In a stunning development, though you shouldn’t put anything past the Spurs’ front office, the Wizards have received considerable interest in their No. 3 pick. If they keep the pick, it will likely turn into Bradley Beal. If they opt to trade their pick, it will probably turn into Bradley Beal anyway.
The Spurs, devoid a first-round pick, join Oklahoma City, Denver and Atlanta in their pursuit of the 19-year-old and his supposedly prodigal shooting stroke. Given his description and comparison to Ray Allen, you’d be surprised that Beal only shot 33.9% from behind the arc though that can be attributed to his tendency to defer to Kenny Boyton and Erving Walker.
San Antonio is at an inherent disadvantage because they don’t have a first-round pick. Oklahoma City, if they so choose, can package James Harden in a deal and guarantee their chance of acquiring Beal. It’s that simple, really, but I doubt they break up their core for an unproven prospect that has drawn some comparisons to Eric Gordon. If Beal pans out, the value of his rookie contract will be inestimable. Oklahoma City would be able to compete for championships at an abbreviated price, leaving them unscathed while other luxury tax paying teams will suffer from the new punitive tax.
It’s Spurs’ general manager R.C Buford’s prudence and ability to sniff out valuable players for cheap contracts that could allow the Spurs to acquire Beal in a draft day deal. Kawhi Leonard is entering his second season with four years remaining (AAV: $2.83 million) and two team options. Despite Leonard’s insipid personality, he provides any team with excellent defense, shooting, energy, rebounding and basketball IQ. He is a huge asset. Tiago Splitter tailed off in the postseason but paying one of the most effective pick-and-roll weapons under $4 million is also pretty valuable.
Now let’s examine the pro’s and con’s of trading for Beal.
Pro’s. The Spurs could potentially acquire a bonafide scoring weapon on the perimeter, giving them a luxury that most teams do not have. Oklahoma City is one of those teams and that facet of their team stymied the Spurs’ already lacking defense. Beal’s rookie scale contract will become exceedingly valuable as he acclimates himself into the NBA.
Considering Beal’s shooting stroke is conduce to an elite 3-point percentage and he can run the pick-and-roll capably, the Spurs will be able to spread the floor and still maintain the threat of penetration. San Antonio would create an offense with a paucity of flaws and the omnipresence of damage from the perimeter and, if Tim Duncan holds up, the interior. Beal would instantly be an offensive threat. The same cannot be said for Kawhi Leonard, Tiago Splitter, Matt Bonner etc, all of which have limited offensive repertoires.
Con’s. Washington will require a lot in return for the No. 3 pick. Do the Spurs really believe that Beal is worth the risk of ravaging an already successful crop of rotation players? The potential fallout of trading a package of Kawhi, Splitter and Bonner would be immense.
There are other trade possibilities, of course, the majority of which I hope don’t contain Kawhi. If San Antonio trades up to the second pick, they could take Tyrus Thomas’ three-year contract (worth approximately $26.1 million) in exchange for Tony Parker. But that would severely deplete the point guard position. Relying on a combination of Manu, Beal, Neal and Mills (if he re-signs) to handle the ball isn’t as appealing as Parker.
Even if R.C. Buford leverages himself into a favorable deal (and I wouldn’t doubt his ability to do so) San Antonio would still be losing someone of tangible value. Should Spurs fans be comfortable with such a blatant risk-reward move?