It seems as though everyone in NBA media feels sorry for Bradley Beal.
The Wizards All-Star is playing sensational basketball, averaging a league-leading 34 points per game, but his brilliance hasn’t translated to wins in the slightest. The Wizards currently sit at 3-11, the worst record in the league. The addition of an aging Russell Westbrook hasn’t helped the team’s productivity, and it’s seeming less and less likely that Washington will ever be able to form a squad that can help Beal to the postseason. A trade is looking more eminent by the day.
ESPN’s First Take shared their preferred Beal trade destinations yesterday, and Stephen A. Smith chose an intriguing yet unrealistic landing spot.
“If there’s any way the Clippers could get themselves Bradley Beal to pair with Paul George and Kawhi Leonard,” Smith suggested, “you do it because I think that’s their chance at coming out of the West.”
Sure, why not? Beal would be a great fit on any team. His shooting prowess and ability to move off the ball make him an ideal trade candidate for any contender. The Clippers would have to do a bit of lineup shuffling (either force Beal into a point-guard role or slide Leonard or George up to power forward, which neither have been wont to do in the past), but there’s no reason these three stars couldn’t coexist and thrive.
The problem, which Max Kellerman touched on in response to Smith’s proposition, is that the Clippers have absolutely nothing of value to send back to Washington. The Paul George trade has left their asset collection barren as they either owe their first-round pick or are required to swap it with Oklahoma City for the next six years. After the massive haul that the Houston Rockets collected for James Harden, who is older than Beal and actually demanded a trade, the Wizards are going to ask for the kitchen sink from anyone interested in trading for their home-grown superstar. There may be clips of Beal expressing frustration and pouting on the bench, but until he and his representation make it publicly known that he no longer wants to play in Washington, the Wizards can hold out for the best offer.
If Houston received three first-round picks and four pick swaps for Harden, there’s no reason Washington can’t ask for something in the same ballpark for Beal. Some teams can make this godfather offer, but the Clippers simply can’t. It’s a nice fantasy trade, but impossible in reality.