Damian Lillard might not be the only star to make a move this offseason.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Bradley Beal’s agent and the Wizards “remain in close contact to discuss possible scenarios to be presented to the franchise.” It sounds like there could be a swap if Washington decides to rehire the roster under Michael Winger, who was just hired as the team’s president.
Beal has not been named an All-Star for the past two seasons, but is widely regarded as one of the NBA’s top shooting guards. He has earned three All-Star selections and one All-NBA selection in his career, averaging 22.1 points, 4.3 assists, and 4.1 rebounds per game.
What makes Beal’s situation interesting is the fact that he recently signed a contract extension that includes a rare no-trade clause. As Wojnarowski points out, this means the teams will need to discuss business with Beal’s agents in addition to Washington’s front office.
With that in mind, which teams could be attractive to Beal?
Trade destinations in Bradley Beal
The Heat are expected to be “excellent candidates” for Beal if the Wizards decide to trade him, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. No wonder why: Miami is a popular destination for NBA players, the franchise has never shied away from chasing stars, and the Heat have made a trip to the NBA Finals, where they also starred alongside Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo could have used another playmaker.
The Heat has also been discussed as a potential target for Lillard. However, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said he believes that if Beal is traded on the basis of his contract, people will be “very surprised at the price and possibly how low it will be”.
If that’s the case, the Heat may have a better chance of getting Beal than Lillard.
The 76ers are another competitive team that could use another playmaker. They’d have an even greater need for someone like Beal when James Harden leaves the franchise as free agency.
According to Philly Voice’s Kyle Neubeck, the 76ers aren’t currently interested in Beal “as a long-term building block” because his contract is in place and the new CBA is a punishment for teams where multiple players make big bucks. Still, it’s worth keeping her in mind as a potential target for Beal, because he is should be I’m close friends with Joel Embiid and the two have the potential to be a perfect match.
Beal isn’t the passer like Harden, but he’s a dynamic goalscorer who also thrives off the ball. Embiid developed great chemistry with Seth Curry while he was in Philadelphia. Beal could be a supercharged version of that.
Someone else Beal is said to be closely associated with: Celtics star Jayson Tatum.
In 2021, Tatum recounted NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin that he and Beal have “often” talked about joining forces. He added that the pair “definitely like the idea.”
There’s a chance the Celtics will try to turn things around after their disappointing exit from the 2023 NBA playoffs. It’s hard to believe the Celtics can take on Beal without giving up Jaylen Brown, but if they could, Tatum, Beal and Brown would make an explosive (and expensive) trio.
If the Wizards wouldn’t listen to a non-Brown offer, it could be almost as simple as a one-for-one trade with possible draft compensation. It would likely come down to whether the Celtics think Tatum and Brown have reached their limits as a duo and whether they think Beal could be the character to get them over the hill.
New York Knicks
The Knicks are associated with every star that becomes available because they have so many assets. That includes Lillard, but Beal would be a more natural fit alongside Jalen Brunson as he’s more of a traditional shooting guard.
It helps that Beal has experience playing alongside a dominant ball carrier. John Wall and Beal were selected as All-Stars a total of seven times during their time together as teammates. They achieved notable success in the playoffs, peaking in 2017 when the Wizards were just one win away from the Eastern Conference Finals.
Whether the Wizards are looking for draft pay or prospects that make sense for their rebuild, the Knicks would be well-placed to strike a trade for Beal.
The Clippers deserve mention for several reasons.
First, LA is hungry for a championship and has already promised a lot to its duo Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The Clippers don’t have many assets to trade for a player of Beal’s caliber, but if his price is actually lower than people think they might be able to pull it off.
Also note the following:
Something I’m keeping in mind is the potential urgency for likely big backers to make big deals ahead of the new league year.
For example, teams like the Heat, Sixers, or Clippers could acquire Bradley Beal now for a lower salary without a hard cap for 2023-24. https://t.co/6ipH322pmW – Yossi Gozlan (@YossiGozlan) June 14, 2023
Second, there is a connection between Winger and the Clippers as he was the team’s general manager before joining the Wizards. That familiarity could help land a deal if the Clippers were interested in Beal.