Bradley Beal will be traded before he reaches unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2021, it’s just a question of when – as there is currently only a small market that could swing a deal for the All-Star sharpshooter.
The most likely scenario is Beal getting dealt next summer, as that is when the Wizards could make the 2-guard the hottest commodity on the market. Next summer will not be nearly as crazy in free agency, but the trade market could prove to provide several blockbusters.
Only one team can win the NBA title each year, of course, and right now there are about 10 teams that believe they have a legitimate shot at bringing home the Larry O.B..
If, for instance, the Sixers fall short of a title this season – they will be in a mad rush to upgrade and tinker. Ben Simmons fans don’t want to hear it, but if Elton Brand realizes that the Sixers’ cannot be championship material with Joel Embiid as the 1 and Simmons as the 1A, it will be Simmons that gets shipped out of town.
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Simmons was consistently mentioned in trade rumors last season, and the contract extension he signed this summer was not much more than a formality. Brand would have been nuts to not add years onto Simmons’ contract as – at the very least – it makes him more valuable in a trade as he’s entering the prime of his career.
Beal’s game would flow beautifully with Embiid’s, whereas there’s still a bit of a square peg in round hole scenario going on with the Embiid – Simmons tag team.
Another team that figures to be busy on the trade market this winter and next summer are the Celtics, who can dangle Memphis’ first round pick in any deal. Making the money work would be tricky for Boston though, without having to give up Gordon Hayward in a swap.
Danny Ainge is ruthlessly realistic when it comes to championship roster building, and he has to know that the way the C’s are currently constructed – they won’t be dancing come next June.
Boston still has one more move to make.
It will be interesting to see if Ainge sees what happened to Team USA (led in part by Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart) this summer as a sign that the new-look Celtics aren’t quite championship material.
There have been murmurs that Washington covets Brown, but a straight-up Brown for Beal swap would not work under the salary cap. The Celtics would also need to surrender Hayward, and while his value is perceived as being shot right now, he will be hitting free agency himself come the summer of 2021.
The Nuggets are the third team here that could find themselves at a crossroads at this year’s deadline or next summer. Denver is known for its depth, but GM Arturas Karnisovas may soon realize that this league still rewards teams that build star-heavy superteams. Karnisovas could look to swing a Thunder – Clippers Paul George – like deal with Washington if the Nuggets look like they’re still runner-up material this season.