Bradley Beal's potential All-NBA scenario leads league sources toward trade route originally appeared on nbcsportswashington.com
With an All-NBA nod, Bradley Beal and the Wizards would almost immediately find themselves at a crossroads.
The honor would make him eligible for the supermax contract, which could force the Wizards to move the two-time All-Star. The Wizards already handed one of those supermax deals to John Wall. If Beal signed a four-year, $193 million extension, the two guards would gobble up more than two-thirds of the team's salary cap space starting in 2021-22.
Everyone knows of Washington's immediate concern. Wall faces a year-long recovery after suffering a ruptured left Achilles heel in February. Even with a prompt return, the Wizards cannot realistically plan on having the five-time All-Star next season.
Based on the injury and Wall turning 30, Wall's level of effectiveness in 2020-21 remains unclear. Ideally, he looks the part for at least the final two years of the contract.
Hold out for Wall's healthy return and the clock may run out on the two years remaining on Beal's current contract with no guarantee the shooting guard re-signs. Therefore, with the Wizards retooling after a 32-50 season and regardless of the All-NBA result, the answer is clear according to numerous league sources: Trade Bradley Beal for assets and salary cap space.
So where would he go?
That might depend.
Can New Orleans convince the disgruntled big man to reverse course on his trade demands? We'll see if that happens, but the Pelicans' current A, B and C plan involves rolling out Davis, projected No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson and Jrue Holiday next season, according to sources.
How this drama plays out affects the entire NBA off-season. Every team would welcome Davis, but only a few have the realistic assets to acquire one the league's top players. Some franchises stockpiled draft picks and players on rookie contracts for this moment. If the Pelicans keep Davis, a 2020 free agent, those teams must turn elsewhere.
No, that doesn't mean Bradley Beal automatically.
"As good as Bradley Beal is, he isn't Anthony Davis," one GM told NBC Sports Washington. "Beal isn't an alternative to Davis, but to free agency."
Beal has $56 million coming his way over the final two years of his current contract. Signing any of the 2019 free agent headliners would cost much more in terms of dollars and salary cap space.
76ers guard Jimmy Butler, a relative peer of Beal albeit four years older, is in line for a max contract of 5-year, $190 million with Philadelphia or 4-year, $141 with another team.
If there's a trade involving Beal this off-season, logic suggests, from the Wizards perspective, it occurs before or during the June 20 NBA Draft.
Beal's trade value on the current contract will likely never be higher. Since 2019 draft picks would probably be part of any deal, and the new general manager will want to make those selections.
A look at the landscape:
Lakers -- All the Davis trade buzz last season focused on Los Angeles since his camp made it clear that's where he wanted to land. The potential also worked since the Lakers asset class held great appeal. That is until the group largely plateaued during a dysfunctional season, the first Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma or Josh Hart played with LeBron James.
One general manager suggested not to diminish the upside on those players, contending the Lakers still have the best trade assets. "That's what they look like in that environment -- and playing with that guy," the GM told NBC Sports Washington.
If there's a deal with the Lakers, most sources would want Ball involved regardless of any parent distractions from his attention-seeking father, Lavar. "People just don't grasp how good he is," a source said.
Los Angeles owns the fourth pick in the 2019 Draft. One source views Ingram, Kuzma and four for Beal as fair value assuming Ingram, the No. 2 overall pick in 2016, is cleared medically following a blood clot scare that ended his season prematurely.
Knicks -- New York likely would want to wait for Kevin Durant to sign in free agency as the long-running rumors suggest. Then the question is who gets the second max slot.
Kyrie Irving? Certainly possible. We know the Celtics are out. One source said don't sleep on the Nets getting involved.
Kemba Walker is a New York native. The All-NBA candidate is also someone the Hornets might do whatever it costs to keep.
There's also Beal, who would make a great fit next to a fellow perimeter threat in Durant.
The Knicks' assets include the third pick in 2019, which is a projected tier above the fourth slot since it means landing no less than Duke guard RJ Barrett. New York also has impressive rookie center Mitchell Robinson, point guard Dennis Smith and an unprotected first-round pick from Dallas that projects to convey in 2021.
If the Knicks decline to part with Robinson and three, the Wizards would have to consider Barrett, the top recruit in the 2018 class and Duke's leading scorer, a future All-Star. They might.
Celtics -- The bond between Beal and Jayson Tatum began growing up in St. Louis. They could be connected again if Washington and Boston talk trade.
The Celtics own three first-round selections -- 14, 20, 22 -- in next month's draft along with two former top 5 picks on rookie deals: Tatum and Jaylon Brown.
"Tatum's stock took a hit this season," an Eastern Conference scout said. Others made similar claims during the season as the playmaking forward appeared lost at times playing with Irving. Regardless, Tatum is a talented 21-year-old who went head-to-head against LeBron James in the 2018 Eastern Conference Final.
"Tatum and 22 for Beal? Brown and 20? That's something to consider," the scout said.
The Wizards have plenty to consider over the next few weeks including whether to trade Bradley Beal.
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