level campaign. And while the 76ers have been great this season, posting the best record in the Eastern Conference thus far, there hasn’t been any meaningful evidence that they’ll be able to maximize the talents of Embiid and Simmons at the same time. Their salaries are close enough that a one-for-one deal works and, honestly, I’m not sure if either side could make a viable ask for more compensation than that. However, the 76ers just declined an opportunity to get involved in the James Harden trade, a player who is at least a tier above Beal. So maybe they’re good with continuity?
A trade may or may not be coming, but Beal isn’t going to stop scoring and the Wizards almost certainly going to stop losing. So get prepared for plenty of trade rumors until something else changes in the status quo.
Rennia Davis has the size and skill to fill multiple roles at both ends of the floor and that versatility should keep her near the top of the WNBA Draft.
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Things are taking shape at the top of the Western Conference. Who has the best chance of advancing to the NBA Finals?