As the news broke about the Washington Wizards and Bradley Beal working together to sort out a trade that works for both sides, so did reports about potential suitors. One interested party that surprised some NBA watchers is the Milwaukee Bucks, according to Shams Charania of the Athletic.
This report was later corroborated by Brian Windhorst of ESPN, confirming the veracity of the rumors. The reason why the Milwaukee Bucks are an unexpected suitor is their relative lack of trade assets and matching salaries. Such a trade would almost certainly require the Bucks to part ways with either Jrue Holiday or Khris Middleton, both essential parts of Milwakuee’s championship core.
Milwaukee is unlikely to trade Jrue Holiday
It is extremely unlikely that the Bucks would part ways with Jrue Holiday for Bradley Beal. Holiday had a wonderful season last year and is still playing at an All-Star level as a 33-year-old. He is not the offensive dynamo the Beal is but he is a healthier and better player overall with a cheaper contract.
A trade between Milwaukee and Washington that doesn’t involve Middleton or Holiday is a complicated one to pull off. The Bucks need to include every single role player they have, including Bobby Portis, Pat Connaughton, and Grayson Allen. They also have to include Marjon Beauchamp and one of their upcoming free agents in a sign & trade like Joe Ingles, Wes Matthews, or Jae Crowder.
A deal with five players incoming and one outgoing is a very difficult conception in terms of roster construction. Milwaukee would have no depth whatsoever, and the Wizards would be in a massive roster crunch. And the players Bucks are sending aren’t super attractive options for a rebuilding Wizards. They would need younger players with more of an upside.
This means that the only possible option for a trade between two teams is one that involves Khris Middleton.
Middleton is a valuable scoring wing and a three-time All-Star. However, he missed most of the regular season last year and had knee surgery after the playoffs. As a 31-year-old, it is unclear at what level he is going to come back next season. His defensive showing in the playoffs against Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat was concerning.
The Bucks have a fine trade package for Beal but might not be the best one
Middleton has a player option for $40.3 million next season. Considering the injury and decline concerns, he likely picks it up, unless he feels there is a generous long-term contract out there for him, which seems implausible. He also needs to opt-in for next season to make a potential Beal deal work salary-wise.
An aging Middleton doesn’t hold a lot of value for the Wizards. However, he is going to be on an expiring contract. The Wizards could evaluate his recovery and performance this season and make a decision next season to either re-sign or flip him again. Even if it doesn’t work out, it wouldn’t be the end of the world for him to leave as it would create cap space.
The main obstacle against this trade is Milwaukee’s dearth of other assets to attach to Middleton. The best they can do is a 2029 first-round pick, and pick swaps in 2028 and 2030. Add promising young wing Marjon Beauchamp in the mix, and you have a fine package.
This offer might be fine but is it good enough?
If there are actually multiple suitors for Beal, probably not. If there is a bidding war, the Milwaukee Bucks could easily be outbid by the likes of Miami.
Beal’s no-trade clause gives him a say in these negotiations. If he prefers playing next to Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee, the Wizards would have to agree to send him there. However, considering that the Miami Heat, who are interested in him, are also title contenders, he would likely choose them over the Bucks.
There will certainly be more potential suitors for Beal in the upcoming weeks. It will be fascinating to see whether the Bucks will have the best offer for him. For now, that seems unlikely.