NBA Trade Buzz: Washington Wizards Star Bradley Beal Could Request For Trade
Beal era in Washington could be over next season
Bradley Beal’s long and productive tenure with the Washington Wizards could be over before the commencement of the next NBA season. In an article written by Jake Fischer of the Bleacher Report, it is being reported that people around the league are anticipating a trade request coming from the long-time Wizards All-Star shooting guard.
Beal, who has been with the team since being drafted in 2012, has grown from a good spot-up shooter to an all-around superstar who has become one of the elite scorers in the league. He is coming off a career-best season in which he put up an incredible stat line of 31.3 points 4.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.2 steals per contest. He also produced an efficient 48% overall clip from the field, which is frankly a great testament to how good of a scorer he is despite being hounded by a lot of double-team schemes from opposing teams.
In the column written by Fischer, he also mentioned that Beal is seeking an “established winning environment” in the next team that he will be playing for. Even with the numerous trade speculations that he has been around in the past, Beal has always been adamant that his priority is to stay in Washington granting that the front office will be able to surround him with a supporting cast that could seriously contend in the Eastern Conference.
But so far, it is clear that this Wizards team is far off from becoming a serious title contender. While it is true that they have moved on from the injury-prone John Wall, getting an all-around point guard in Russell Westbrook is not enough to get them over the hump. Fischer also mentioned four teams that could be Beal’s preferred destinations, namely the Boston Celtics, the Golden State Warriors, the Miami Heat, and the Philadelphia 76ers.
"He knows he has to make a decision before the draft," one source with direct knowledge of Beal's thinking told Bleacher Report. For the past year, people familiar with Beal's dedicated relationship to the Wizards have consistently rebuffed the notion he had interest in playing elsewhere. Yet a second source close to Beal, when contacted by B/R, confirmed the situation is now fluid. Beal has long maintained to confidants his desire to stay in Washington, so long as he believed the Wizards were positioned to advance deep into the postseason. And if Beal were to seek a new team, he would do so only to land in an established winning environment, sources said.
Beal does not have a proverbial list of preferred destinations, but it was mentioned by multiple sources that he would welcome joining teams such as Boston, Golden State, Miami or Philadelphia—although Beal requesting a trade would all but guarantee an expansive bidding war across the league. The number of potential destinations and interested suitors could span a significant portion of the NBA. "Beal's the guy right now," one assistant general manager said. "The one guy that could be available, that could help you win the whole thing."
Since averaging 13.9 points per game during his rookie season, Beal has improved his scoring numbers year in and year out. On top of his scoring prowess, he has also developed his ability to create for his teammates while also exerting good defensive instincts and effort on the other end of the floor. At 28 years of age, Beal has just entered the peak years of his career and there is no doubt that he is already one of the best all-around stars that we have in the NBA right now.
After booking a playoff ticket via the Play-In Tournament, the Wizards bounced out of the first round of the postseason, losing to Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers in five games. Beal then focused his sights on playing for Team USA in the upcoming Olympic Games at Tokyo, but he unfortunately entered the COVID-19 health and safety protocol, preventing him from joining the team as they travel to Japan. He, along with Kevin Love who begged off from the team due to a calf injury, were replaced by athletic big man JaVale McGee and young combo forward Keldon Johnson.
It was definitely an unfortunate circumstance for Beal, especially with the fact that he already made it to the Team USA starting line-up, alongside Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum, Miami Heat star Bam Adebayo, and Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant. Beal showed what he can do on both ends of the floor during the national team’s first couple of tune-up games so this is definitely a heart-breaking development not just for Beal, but also for the whole squad.
In an interview with Michael Kaskey-Blomain of CBS Sports a couple of weeks ago, Beal said that representing the country is indeed a huge blessing for him. Even though this is the first time that he was included in the team’s official 12-man line-up (before his COVID-19 protocol inclusion), he also pointed out that he was actually in the running for a spot in the 2019 FIBA World Cup but he had to prioritize the birth of his son at that time. Beal said that this is something that he has always been itching to do for a long time now so it is very unfortunate that something out of his control prevented him to join his teammates at Tokyo.
