Dec 31, 2020; Washington, DC, USA; Bradley Beal #3 of the Washington Wizards dribbles the ball against the Chicago Bulls in the first half at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rob Carr/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports
The San Antonio Spurs could make a convincing offer for Bradley Beal
With James Harden officially a member of the Brooklyn Nets, the eyes of trade conspiracy theorists everywhere are solely focused on Bradley Beal. The Washington Wizards star is one of the best players in the league stuck on one of the worst teams. Could the San Antonio Spurs swoop in the save him?
In preparation for an article he published on The Ringer, Kevin O’Connor spoke to 14 front office executives about which teams come to mind as a sleeper in the hunt for Beal. The San Antonio Spurs were one of the team’s mentioned.
San Antonio’s legendary avoidance of trades would seemingly preclude them from any deal of this magnitude but frankly, the timing couldn’t be better for the Spurs to make a move.
The Spurs have a great group of young players who have impressed us this season but the one thing that this group seems to be missing is a true superstar who can take them over the top. At times, Keldon Johnson and Lonnie Walker have looked like they could grow into consistent 20+ points per game scorers. But why settle for uncertainty when the real thing is waiting for you in Washington?
Spurs players and coaches have made it clear that returning to the playoffs isn’t just the goal, it’s the expectation. If San Antonio wants to make that a near certainty, trading for Bradley Beal is certainly one way to make that happen.
Let’s explore what the Spurs would likely have to give up to acquire Beal and what they could look like if they brought this misplaced star to the Alamo City.
Next: A monster trade offer
San Antonio Spurs wouldn’t have to mortgage their future for Bradley Beal
As salary caps continue to rise, we’re seeing a constant cycle of someone becoming the highest-paid player at their position only to be surpassed by the player next in line for a deal the next offseason. This reoccurring cycle of escalation is happening in the trade market as well.
Overpaying just isn’t a thing anymore. Look at what the Clippers gave up to acquire Paul George last summer, what the Rockets gave up for Russell Westbrook and what they received for James Harden, and what the Milwaukee Bucks had to hand over to bring in Jrue Holiday. If you want a superstar you’re going to have to pay a supersized price.
Thankfully, a trade of this magnitude wouldn’t gut the Spurs. They’ve got enough good young players and own all of their first-round picks for the next few years. They can match whatever price Washington might demand.
The Spurs would have to likely give up at least two of the group of Devin Vassell, Lonnie Walker, Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson, Derrick White, and Luka Samanic. Given the trades we’ve seen go down in the past year, we can also assume that at least three, possibly four or five, first-round picks would also be included.
It’s a lot, but it would be worth it to land Beal. There aren’t many combinations of picks and players that I think the Spurs should turn down. If a potential trade was going to cost them Vassell, Johnson, and their 2021 first-round pick I’d be hesitant but again, this is Bradley Beal we’re talking about.
Next: What Beal could bring to the Spurs
Jan 11, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) dribbles the ball against the Phoenix Suns at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Bradley Beal would make the Spurs one of the hottest teams in the West
Bradley Beal is one of the most well-rounded offensive players the NBA has to offer. He can carry a scoring load all on his own and can also provide playmaking from the two-guard spot. He’d fit well with the drive and kick offense the Spurs have been running this year.
Reducing DeMar DeRozan‘s role has brought out the best parts of his game even more, could something similar happen with Beal? He wouldn’t need to be counted on to put up 40 points per night in San Antonio. With the Spurs’ strong backcourt of playmakers, Beal could focus more on getting to his spots and getting off the best looks possible instead of functioning as a one-man army.
However, one worry would be that in trading for Beal, the Spurs may have to gut themselves of the young defenders they’ve spent the past few years developing.
The Wizards’ inability to “guard a parked car” has been a point of frustration for Beal. But with how many promising young players the Spurs have they should be able to put forward a suitable offer without totally emptying their roster. They should still be a better defensive team than the one Beal is on now even after any potential trade.
Even if San Antonio lost two or three of their young players, the ones that remain with Beal, DeRozan, and Mills should be enough to carry the Spurs back to the playoffs. And if San Antonio could hold on to their 2021 draft pick they’d be well on their way to being one of the best teams in the conference.
I know how unlikely the San Antonio Spurs trading for Bradley Beal is. Washington doesn’t want to let him go and the Spurs don’t typically make big trades. But they’ve got the assets to get it done and this is the kind of seismic move that could alter the fates of this franchise for the next decade. It would be hard to give up all these players and picks but it would be worth it.