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Trade Packages and Landing Spots for Wizards Guard Bradley Beal

Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 27, 2021

Washington Wizards' Bradley Beal reacts during the fourth quarter of the team's NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Houston. (Carmen Mandato/Pool Photo via AP)
Carmen Mandato/Associated Press

Bradley Beal dropped 33 points Tuesday, making him the sixth player in NBA history to go for at least 25 in each of his first 12 games of a season.

He's averaging 34.4, which would be the fifth-highest mark for an individual player in the three-point era.

The problem, of course, is that the numbers are coming in losses. The Washington Wizards are now 3-10. Tuesday, it was a 107-88 beatdown at the hands of former teammate John Wall and the Houston Rockets that had Beal looking dejected down the stretch.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Bradley Beal was going through it on the bench. https://t.co/OFLbkdbVMe

Washington and Beal have long held that they intend to remain loyal to each other.

"I hate change," Beal told The Undefeated's Marc Spears in March. "If it happens, it happens. But if I can control it, I will finish in D.C."

The organization, for its part, has reciprocated.

"Brad absolutely has been committed to us," general manager Tommy Sheppard told 106.7 The Fan in November. "Last summer, he signed an extension with us. I think we're absolutely committed to him."

Time and losses can change things in the NBA. And Washington, despite (or maybe because of) the addition of Russell Westbrook, has been flat-out bad this season.

The play-in tournament at the end of the campaign is still within reach, but it's hard to imagine much more than that. And if the Wizards want to kick-start a rebuild, they could do so by dealing Beal.

After seeing the hauls received by the New Orleans Pelicans and Rockets for Jrue Holiday and James Harden, respectively, it's not hard to imagine teams lining up for Beal.

If Washington puts him on the market, here are some potential landing spots.

       

Denver Nuggets

The Deal: Michael Porter Jr., Gary Harris, Bol Bol and a 2021 first-round pick for Bradley Beal

First off, this isn't a no-brainer for either side.

Michael Porter Jr. is averaging 18.4 points in just 28.4 minutes. He looks like a game-changing shooter. And getting that from a power forward opens up the floor in a way shooting from a guard doesn't.

"From Denver's perspective, trading for Beal means including rookie Michael Porter Jr.," the Denver Post's Mike Singer wrote in October. "That's a non-starter for the Nuggets, who are highly unlikely to part with Porter unless they get a superstar in return, according to a league source."

Porter is rewarding Denver for its faith in him, but the implication that Beal is not a superstar is looking weaker by the game.

Even as the losses pile up, it's clear Beal is one of the game's very best scorers. And though the 27-year-old is five years older than Porter, he's still on roughly the same timeline as Nikola Jokic (26 in February) and Jamal Murray (24 in February).

There's a world in which Porter has a higher long-term ceiling than Beal, but Denver may be ready to compete for titles now. Beal helps more on that front.

For Washington, this deal gives it one of the most promising young forwards in the league to play alongside Rui Hachimura. The Wizards can sell hope to the fanbase with that generally interchangeable forward combo.

Bol Bol offers plenty of intrigue too as a potential three-and-D center who can stretch the floor on one end and protect the rim on the other.

Finally, there's Gary Harris, who's mostly here for salary-matching purposes. This deal is more about what the team will look like after he and Westbrook's contracts expire.

As for the lack of multiple first-round picks (which Houston and New Orleans scored for their star guards), MPJ (and to an extent Bol) makes up that gap. Neither the Rockets nor the Pelicans received a young prospect who'd shown near as much as Porter.

         

Philadelphia 76ers

The Deal: Ben Simmons, a 2021 first-round pick and a 2023 first-round pick (top-10 protected) for Bradley Beal

This is another deal that's more about the prospect than the draft capital, and Ben Simmons might move the needle even more than MPJ for some.

At 24, Simmons has already made two All-Star teams, is one of the best passers in the league and is rapidly emerging as a perennial All-NBA-level defender.

His lack of shooting makes him a terrible fit alongside Westbrook, but Simmons' contract runs at least two years longer (three, if Westbrook declines his massive player option for 2022-23).

In lineups with Simmons, Hachimura, Deni Avdija and Isaac Bonga, the Wizards would have plenty of size, playmaking and switchability.

The argument for such a deal for the Philadelphia 76ers is roughly the same as the one many were making when it looked like James Harden might be headed their way.

There still seems to be plenty of untapped potential with the Simmons-Joel Embiid pairing, but it's not hard to see why some are clamoring to see Embiid surrounded with even more shooting.

Over the last two seasons, Philly is plus-4.8 points per 100 possessions with both on the floor, compared to plus-9.7 when Embiid plays without Simmons.

When the superstar big man is surrounded by a spread offense, the 76ers are a nightmare to defend. And lineups with Beal, Seth Curry, Danny Green and Tobias Harris would leave defenses with little choice but to stay home on the shooters when Embiid catches inside. And Embiid against one-on-one coverage is like asking to be dominated.

Every possession would be a predicament.

Philadelphia president Daryl Morey would surely push to give up less draft capital, but Washington will need to be incentivized to move Beal. And the 24-year-old, non-shooting Simmons probably doesn't turn back the timeline clock enough to do that.

        

New Orleans Pelicans

The Deal: Lonzo Ball, JJ Redick, a 2021 first-round pick, a 2022 first-round pick swap, a 2023 first-round pick and a 2024 first-round pick swap for Bradley Beal

This is a Rockets- or Pelicans-like package Washington could potentially land if it makes Beal available. New Orleans just piled onto an already hefty stash of draft assets when it moved Holiday to the Bucks. Redirecting much of that for Beal would be a short-term win.

The offensive fit between Beal, Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson is easy to imagine. It'd put a lot of defensive responsibility on the shoulders of Steven Adams, but that trio would likely be enough to win plenty of shootouts.

The risk for the Pelicans, of course, is that Beal can opt out of his contract after 2021-22. At that point, he'll still be on the right side of 30, which means plenty of teams would likely be interested in offering his next contract. If New Orleans isn't relatively confident in its ability to retain Beal, it'd be tough to justify parting with all those draft assets.

For Washington, this is almost entirely about the future. Earlier on Tuesday, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported that both Lonzo Ball and JJ Redick might be available, but the haul of picks would do more for the Wizards than either player.

Redick would almost certainly head elsewhere after his contract expires in 2021. Ball, on the other hand, could make some sense alongside Hachimura and Avdija long term. Washington would also have the ability to match any offer sheet Ball, a restricted free agent, might sign.

Obviously, the fit between he and Westbrook doesn't make sense. At all. But that's a concern for a later date (or possible trade).

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