“To represent the country, it's a blessing. It's an honor. It's something that you don't take for granted. Not a lot of guys in the league get this opportunity. We all know that. So, you embrace it. You understand that the U.S. wants you to win, and everyone else wants you to lose. We didn't live up to what we wanted to a few years ago [in the 2019 FIBA World Cup], and so now we have an opportunity to get back what's rightfully ours.
For me, when the opportunity came and presented itself, and Jerry Colangelo called me, I was thrilled. I was shocked in a lot of ways. I was just happy. I got the blessing for my family to go ahead and go and represent everybody, so it's amazing to be here in Vegas, [and] get acclimated with the guys. The training has been crazy intense, every single day. So, it's been real. The reason why we are going as hard as we are, man, we're trying to get that gold [medal]. I've always been a part of USA basketball, and I didn't get to go to the World Cup in 2019 because of the birth of my son. And then now this decision wasn't easy either because I actually missed one of my older brother's weddings. So, I actually had to make sure I got his blessing or permission to make sure it was cool, because I wouldn't have gone if he said no.”
Of course, the Wizards front office are coming off the recent hiring of Wes Unseld Jr. as their new head coach. Unseld, who recently held the role of associate head coach for the Denver Nuggets, is known around the league as a great coach in developing untapped potential of young talented players. That will come in handy as the Wizards try to develop young guns such as Rui Hachimura, Isaac Bonga, and Deni Avdija.
Unseld replaces Scott Brooks, who has served as the Wizards’ head coach since the 2016-17 NBA season. Under Brooks’ tenure, the Wizards made it to the playoffs three times, reaching the semifinal round just once. But then again, Brooks just did not have the tools and weaponry to succeed, especially with Wall suffering consecutive major injuries.
Even with all the trade speculations swirling around the organization, Unseld made it known that he has already reached out to both Beal and Westbrook. As per Fred Katz of The Athletic, Unseld said that he has already been giving Beal some pointers on how to improve his overall efficiency, especially in terms of getting his touches within the flow of the offense.
Unseld also pointed out that it is important for him and his coaching staff to kind of take away some of the pressure off Westbrook and Beal’s shoulders. Sure, the NBA is a star-commanded league but it is also about surrounding your stars with the right and fitting supporting cast.
Sure, and I’ve had conversations with Brad. It’s just giving him two or three things or ways I felt could help his overall efficiency. He struggled off the dribble in those pull-up 3 situations, those iso situations. Sure, it’s a shot he can make, but we don’t wanna live and die with those. I think he’s gonna bail us out many times. But how do we make things easier for him? Because we all know, when you prepare for a guy like Bradley, teams are gonna be aggressive, because the key is to take away his air space, give him no daylight. A lot of times, he’s gonna see two, sometimes three bodies. So, getting him off the ball to get it back, putting him in multiple actions to kinda loosen up defenders I think is gonna be helpful for him.
I think it goes back to my previous point. You’re trying to find ways to take the pressure off because they’re gonna command a lot of attention and that’s a credit to who they are as players, who they are as people. They put themselves in a situation where they’re both dynamic offensive weapons. So, trusting their teammates a little bit, it’s not only on the defensive end. I’m gonna ask them to do a little bit more on offense from time to time.
Beal, who has just turned 28 years of age, still has two more years left in his current contract. He signed a two-year, $71 million contract with the Wizards that will end in the summer of 2023. Beal also has a player option in 2022, but it remains to be seen if he will opt out of that deal.
The Wizards will also have the chance to bring in a young talented player via the 2021 NBA Draft. They currently own the 15th overall selection, which they will surely use to select a combo forward who can defend, or a valuable back-up combo guard who can reinforce the team’s second unit when either Westbrook or Beal takes their rest on the bench.