Wizards' Bradley Beal on Trade Rumors: 'I Look at It as a Sign of Respect'

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 29, 2020

Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) gestures during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks, Friday, March 6, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal said Friday he views trade rumors in a positive light.

"It's not the first time I've heard this kind of talk," Beal told ESPN's Jackie MacMullan. "It's interesting. To me, I look at it as a sign of respect, that I've been doing good things and guys want to play with me."

Last week, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reported the Brooklyn Nets had "internally discussed avenues" they could use to acquire the two-time NBA All-Star from the Wizards.

Beal explained to MacMullan it's a prospect that excites him, though he wasn't sure about the speculation's validity:

"That's an unbelievable feeling. When you hear that Kyrie [Irving] and KD [Kevin Durant] want you, s--t, that's amazing. At the same time, you don't know how much there is to it, or how easy it would be to do. And I've put down roots in D.C. I've dedicated myself to this town, this community. I love it here, and it would feel great to know I could grind out winning here instead of jumping to another team. But I'd be naive to say that I don't think about it when these stories come up."

Beal was forced to carry the Wizards' offense on his shoulders with backcourt running mate John Wall sidelined by a ruptured Achilles.

The 26-year-old University of Florida product responded with his best statistical season to date. He averaged 30.5 points, second in the NBA to the Houston Rockets' James Harden (34.4), 6.1 assists and 4.2 rebounds across 57 appearances before play was halted March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Washington's struggles as a whole continued, however. They posted a 24-40 record to rank ninth in the Eastern Conference. The NBA's rumored return-to-play plans could give the franchise a reprieve, giving them a chance to earn a postseason berth through a play-in tournament.

"My biggest thing right now is that I want to play with John [Wall] again," Beal told MacMullan. "I want to see him get back to that level where I know he can be, especially since my game has grown so much [while he's been out]. What can we accomplish together? I'm so happy he's healthy, working his tail off."

That said, joining Durant, who's sat out the entire 2019-20 season to date with his own Achilles injury, and Irving in Brooklyn during the offseason would vault the Nets into title contention.

The Wizards haven't advanced beyond the conference semifinals during the Wall-Beal era, a drought that actually extends to their appearance in the 1979 NBA Finals. They may want to give the star backcourt tandem one more chance to reverse that trend before breaking up the core.

But if the rebuild in D.C. begins, it sounds like the Nets will be at the front of the line trying to create the NBA's newest Big Three.