Bradley Beal Talks 2012 Trade That Would've Sent Him to Thunder for James Harden

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 25, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC -  NOVEMBER 2: Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook #0 and Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal #3 share a laugh during the game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Washington Wizards on November 2, 2018 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC. 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 2018 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Bradley Beal apparently almost played alongside Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

During an appearance on All The Smoke with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, Beal discussed a potential trade scenario that unfolded on draft night in 2012. While the Washington Wizards ultimately selected Beal with the No. 3 pick, the shooting guard said his agent told him the Thunder explored trading James Harden for that selection (27:20 mark; video contains profanity):

The University of Florida product was surprised because he only worked out for the Wizards, Cleveland Cavaliers and Charlotte Hornets and did not know OKC was so interested in him.

Harden was not a league MVP and one of the best players in the NBA at the time and instead came off the bench and anchored the second unit with the Thunder.

Oklahoma City eventually traded him to the Houston Rockets and created one of the most memorable NBA what-ifs in recent history given Harden's ascent into superstardom. Had the Thunder kept him, perhaps they would have won a championship and toppled the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 Western Conference Finals after building a 3-1 lead.

This potential trade involving Beal is also a fascinating what-if.

While he isn't at Harden's level, Beal is a two-time All-Star who can take over a game at a moment's notice. He is averaging 30.5 points, 6.1 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game this season and is someone who could have played alongside Durant and Westbrook because of his shooting ability.

It is not difficult to envision him drilling open three-pointers on the wing when Westbrook collapsed and the defense swung toward Durant, and his scoring prowess also could have put the Thunder ahead of the Warriors in the Western Conference pecking order.

Alas, Washington turned down the trade that would have sent Beal and Chris Singleton to the Rockets for Harden, which meant owner Ted Leonsis did not have to pay Harden's contract as he eventually hit his prime.

Of course, making that trade would have given the Wizards someone who developed into a league MVP and scoring machine, perhaps changing their fate as well with John Wall as a potential backcourt mate.