On Feb. 11, Bradley Beal most likely will still be a member of the Washington Wizards.
However, for the first time in a long time, there seems to be an opening, and maybe some momentum, toward a Beal trade. Possibly before the Feb. 10 trade deadline, more probably in a sign-and-trade next offseason, but things are changing.
A big part of that is the Wizards’ current slump — or maybe this is just who they are.
After starting the season 10-3 and looking like the runaway winners of the Russell Westbrook trade (and they still may be), the team has gone 13-24, sliding down to 12th in the East, a game out of even the last play-in spot. The Wizards are a bottom 10 offensive and defensive team this season.
Beal has said he wants to create his own legacy in Washington, but this season has left Beal disillusioned and questioning if the Wizards can ever put the players around him he needs to win in D.C., report David Aldridge and Joshua Robins of The Athletic.
The team’s nosedive since its hot start has frustrated Beal, leaving him less sanguine about just taking the big bag next summer and staying in Washington. For the first time in a long time, sources close to Beal indicate he’s not rejecting out of hand the notion of trade elsewhere — even though his preference is to remain with the Wizards. Neither Beal nor his representatives, though, have officially asked for him to be moved with a week left before the deadline.
The Wizards put a four-year, $181 million extension offer in front of Beal, but he has not signed it while saying he is being selfish this season for the first time in his career. If he plays out this season, becomes a free agent then re-signs with Washington, he could get five years, $242 million.
If Beal is traded before the deadline, those same figures would apply to his new team. If he leaves as a free agent, even via a sign-and-trade, the most he can get is four years, $179 million.
This is where Washington owner Ted Leonsis enters the story — he has long refused to bottom out and rebuild solely through the draft. He wants to make the playoffs every year, and he wants to build around Beal. Trading Beal for young players and a boatload of picks — as many teams would try to do — is not an option for Leonsis’ Wizards.
Which is why a Beal for Ben Simmons trade is interesting as a talking point. Beal is one of the players on 76ers’ GM Daryl Morey’s list of players he’d take back in a Simmons trade. Washington would be an interesting fit for Simmons. Simmons as the primary shot creator with shooting from Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rui Hachimura and others — plus a big man who can roll inside — could be the foundation of a good team.
However, a Beal for Simmons trade seems a long shot right now because the Wizards want another promising young player from Philly in the deal, according to the report.
But the 76ers won’t include an additional piece, such as exciting young guard Tyrese Maxey, along with Simmons in a potential trade for Beal, per league sources. Philly has similarly held firm that it won’t put third-year forward Matisse Thybulle, a terrific wing defender, in a Simmons package.
There are a lot of moving parts, and a lot of minds to change, to make a Beal for Simmons trade happen in a little over a week. Never say never in this league, but Morey himself put the odds of any Simmons trade below 50% and that seems accurate.
Still, this is more movement toward a Beal trade — and maybe a Simmons trade — than we have seen in a while. Things can move fast around the deadline, and it could be the case here where something comes together quickly.