Where the Washington Wizards can learn from the Charlotte Hornets’ mistakes

Washington Wizards Bradley Beal Kemba Walker (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Bradley Beal Kemba Walker (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Washington Wizards should take notes from the Charlotte Hornets’ recent failures with Kemba Walker when dealing with Bradley Beal.

As the season approaches for the Washington Wizards, there are more than enough questions to keep writers busy. The largest of which is what they’re going to do with star guard Bradley Beal.

An All-Star talent, Beal is wasting away on a Washington squad that’s highest ceiling is the Eastern Conference eighth seed. But after losing star backcourt partner John Wall to a torn Achilles, the Wizards refuse to commit to rebuilding.

With their point guard out until at least 2020, and Beal right in the middle of his prime, the Washington front office could stand to learn from the Charlotte Hornets mistakes.

Those mistakes being, refusing to engage in trade talks surrounding All-Star point guard Kemba Walker. Then, letting him inevitably walk in free agency and join the Boston Celtics.

Walker was the face of the Hornets franchise for eight straight seasons. During that time the team finished with a greater than .500 record just twice. Looking back, Charlotte was an unimpressive 263-377 during the Kemba Walker era.

It wasn’t as if the Hornet’s weren’t getting offers, either. The Hornets received plenty of offers for the point guard in the years leading up to his departure from Charlotte. Yet, Charlotte elected to retain the guard in hopes of resigning him to another long-term deal in the summer.

With a soon-to-be free agent All-Star guard on their hands, the similarities between Beal and Walker’s situations are hard to overlook. A great player is once again wasting away on a team that refuses to acknowledge their less than competitive standing.

How does that tie into the Beal and Washington marriage? 

The Washington Wizards drafted Bradley Beal in the 2012 NBA Draft. He’s a homegrown talent just as was Walker in Charlotte. After seven seasons with the team, there’s just no clear direction as to where the franchise is best suited moving forward.

The Wizards haven’t finished poorly enough to earn a top-5 draft pick, and haven’t drafted any game-changing talents that can help Beal lead this team to a winning season.

Furthermore, the team elected to trade their best draft pick since Beal in Otto Porter Jr to the Chicago Bulls for nothing more than a second-round pick (when all was said and done).

While the Wizards could very well finish above .500 this year, it just doesn’t fit their timeline or Beal’s to continue a partnership. And per multiple sources, there’s a heavy market in both the Eastern and Western conferences for the guard’s services.

The same was said about Walker, who walked out of Charlotte after posting career-highs in points (25.6), assists (4.4), and free throw attempts (5.5) per game. But still, Charlotte insisted on retaining the guard and offering him a super-max extension.

He inevitably declined, and the rest is (albeit recent) history.

And the same may be said about Beal next summer, who’s shown no interest in signing the three-year/$111 million extension that the Wizards offered him earlier this summer.

Similar to Charlotte, Washington hasn’t been a free agency destination in recent years, if ever. The last big name to join the Hornets is arguably the last to join the Wizards: Dwight Howard. And they both got him far past his prime

And that’s not saying much, if anything, at all. Making the chances Beal signs an extension ahead of his 2021 free agency less and less likely.

The Los Angeles Clippers, New Orleans Pelicans, Brooklyn Nets, Denver Nuggets, and Boston Celtics have all been linked to Beal-centric trade rumors one way or another. But as it stands, Wizards GM Tommy Shepard reportedly has no intention of trading the guard just yet.

If the front office waits until the following year, however, to gauge the trade market, they’ll inevitably find teams are far more reluctant to trade assets than they would be now. Is it worth a year of Beal’s prime to wait and see if John Wall can still be a top-10 point guard next season? It’s a high-risk game the Wizards are playing that might not have the high-reward to match.

Next. Washington Wizards 2019-20 Season Preview: Charlotte Hornets. dark

After playing an entire-82 game season and averaging 25.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 5.5 assists, Beal birthed his second consecutive All-Star game appearance last season. He’s slap in the middle of his prime and o a fairly affordable contract through next season. The market will never be higher.

The Washington Wizards don’t have to buy in on tanking, but they do need to come to the realization that a return for Bradley Beal will never be as high as it is now. You’ve got to strike the iron while it’s hot, and a trade involving the guard could be franchise-altering. In a good way.