Dec 12, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden (13) faces up against Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal (3) during the third quarter at the Toyota Center. The Rockets won 99-93. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden vs. Bradley Beal: Revisiting the Trade That Never Happened

There’s 42 days until training camp starts for the Washington Wizards. That’s 60,480 minutes and 3,628,800 seconds! What am I supposed to do for that long? Sure, I can watch football but how much “Will RG3 learn to slide?” or “Why I love/hate Kirk Cousins” can one man take?!

Watch the FIBA World Cup? Sorry, but I have no interest in watching Kyrie Irving and Mason Plumlee suit it up for Team USA. (Washington Wizards > Coach K!) Should I reflect on last season? Ehhhhh, I have to let it go. I think I’m actually going to take it a step further back and re-visit a decision the franchise made in 2012 that had major ramifications.

It was reported at the time that the Washington Wizards turned down a trade that would have sent Beal and  Singleton to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Harden, who was later dealt to the Houston Rockets. At the time it was initially reported that the trade was denied based on luxury tax implications, but that was refuted by Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis and he also recently took a chance to chide those who were critical of the Wizards passing on the reported deal. If that’s not enough reason to revisit this non-deal, then how about we’re in the middle of August and topics are tough to come by so cut me some slack!

Stop right there! Don’t even try to stick your chest out on this one. James Harden is an ELITE offensive player and an all-NBA performer.

Wow, you again. Can you at least give me a chance to state my opinion? Nobody is saying James Harden isn’t an elite offensive player, but Bradley Beal just turned 21 and is coming off a breakthrough performance in the NBA playoffs.

19.2 PPG is a breakthrough? That’s James Harden on an off night! When Bradley Beal averages 26.8 points, 4.7 assists, and 5.8 rebounds per game in a postseason we can revisit this topic.

Bradley Beal has played three less seasons than James Harden and is nearly four years younger than him.

A lot of people are younger than James Harden. YOU aren’t, but a lot are.

Whoaaa, keep it civil. Besides, 30 is the new 20.

What’s 37?

Angrier Nene with plantar fasciitis in both feet? Stay on topic. When James Harden was 20, where was he? I’ll tell you where, averaging 10 ppg on 40% shooting from the field.

You can’t assume Beal will develop into a star, which James Harden already is.

Let’s start over; here are the reasons why I still think the Washington Wizards made the right move and would not have traded Bradley Beal for James Harden. 1. Beal is on a rookie contract for two more years; 2. Beal, in his sophomore season, is coming off a playoff debut where he statistically improved in virtually every category, including career highs in scoring, assists and field goal percentage; 3. Beal is a better fit with John Wall since he can play off the ball (while also showing signs of improvement as a playmaker); and 4. Beal at least tries to play defense. As this piece so eloquently states, its about Bradley Beal and “what he could become”.

Are you quoting your own blog piece? Wow

That’s neither here or there. The poll results spoke for itself. The people were heard!

I guess re-loading and voting yes 500 times = “the people”. But I’ll continue down this path with you. Who cares if Bradley Beal is on a rookie deal, by the time we’re looking to spend in 2016 his potential extension will be kicking in.

That’s fair, but what about the roster in the interim? The Washington Wizards were right up against the cap last season; where would they have been with Harden’s max contract on the books?

I have no idea, but I do know they could have stayed under the luxury tax in ’12-’13 and put out a starting five of Wall, Harden, Trevor Ariza, Emeka Okafor, and Nene. #DC Rising would have arrived a year early!

That’s true but we have no idea what the roster would have looked like the following year.

You’re arguing hypothetically, they would have figured something out.

We’re knee deep in hypotheticals! Why stop now?!

Well why even bring up this topic unless you can say anything definitively then?

People don’t Monday morning quarterback without knowing anything definitively? Fine, I’ll just go back and build a time machine before I bother revisiting this topic again.

Good idea, you are a self-proclaimed genius. Have at it.

I will, I did take the SATs in 7th grade!

Yeah, you like to tell people that but you never tell anyone what your score was.

That’s immaterial.

Look, you’re taking a player who averaged 17.1 ppg last year and are trying to compare him to the 5th leading scorer in the NBA; in large part based on a postseason where he averages a whopping 19.2 ppg. Let’s not forget that!

He may have averaged more than 19.2 if instead of Jimmy Butler and Paul George, he was going against I don’t know….say James Harden on defense! I mean seriously, is there a WORSE defensive player in the league? I particular like when he gets backdoor cut on at the, uh wait…., that’s throughout the entire video!

Since when is defense a one man job?

He’s playing with Dwight Howard, the 3-time Defensive Player of the Year!

It doesn’t matter, if you put him into the right system and really have him focus on it, he’ll be passable on that end of the floor.

Just cause you pour syrup on “something” doesn’t make it pancakes. And his defense is “something”. Give me the guy who may actually develop into an outstanding two-way player.  What about the fit with John Wall? Would he have “broken out” (which really occurred at the end of the ’12-’13 season) if Harden was on the roster?

Who cares? Harden would be the primary option and Wall would make his life simpler by creating cleaner looks for him.

Or he would struggle playing with another ball dominant player who likely wouldn’t enjoy seeing the offense run through Wall. I mean he did just declare himself the best player in the NBA.

I was hoping you didn’t see that.

But it’s also about chemistry and the “House of Guards” seem to fit like a glove and we’re nowhere close to seeing their upside and sometimes the sum is greater than the whole of its parts.

Well where does that leave us?

I’ll concede Bradley Beal is not the player James Harden is today. With Harden, the Washington Wizards would have hands down have been a better team the past two seasons by his mere presence alone. That being said, Beal is nowhere near his potential and to assume that he’s not going to get there is as #SoWizards as trying to understand why Otto Porter didn’t play last season.

Oh, look who’s got a big head now that Otto had a good summer league run. I’m done with this discussion. I’ll take the 1st Team All-NBA player.

I’ll take the player who made it out of the 1st Round

Ok, so what now?

I have no clue, let’s go watch Fight Club

I’d prefer Me, Myself, and Irene

(editor’s note: Yes, Oz really did have this debate with…himself. Do you think the Washington Wizards should’ve traded Bradley Beal for James Harden if the deal was on the table? Let me know in the comments section.)

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