At 11-16, the Wizards remain a team in flux. After a difficult start to the season, they’ve won six of eleven, and are just one game out of the eighth seed. Unfortunately this is still far below expectations for a team with three max players, the sixth-highest payroll in the NBA, and the looming specter of a repeater tax bill if they stay in the tax this season and next season.
[Note from Kevin: Fans are dismayed by the team’s first quarter of the season, and they have looked terrible. But...out of curiosity, ran some numbers and estimated that a team of the approximate quality of last season’s Wizards would be expected to go 39-43 against this year’s schedule. That hypothetical team’s expected record after 25 games — 11-14.]
We began last week by looking at potential trade scenarios surrounding the Big Three in Washington, triggered by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski report that the franchise is giving the impression that everyone on their roster is available for discussion in trade scenarios. Part One focused on Otto Porter. Today we move to Bradley Beal, the most sought-after player on the Wizards’ roster.
Trading Beal seems somewhat counter-intuitive. He’s 25 years old, armed with excellent perimeter shooting and the ability to create for himself and teammates, and he’s signed for two more seasons after this one. Why should the Wizards trade him when they could be building around him?
- Wizards dysfunction. Drama has engulfed this team throughout the first quarter of the season, and Beal has had his part in it. Chris Sheridan reported Beal has made it known that he is looking to move on from Washington. Beal and his agent denied the report, but during that volatile practice, Beal told team officials, “I’ve been dealing with this for seven years.”t If the Wizards decide to rebuild or retool around Beal, it will take him committing to the organization; something he may not be willing to do.
- The team has peaked. This iteration of the Wizards, after years together, has probably hit its ceiling, and altering the franchise’s long-term trajectory will require significant change. John Wall, who we will be looking at in the future, has a supermax contract starting next season, which likely curtails his trade value. Porter is perceived by some as a glue guy that teams want and need, but his salary may limit the team’s ability to get a return that significantly moves the needle. That means the Wizards need to at least consider trading their star shooting guard. Dan Feldman of NBC Sports noted;
The Wizards should demand a lot for Beal. He’s a 25-year-old star who’s locked up for two seasons after this one at a reasonable salary, and his 3-point shooting and defense make him an easy fit on practically every team.
The Spurs were able to net DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a first round pick for Kawhi Leonard. Jimmy Butler garnered Dario Saric, Robert Covington, and a second round pick. Leonard and Butler are both better than Beal, but once you factor in age, contract, and fit, it changes the expectations for what the Wizards could expect if they really started to shop Beal aggressively. So, Kevin Broom and I are back at it, discussing the pros and cons around a few hypothetical deals surrounding half of the Wizards’ starting backcourt.
Trade #1: The Wizards trade Beal to the Charlotte Hornets for Marvin Williams, Malik Monk, and Miles Bridges
Oz’s take: The Hornets have apparently inquired about Brad, but what would a deal with the Hornets look like? The proposed trade sends the Hornets’ last two lottery picks to Washington. Malik Monk has had a rocky start to his career but Miles Bridges is the centerpiece here; an athletic combo-forward they can build around.
Washington also sheds salary in this trade and adds Marvin Williams, who can be packaged in a subsequent deal or kept as a veteran locker room presence. Financially, this trade is a plus for Washington, since they have two years of additional controlled rookie salary for Monk and three additional years for Bridges but the downside is we don’t really know what they’ll turn into yet.
The Wizards should also angle for draft compensation in addition to the players listed above.
Broom’s take: The key with trading Beal is to cash in on the difference between perceptions of how good he is and the actual level of his production. In other words, find a trade partner that thinks of him as one of the game’s elite guards and is willing to pay for him on that basis. For me, this deal doesn’t come close matching Beal’s perceived value, despite the potential of Bridges and (to a lesser extent) Monk. “Angle for draft compensation” is right. The Wizards shouldn’t consider this without getting back an unprotected first round pick.
Verdict: Consider only if an unprotected first round pick is included but explore better offers elsewhere.
Trade #2: The Wizards trade Beal to the Toronto Raptors for Jonas Valanciunas, OG Anunoby, and CJ Miles.
Oz’s take: This trade is Masai Ujiri pushing all his chips in as he tries to solidify the Raptors as a championship contender. The Wizards get a solid starting center in Valanciunas, along with a young player with upside in Anunoby. Opinions on this trade will likely depend on your opinion of Anunoby, the second year 3&D player who had a strong rookie season but has struggled this season.
Broom’s take: This is an interesting idea that would probably be unpopular with Wizards fans, but at least rearranges the talent and changes team dynamics. From Toronto’s perspective, it’s the kind of move a contending team makes — swapping several pretty good role players for a potential “last piece.” For Washington, while it still doesn’t quite feel like they’re getting full value, a first round pick would be too much, and they don’t value second rounders. The guy I most want from Toronto is Pascal Siakim, but there’s a 0.0 percent chance Ujiri trades him.
