The level of control Bradley Beal exerted over the Washington Wizards organization when he was traded to the Phoenix Suns last week was unprecedented. Beal essentially operated as a free agent even though he was under contract, dictating precisely where he went and how he got there. If he felt the Suns were giving up too much to get him, he could simply veto the trade until they softened the package — a win for the Suns and a massive loss for the Wizards.
This power was thanks to the no-trade clause the Wizards included in Beal’s supermax contract extension last offseason. The details of Beal’s contract have been dissected ad nauseum in the Wizards community, but long story short, Beal was paid the second-largest contract in NBA history last summer which included a no-trade clause, giving him the unlimited authority to veto any trade in which he was involved. Essentially, the Wizards were more all-in on Beal than any team has ever been on a player.
In the past, no-trade clauses never posed much a problem, considering they were only given to top five-ish players in the NBA, and rarely at that. Now that Beal — ranked 42 in The Ringer’s list of the best players in the NBA — has proven the dangers of getting too clause-happy, we may never see a no-trade clause again.
Below is a complete list of the players who have received a no-trade clause in NBA history. Next to their name is their Hall of Fame probability, a metric created by Basketball-Reference.com to roughly quantify the process of Hall of Fame induction. Please note that this is an imperfect statistic, and I only cite it here to display the discrepancy between Beal and other players who had no-trade clauses.
- David Robinson — 100.00%
- John Stockton — 100.00%
- Kobe Bryant — 100.00%
- Dirk Nowitzki — 100.00%
- Tim Duncan — 100.00%
- Kevin Garnett — 100.00%
- Dwyane Wade — 100.00%
- LeBron James — 100.00%
- Carmelo Anthony — 98.42%
- Bradley Beal — 2.26%
Every player on this list other than Beal either was a first-ballot hall-of-famer or will be when they are eligible. Beal is a really good player, but giving him a no-trade clause was a catastrophic mistake, as it completely neutered Washington’s return in the inevitable divorce.
Beal being flipped for Landry Shamet, 38-year-old Chris Paul and some second round picks was certainly not what Wizards management anticipated when they signed him to his supermax extension last summer.
Players have never exhibited such control over where they play, and the way the Beal era ended in Washington is sure to scare the rest of the league into abstaining from giving players no-trade clauses. I sincerely doubt we ever see one again.