But that commitment to the Wizards hasn’t and won’t stop other teams from pursuing him.
The 76ers did their due diligence with the Wizards on Beal throughout the season, but many across the NBA say it was much more than that. Multiple sources said the 76ers worked during the season on a potential trade. Beal faced a decision on whether to force a trade out of Washington and Philadelphia had prominent interest at the deadline if he was cleared to play from his wrist injury. The 76ers’ package would have been centered around Simmons and draft picks, sources said.
However, the Heat are seen as a legitimate suitor for Beal should he elect to seek a new home, multiple sources said.
Instead of landing Beal, Philadelphia traded Ben Simmons for James Harden. Afterward, 76ers president Daryl Morey said on the “Rights to Ricky Sanchez” podcast: “We had one other – I would call it almost a very good option that we liked … Pretty heavily explored maybe three or four days out and then, for reasons that would reveal who I’m talking about, I can’t really say why it sort of shifted, but it shifted.”
Two days before the trade deadline, the Wizards announced Beal was undergoing season-ending surgery.
Maybe Beal would be in Philadelphia if he didn’t get hurt and the 76ers didn’t deal for Harden. There were some ominous signals about a Beal trade. But the Wizards want to keep Beal, and he hasn’t forced them to go another direction. Morey could have easily been overstating how close the trade got – or have been referring to a different player entirely.
Miami would be another reasonable-looking option. Beal has been linked to the Heat for years. They could assemble a sign-and-trade involving Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro and/or recently freed first-round picks. Miami could also try for an opt-in-and-trade, which – unlike a sign-and-trade – wouldn’t trigger a hard cap but would probably involve tampering. The Heat are adept at pursuing stars and navigating those difficulties.
Of course, this could wind up like all the other times teams chased Beal – with him him staying in Washington.