Bradley Beal is the next potential big trade piece in the NBA — and in a league that thrives on drama and big player moves, fans and pundits are drooling. The Wizards put a three-year, $111 million contract in front of Beal this summer and he chose not to sign it (at least not yet), which led to even more calls from the outside for another dramatic NBA trade.
Inside the Wizards, that has never been on the table. Beal still has two years on his contract and has not demanded out (we’ll get to that, keep reading). Teams call, and newly-minted Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard shoots them down. Why? Because he wants to build around 25-year-old Beal as he moves into his prime, not start over. Here is what Sheppard told Brad Botkin of CBSSports.com.
“The way that I look at this is pretty simple: If you were looking to build a team, Brad would be the type of player anyone would want to start with,” Sheppard told CBS Sports. “You look at the character, the talent, the age, just the whole package … Brad is without a doubt a core player in this league. Every team would love to have him, and we do. So we’ve never considered anything other than a situation where Brad is with us and leading us forward. We made that clear to him on the first day we could offer him an extension, and we’ll continue to make that clear.”
Right now, Beal is not available, and that does not seem likely to change. For now.
There are two parts to the question of trading Beal: What Beal himself wants, and what the team should do.
Beal hasn’t asked for a trade and nobody should expect him to, and there are 250 million reasons for that. Beal wants a supermax extension ($250 million over five years), but to get that he would need to be named to an All-NBA team — he came in seventh in the guard voting last season, but only six make All-NBA (two guards each for the first, second, and third teams). Beal, with John Wall out this season after his torn Achilles, is going to have the ball in his hands a lot and is going to put up numbers — there is a legitimate chance he makes All-NBA next season. Then he becomes supermax extension eligible. However, if he gets traded Beal is no longer eligible for that extra five percent of the salary cap (only the Wizards can offer it). Beal doesn’t want to go anywhere, and don’t expect him to rack up DNP-Rest games either (he played a full 82 the last two seasons). Beal has his goal set.
Do the Wizards want to pay Beal that much and be committed to him for that long? That is the bigger question.
Is this a case, as we have seen with other teams, where Washington will balk at that payday for that player and decide to make a trade (ala the Kings and DeMarcus Cousins). The Wizards would get a lot back in a Beal trade — you’ve seen the haul for Paul George, Anthony Davis, and other elite players — and it would jumpstart a rebuild.
Right now, Sheppard and the Wizards want to be in the Beal business, they have no plans to trade him. Calls continue to be turned away. If, come the trade deadline, it looks like Beal is on track to make All-NBA then the real test comes for the Wizards: Are they $250 million worth of committed to Beal? Maybe the mind of management and ownership shifts when the money gets real.
Right now, however, Beal is a Washington Wizard and that’s not changing anytime soon.