NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.
I’m reluctant to declare whether a team should or shouldn’t trade a player. It depends on so many factors outsiders don’t know. Mainly, what are other teams offering (or demanding in salary dumps)? The return (or cost in salary dumps) is essential to any trade evaluation.
But the Wizards should have traded Bradley Beal.
Beal is a young star locked up two more seasons and plays a position, shooting guard, in demand around the league. Look at the astronomical returns Anthony Davis and Paul George generated for the Pelicans and Thunder. It’s hard to believe Beal wouldn’t have fetched something similar.
Of course, Washington would like to build around Beal. Right now, he’s saying all the right things about staying.
But the Wizards will likely stink next season. After living through that experience, will Beal actually want to stay long-term? I would’ve rather traded him this summer with an additional season on his contract than wait to find out.
That was never in the cards, especially because Washington went through key portions of the offseason without a permanent front-office leader. That was a failure of Wizards owner Ted Leonsis. He fired Ernie Grunfeld in April and didn’t remove Tommy Sheppard’s interim title until mid-July, once free agency had quieted. This is a 365-day-a-year job. Washington missed opportunities.
Sheppard’s big move was drafting Rui Hachimura No. 9. I rated Hachimura No. 25 on my board. That could just be a difference of opinion. But I fear the Sheppard – unsure of his long-term status – gravitated toward the player with major marketing upside. If Hachimura struggles, it won’t matter that he’s Japanese.
The Wizards had to get creative to form even this barely tolerable roster.
They used most of their mid-level exception on Ish Smith (two years, $12 million). He should be fine as a stop-gap starting point guard. However, I suspect many of contributions will come just through his professionalism amid a losing season.
Washington jumped into the Anthony Davis trade when the Lakers wanted to clear cap space for a run at Kawhi Leonard. The Wizards got a second-rounder for taking Moritz Wagner, Isaac Bonga and Jemerrio Jones. Washington got another young prospect, No. 42 pick Admiral Schofield, for effectively taking $1 million of dead salary from the 76ers.
These new veterans likely aren’t good enough to get the Wizards anywhere. The new young players carry only limited promise.
Washington’s short- and long-term hopes rest mostly on Beal – as long as he accepts that burden.
Offseason grade: D+
Wizards: We’ll offer Bradley Beal max contract extension, won’t trade him if he rejects it
But that’s less each season than Beal could get by playing out his current contract then re-signing. It’s even less each season than Beal could get by playing out his current contract then leaving. And it’s way less than Beal could get if he becomes eligible for a super-max deal (either an extension next offseason or re-signing in 2021) if he makes an All-NBA team either of the next two seasons.
Here are Beal’s max salaries on an extension and projected max salaries on a new contract:
*Beal’s super-max amounts would be the same on an extension next offseason or fresh contract the following year.
So, it’s hard to see Beal accepting an extension.
He’d get financial security. There’s always risk in waiting – injury, unexpected decline or something else.
But Beal is so talented and just 26. The NBA is also short on quality shooting guards. He’s in tremendous position to secure a max contract in 2021 free agency.
So, how will the Wizards react if Beal doesn’t sign right now?
If Beal passes on the extension, the Wizards have no plans to engage in trade talks with two years, $55.8 million left on his contract, Sheppard said.
“He’s got two years left on his deal, and he’s from Missouri and we are going to have to show him,” Sheppard told ESPN. “We need to show him that we are about building this the right way, that we aren’t going to have character-deficient guys around him. We are going to surround him with guys he wants to play with. He saw that right away in free agency with us bringing back Thomas Bryant.”
They’re really going to pitch him on playing with Thomas Bryant. Thomas Bryant! And I like Thomas Bryant. He was a breath of fresh air for the Wizards last season, and they re-signed him for $25 million over three years. But he’s also still just Thomas Bryant.
That’s supposed to tempt Beal to stay in Washington?
The Wizards will likely be bad next year. John Wall could miss the entire season, and his huge salary encumbered Washington’s ability to add other players. Beal has touted his loyalty to the Wizards. But after living through what will likely be a miserable season, how will he feel about Washington then?
Beal said the Wizards told him they wouldn’t trade him. Sheppard has now gone public with that message.
