It’s a new era in Washington. The Wizards finally traded their franchise player Bradley Beal to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Chris Paul, Landry Shamet, second-round picks, and pick swaps.
Bradley Beal was the big domino to fall before the Wizards made their decision about their new direction under new management. Dealing Beal and his monster contract that has four years and over $200 million remaining means the Wizards are finally pivoting to a rebuild.
Beal, who has been a Wizard since 2012, signed a massive contract extension last offseason that included a no-trade clause. This narrowed the field for Beal trades and weakened the offers Washington received since trade partners knew the Wizards had no leverage.
The Wizards could have certainly gotten more in a Beal deal
Considering Beal’s contract situation, the fact that the Wizards were able to get some draft assets and cap relief can be seen as a positive. But it is also clearly not the best deal the Wizards could have gotten.
Not receiving a young player with upside or a sure-fire first-round pick is a failure when you trade a franchise star.
Pick swaps between teams can be valuable, but there is no guarantee that they will convey, especially if they are further down the line. If the Wizards are still worse than the Suns when the time for the pick swaps comes, Washington will have traded Beal for no significant draft pick return.
The player return is not ideal either. Landry Shamet is a 26-year-old bench shooting guard without much upside. He gets paid over $10 million next season, not a bargain deal for a player of his caliber.
Chris Paul will be making $30.8 million next year. As a 38-year-old, he may not be worth this deal, but he is still a very valuable player. He was an All-Star the previous three seasons and he was still an important part of the Suns’ success. He may not be reliable in the playoffs due to his injury record, but he is a wonderful regular-season player who instills organization and discipline in every team he plays for.
Yet, it is not clear whether Paul will remain with the Wizards. There is a good chance he will be flipped or waived as Paul presumably wouldn’t want to spend his final years in the NBA on a rebuilding team. But if he does, he could be a great mentor to the young Wizards.
The main appeal of the trade for the Wizards is the salary cap relief
The main appeal of this deal for the Wizards is the salary cap relief. While Beal still had four more years on his contract, both Paul and Shamet’s deals after this season are non-guaranteed, meaning the Wizards could easily let them walk and open up significant cap space.
There is certainly a benefit to the idea of not wasting any time and starting your rebuild immediately. This is what the Wizards accomplished by trading Beal today.
It does make you wonder, however, whether they could have gotten more in return if they were more patient.
Regardless of the return, Washington turned a new page today, and that is exciting. At least, the Wizards are not going to be stuck in purgatory from now on.