Bradley Beal is leaving the Washington Wizards for the first time in his career. Beal has been traded to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Chris Paul, Landry Shamet, second round picks, and pick swaps, according to insiders Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania.
Beal joins a loaded Suns team built around Kevin Durant and Devin Booker. Phoenix also retains center Deandre Ayton in this deal, and now there will be speculation that he could be dealt later this summer to bolster the team’s depth.
Beal had a rare no-trade clause in his contract that essentially let him pick his destination. Washington did not get much back for him other than salary relief. Paul will likely be cut and join the free agent market since he has a partially guaranteed contract for next season.
Suns grade: B
The Suns aren’t giving up much in this trade. Paul’s body annually breaks down in the playoffs, and at age-38 he can no longer be counted on to be a major part of a contender. They are essentially getting Beal for only money. Suns CEO Josh Bartelstein happens to be the son of Bradley Beal’s agent Mark Bartelstein.
Beal turns 30 before next season, and has only played 90 games combined over the last two seasons because of injuries. His last elite season was 2020-21 when he averaged 31.3 points per game, but his scoring has leveled off to around 23 points per game the last two years. He now becomes the most overqualified third option in the league, and will help alleviate the pressure Booker and Durant felt in last season’s playoffs to carry the entirety of the Suns’ offense. A 6’4 off-guard, Beal is a career 37.2 percent shooter from three-point range and adds another potent offensive player to Phoenix’s core.
The Suns still have plenty of questions to answer. The Suns’ biggest issue in the playoffs was a lack of depth. Phoenix now has about $163 million in salary committed to Booker, Durant, Beal, and Ayton for next season, well above the luxury tax, which will make ensuing roster moves more difficult to pull off. Beal has never been considered a plus defender, and that makes him a rough fit next to Booker and Durant on that end of the floor.
The big question for Phoenix is if they can keep Booker, Durant, and Beal all healthy throughout the playoffs. That’s going to be difficult given the lack of durability all three have shown in recent years. The Suns now need to find role players for cheap to fill out the roster, and that’s a dangerous game. Phoenix may have been wiser going for improved depth instead of trying to land a third star.
At the same time, Phoenix didn’t give up anything of value for Beal other than ownership’s money. Beal has four years, $207.6 million remaining on his contract, and his no-trade clause comes with him. If Beal fails to deliver with Phoenix, it will be extremely hard for the Suns to move off him. It’s a bold move by the Suns, but it does not fix all their problems.
Wizards grade: D+
The Wizards probably could have traded Beal for a boatload of assets a couple years ago. Instead, they signed him to a max contract he couldn’t live up to, gave him a ridiculous no-trade clause, and eventually dumped him for nothing. Washington did not get one asset of value other than the second round picks in this trade, which is pretty shocking.
Washington cleaned house in the front office earlier this offseason, and the new group led by former Clippers executive Michael Winger is set to tear this thing down. Tanking to the bottom of the league feels like a wiser move than competing for the play-in tournament every year. Winger and Co. had a mess to clean up from their predecessors, and their hands were tied by Beal’s no-trade clause. They got nothing back for Beal, but it’s also hard to think they could have done any better.
The Wizards will likely be competing for the first pick in the 2024 NBA Draft next season, but there’s no one on the level of Victor Wembanyama looming as a potential franchise savior. Instead, the race for the top pick in next year’s draft is viewed as being wide open.
Expect Kyle Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis to be traded next. Washington picked a direction, and that was a smart move. It’s still just shocking how little they actually got back for Beal even if their hands were tied.