Verdict: Not bad, but pass as currently presented.
Trade #3: The Wizards trade Beal and Kelly Oubre Jr. to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Tristan Thompson, Jordan Clarkson, Cedi Osman, and a 2020 lottery-protected first round pick.
Oz’s take: You might be screaming when you see this but before you lose it, just take a look at what Thompson has actually been doing of late. Over his last 17 games heading into the weekend, he’s averaging 14.1 points and 13.5 rebounds per game on 57 percent shooting from the field. He was the best player on the floor as the Cavaliers wiped the floor with Washington on Saturday night. He would fill a lot of needs for Washington once he recovers from his foot injury.
Clarkson has also been playing better of late and Cedi Osman is a glue guy type who needs to shoot better, but could be a contributor to a decent team. That being said, this would be a tough sell as the return for Beal. On that note however, Thompson is a player the Wizards should consider pursuing independent of a Beal trade.
Broom’s take: Ok, I like Thompson, who has been playing well. Clarkson and Osman, not so much. And while I know this is an exercise in considering Beal trades, if the Wizards are going to look at dealing with Cleveland, I’d leave Beal out of it and try swapping Mahinmi’s contract for Thompson. The Cavs would likely insist on getting paid a first round pick, at which point the Wizards should hang up the phone, but Thompson would be a significant upgrade inside for the team.
Verdict: Pass but let’s call Cleveland to talk Thompson nonetheless.
Trade #4: The Wizards trade Beal and Jeff Green to the Los Angeles Lakers for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and Lance Stephenson.
Oz’s take: Things always seem to circle back to Los Angeles and the Lakers, don’t they? In this trade the centerpiece is Ingram, a divisive player in league circles. He seems to be more comfortable when tasked with creating offense rather than simply being a wing scorer. Hart comes in to replace Beal as the two guard. KCP and Stephenson are salaries are needed to make a trade work, with the expectation that Stephenson gets bought out of what’s lets on his deal before he ever suits up for the Wizards. If you believe in the 21-year-old Ingram’s talent, this trade makes sense. Otherwise, it’s a pass.
Broom’s take: I don’t believe in Ingram’s talent. He’s been below average throughout his young career, and his production has careened to replacement level this year. I tried several other scenarios in an effort to get Kuzma in addition to Hart, but the only way that works is to include Rondo or Stephenson and Beasley, and I have no interest in any of those guys for the Wizards. The other possibility would be including Ball, but that doesn’t make sense on a roster that includes John Wall.
Verdict: Split decision but again, pass for now and explore all options. Consider this if down the road the decision is made to reset.
Trade #5: The Wizards trade Beal and Markieff Morris to the Boston Celtics for Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier.
Oz’s Take: We had to throw in a curveball! The Celtics have been playing better lately, but at 16-10 and in fifth place in the East have to be getting worried. Their problems have been on the offensive end, and Danny Ainge may finally be willing to consolidate assets for an All-Star guard. Would Brad Stevens be on board trading Hayward?
For Washington, this is more of a retooling move instead of a rebuild, but it does give them some options. Hayward has had a slow recovery from a traumatic broken leg, so there would have to be a leap in faith that given time and a larger role, he more closely resembles that Utah Jazz player we saw. Rozier is interesting, as he’s wanted a larger role. Pairing him in a two point guard backcourt with Wall, may not work, but also gives the Wizards a point guard of the future if they decide to move on from Wall as well.
Broom’s take: My nutty idea was a straight Beal for Hayward swap, and you had to go make it nuttier by adding in Morris and Rozier. And you didn’t even mention reuniting the Morris brothers! To tell the truth, adding Rozier makes this my favorite Beal trade scenario.
Man, does it give the Wizards options. On the court, Hayward and Porter at the forward spots gives the team a lot of shooting, rebounding and savvy, as well as good ingredients for a switchy one through four defense. Rozier and Wall provide athleticism, aggression and playmaking, albeit not great shooting. It leaves them with a hole at backup center, but they could likely fill that with another small trade. It also gives them more flexibility to be aggressive trading Porter or Wall to dramatically reload the roster.
Verdict: We’re all in!
What this exercise has shown us is the Wizards aren’t in a position where they have to do something with Beal, but if the decision is made to trade him, they can be very selective and set a high price tag, as they should for their 25-year-old All-Star shooting guard. The only trade Kevin and I were in absolute agreement on was one which returned a proven talent in Gordon Hayward and a younger veteran who has proven he can play, but also offers potential upside in Terry Rozier.
Coming up next; is the Supermax moveable?