Washington Wizards: Revisiting the Beal-to-Toronto rumors and what they mean

Washington Wizards, Bradley Beal (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Washington Wizards, Bradley Beal (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /

Bradley Beal, the Washington Wizards All-Star guard, is reportedly drawing interest from one of the league’s top teams.

Less than a week ago, the Toronto Raptors were reportedly exploring the possibility of trade talks with the Washington Wizards for Bradley Beal. On Sunday, both teams will go head-to-head.

At this point, it appears those talks never manifested into much, but there’s a lot to take away from these reports about where the Wizards see themselves as well as Beal’s overall value.

According to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, the Wizards are demanding two players and two draft picks from the Raptors for their All-Star. The Raptors would likely send out both Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby, who make up part of Toronto’s young core.

Even though Siakam and Anunoby aren’t big names, they’re athletic and versatile who very much so contributing to Toronto’s success thus far. Throw in the two draft picks, and it may seem like a high asking price, but Beal is also one of the top shooting guards in the league.

The fact that the Wizards are asking for so much back tells us two things though.

For starters, Washington really values Beal, as they should. Of the team’s three max-contract players, Beal is clearly the most impactful and consistent at this point in his career. John Wall has missed more the half of the season due to injury for two straight campaigns, and Otto Porter‘s ceiling just isn’t high enough to be a team’s top star.

This leads to the second takeaway, which is that the Wizards aren’t ready to throw in the towel on this season, or this core, quite yet.

While they won’t get equal value for Beal from any one particular player in Toronto not named Kawhi Leonard, or even Kyle Lowry, Siakam and Anunoby have serious potential to be high-end starters throughout their career. The two first-round picks are valuable assets too.

But Siakam, Anunoby, and the first-rounders are only attractive if you’re building towards the future, and the Wizards just aren’t there yet. Fans can debate whether they should be or not, but the franchise apparently doesn’t want to go that direction right now.

Nor should they necessarily. Going into Sunday’s game, the Wizards are arguably playing their best basketball of the season.

They’ve won five of their last seven games, including three against some of the league’s best in the Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers, and Milwaukee Bucks. The Wizards also just two games out of the playoffs, with a majority of their games in the second half of the season at home.

Next. Three Big Questions for the Washington Wizards at the Halfway Mark. dark

For now, the Wizards want to see if they can hang around in the playoff picture. All of that could change by the time the trade deadline rolls around on February 7, but going into their matchup against the Raptors, the Wizards are smart to keep their options open when thinking about dealing a player of Beal’s caliber.