The frustration between Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards could potentially reach a boiling point.
Beal is tired of the team not having a winning culture, despite John Wall’s absence, and being in the midst of a rebuild. Washington is 15-29, and although Beal signed an extension just months ago, when players start going public with their frustrations, most of the time things do not get better.
Beal’s extension has him signed through 2022, with a player option worth $37.3 million for the 2022-23 season.
Yes, Beal could be a bit of a risk for the Hawks given the shorter time commitment. There is a good chance it is in the team’s best interest to allow their young team to grow organically, but with ownership reportedly frustrated with the team’s current record, and a lack of quality free agents available this offseason, Beal is one of the few stars that could be available that are young enough for the Hawks’ window.
Taking a chance on short-term commitments seems to be more prevalent in the NBA nowadays, especially after the Raptors made the gamble of a lifetime to acquire Kawhi Leonard for a year, which resulted in the first championship in the franchise’s history. This past offseason, the Clippers mortgaged their future for a shot at teaming up Paul George, and Leonard as well.
The Hawks aren’t in quite the same position as the Clippers and Raptors were when they made these deals, but they will have the most cap space in the NBA, and an excellent young core to surround him with. Beal could be the kickstart that ownership seems to desperately want. With that being said, the team may also feel that such a move may only be worth it if they decide to make a corresponding addition as well.
Beal would add another legitimate scorer alongside Trae Young. He is entering his prime and averaging a career-best 27.8 points per game.
The former Florida Gator could be a legitimate trade option on draft night. Outside of James Wiseman and Anthony Edwards, none of the top prospects are ideal fits for the Hawks, and the class is top-heavy. The top three prospects outside of that range are the talented point guard trio of Lamelo Ball, Cole Anthony, and Tyrese Haliburton. If the Hawks’ pick falls beyond the top two, they may start considering a trade package with Washington.
Atlanta clearly does not have a need at point guard. Sure, the Wizards have John Wall, but he has had significant injury issues, and given the Wizards are in the midst of a rebuild, if they decide to ultimately deal Beal, it may make sense to move Wall as well. They can try to continue to build around that duo, but to this point, it hasn’t been able to get them out of the early rounds of the playoffs. From the Wizards’ perspective, they could potentially add two more top ten picks during a rebuild.
Another factor to consider would be the eventual cost to retain Beal. If he stays with the Wizards, he would be eligible to sign the largest contract in NBA history after opting out of his player option, given he would have ten years of experience. That deal would be worth five years for $266 million and might become an incentive for the Wizards to move Beal eventually. It could also be a deterrent for the Hawks given their window.
This article is not to say acquiring Beal is the right or wrong move; it is purely theoretical. The Hawks’ pick could end up landing outside the top 5. Beal has not requested any sort of trade, and it may just be a speed bump between him and the franchise. But given Atlanta can absorb a ton of cap, this is a route they will at least have to entertain if there are any more complications between Beal and the Wizards. It would likely be a short-term fix, but if the Hawks have a shot at bringing in an additional star, they may decide to strike early. He may very well be the biggest difference-maker available via trade. Just a little something for Hawks fans to keep tucked in the back of their heads as the season winds down.