Bradley Beal Trade Rumors: NBA Execs Feel Wizards Need to Get Out of Star's Contract

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 18, 2022

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 2: Bradley Beal #3 of the Washington Wizards looks on during the game against the Charlotte Hornets on December 2, 2022 at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

Bradley Beal might only be one year into his five-year, $251 million supermax extension, but some are already positing the Washington Wizards should consider moving on from their top star.

ESPN's Zach Lowe reported on his Lowe Post podcast he canvassed some opinions about Beal's trade value as it relates to a package of Los Angeles Lakers star Russell Westbrook and draft picks.

Lowe said at the 21:26 mark that some bristled at the idea, but others believe Washington should accept whatever package it can get in order to shed Beal's contract from its payroll.

The Athletic's Jovan Buha reported Beal is one of three notable names the Lakers have considered in an "ultimate pie-in-the-sky scenario."

The Wizards experienced the worst-case scenario for a supermax contract with John Wall.

Wall signed a four-year, $170 million extension in July 2017 and saw his career derailed by injuries shortly thereafter. When Washington dealt its one-time franchise cornerstone in December 2020, it had to include a future first-round pick in order to acquire Russell Westbrook from the Houston Rockets.

With Beal, he hasn't suffered any injury as significant as Wall's ruptured Achilles tendon in 2019, but the missed games are beginning to add up.

The three-time All-Star was out for 42 contests in 2021-22 and eventually underwent season-ending wrist surgery. Already this year, he has picked up a hamstring strain that forced him to sit out the last six games.

It seems fair to wonder whether Beal's durability will become a bigger issue as he gets deeper into his deal.

There's also the fact the Wizards are on track to miss the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons. At 11-19, they're 12th in the Eastern Conference.

Washington couldn't put together a deep postseason run when it paired Wall and Beal together, and the franchise's fortunes haven't changed much with Beal as the sole focal point. Sooner or later, the front office might have to wipe the slate clean.

General manager Tommy Sheppard would probably have a hard time selling the deal floated by Lowe to the fanbase. Westbrook is clearly past his prime, and pointing to the hypothetical value of draft picks doesn't work as well for a team that just selected Johnny Davis 10th overall. The Wizards sent Davis to their NBA G League affiliate to further his development.

But there's a plausible scenario in which Beal's trade value doesn't improve much from here. Not to mention, the 29-year-old holds all of the cards thanks to his full no-trade clause.

The likelihood of Beal getting moved before the Feb. 9 trade deadline is probably low because it would represent a stunning about-face.

However, Lowe's report underlines how Beal's long-term future in the nation's capital remains a divisive topic.