What will Bradley Beal decide to do? And how much interest do the 76ers have in become a landing spot for the Washington Wizards standout?
Back in July, the shooting guard was one of the players the Sixers coveted in a Ben Simmons trade. Now, sources indicate the team is all-in on Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden even if it means prolonging the Simmons saga until this summer.
But the Wizards have a decision to make on Beal’s future ahead on the Feb. 10 trade deadline. That’s because Beal reportedly remains conflicted about whether he wants to remain in Washington.
On one hand, there’s a desire to remain with the organization that selected him third overall in the 2012 NBA draft. And there’s a financial incentive to do so.
The All-NBA third-teamer could opt out of the final year of his contract in July and re-sign with the Wizards on a supermax contract of $241 million over five years.
Yet there’s also the uncertainty about whether the Wizards can surround him with enough talent to become a regular postseason participant.
The Athletic reported Wednesday morning that there’s no indication the Wizards are seriously considering trading the three-time All-Star. But this is a tough situation for Washington to be in because Beal could opt to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and receive $180 million over four years elsewhere. Under that scenario, the Wizards would be forced to do a sign-and-trade to avoid losing him and not get anything in return.
Like in the case of Harden, the Sixers would either have to acquire Beal as a sign-and-trade or in trade before the deadline.
But The Athletic reported the Sixers aren’t willing to add point guard Tyrese Maxey or swingman Matisse Thybulle with Simmons in a potential trade for Beal. And at this time, the Wizards would be hard-pressed to get what they perceive as fair value for Beal at the trade deadline. Teams don’t want to give up too much on a player that could leave them in free agency after this season.
Plus, the Wizards haven’t changed their stance. They intend to continue to build around Beal, whose squad improved to 24-27 and snapped a six-game losing streak with Wednesday’s 106-103 victory over the Sixers (31-20) at the Wells Fargo Center.
Beal did not play Wednesday as he is sidelined with a sprained left wrist. This marks the second of at least four games he’s scheduled to miss with the injury.
The Wizards have had some tough luck when it comes to injuries and NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
Washington’s first game with a full complement of healthy players was Jan. 17 when it beat the Sixers, 117-98. Now with Beal out, the Wizards’ immediate future appears bleak as they continue to fight an uphill battle. They’ll entertain the Phoenix Suns, who have the league’s best record of 41-9, on Saturday. Then Washington will host the 32-20 Miami Heat, who have the Eastern Conference’s third-best record.
But the Wizards believe their long-term future is bright with first-year coach Wes Unseld Jr. and young players Rui Hachimura and Deni Avdija.
Still, there will be a lot of chatter about Beal’s uncertain future in Washington leading up to the trade deadline. If he remains, that chatter will pick up again heading into the free-agency period.
The three-time All-Star and Joel Embiid would be a solid pairing. Beal, who averaged 31.3 points per game last season, would be the consistent secondary scorer the Sixers desperately need.
This hasn’t been one of Beal’s best seasons. He is shooting a career-low 30% on three-pointers and his 23.2 scoring average this year is his lowest in five seasons.
But Beal can get a bucket, finish isolation plays, and take opponents off the dribble. Like Harden.
So what will Beal decide? And what will the Sixers opt to do if he becomes available?