But Washington also pledged not to trade Otto Porter then dealt him to the Bulls a week later. Plans change. Sometimes, there’s posturing for negotiating position.
There’s still plenty left to unfold. Beal isn’t even yet eligible for an extension. Maybe he’ll shock me and sign one this summer.
If not, the Wizards likely face an uphill battle for keeping him happy enough to stay in 2021 free agency.
Report: Wizards re-signing Thomas Bryant to three-year, $25 million contract
Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.
1) Devin Booker tells a courtside fan he’s going for 50, then does it… just ignore how the Suns keep losing. Devin Booker had 30 points in the first half against Washington, and told a fan sitting courtside “I’m going for 50.”
At age 22, Phoenix’s Devin Booker has become the youngest player in NBA history with back-to-back 50 point games — after dropping 59 on the Jazz Monday, he turned around Wednesday night and had 50 more against the Wizards.
Only nine other players in NBA history have had consecutive 50-point games and it’s some impressive company: James Harden, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Bernard King, Antawn Jamison, Allen Iverson, Rick Barry, Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor.
Booker has three 50-point games in his career — and has become the first player in NBA history to lose his first three of those games.
The latest loss came because Washington’s Thomas Bryant hit the game-winner with 2.8 seconds left after taking the pass from a triple-teamed Bradley Beal.
The Suns are an objectively bad basketball team — even with Booker entertaining us — that has a bottom 10 offense and a defense that is even worse. There is some potential there with Booker, the addition of Kelly Oubre Jr. on the wing, plus Deandre Ayton putting up numbers in the paint and improving defensively. Other players such as T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson might fill roles on the team.
The Suns need more talent. And a direction/identity. The question is who is going to have the job of bringing in that talent and setting the course? Suns owner Robert Saver fired GM Ryan McDonough at an odd time in the calendar, then replaced him with the confusing duo of James Jones and Trevor Bukstein. The Suns are looking for a new GM — hopefully one that can manage the melding Sarver, although good luck with that — and what that ultimately means for the fate of coach Igor Kokoskov is unknown.
The only thing we know is Booker is putting on a heck of a show.
If he can average 35.2 points per game over the Suns’ final six (211 total points) he will pass Tom Chambers for the highest single-season scoring average in franchise history. It’s an entertaining thing for Suns fans to watch while ignoring the losses.
2) Thunder use a 24-0 third-quarter run to beat Pacers on a night Paul George drops 31. Indiana was the better team in this Wednesday night matchup, moving the ball, defending well, generally looking like more of a team…
Except for one 6:45 stretch of the third quarter. But that stretch was a 24-0 Oklahoma City run that defined the game.
The Pacers shot 0-of-14 in that stretch while the Thunder got 4-of-5 shooting inside from Steven Adams. Paul George had seven of his 31 on the night during the run.
The Thunder needed the win, having lost 4-of-5 coming in. The victory keeps them as the seven seed in the bunched-up West, just one game back of five-seed Utah. The Thunder are now three back of the four-seed Rockets and home court in the first round of the playoffs, but with seven games remaining OKC is not going to make up that ground.
What the Thunder need is to get some momentum and find their groove again — led by Paul George playing like an MVP again — heading into the playoffs. That third-quarter stretch helped with that.
3) Mike Conley makes history, becomes Grizzlies all-time leading scorer. Mike Conley is going to go down as the greatest Grizzly ever. Some day his jersey will hang in the rafters of the FedEx Forum.
On Wednesday night he made a little history. With a catch-and-shoot corner three in the second quarter, Conley scored his 11,687th point as a member of the Grizzlies moving him past Marc Gasol on Memphis’ all-time scoring list.
The one that made @mconley11 our all-time leading scorer 👌
Conley is all over the Grizzlies’ record books. He is also the Memphis all-time leader in assists, three-pointers, steals, and games played. Only two other players lead a franchise in all those categories: LeBron James (Cavaliers) and Reggie Miller (Pacers).
Conley’s name is going to come up in a lot of trade discussion this summer and Memphis has gone all-in on a rebuild, but whatever happens he will forever be associated with the Grizzlies and that franchise.