The Bradley Beal saga is finally over. The Washington Wizards can now look forward and start their rebuild. However, the disappointing return they got from their franchise star underlines the past mistakes of the Wizards’ ownership and previous regime.
The Wizards and Beal negotiated a contract extension last offseason. The terms of the deal were five years, $251 million with a no-trade clause. The Wizards basically gave Beal everything they possibly could. No other player in the league had a no-trade clause at that point. The trade with the Phoenix Suns basically guarantees that we will not see another one in the league any time soon.
The Wizards could have gotten more for Beal at any point in the last four years
In 2019, the Wizards had given Beal another max extension, worth $72 million for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons.
The Washington Wizards almost certainly would have gotten more in a Beal trade at any point since that point in 2019. And it was abundantly clear that this team was not going to be a contender soon. The Wizards waited and waited, chasing the 8th seed every season as mandated by ownership.
In the four seasons since then, the Wizards made the playoffs once, as an 8th seed obviously. Even worse, Beal’s trade value kept going down. It hit its nadir now after he spent two injury-ridden seasons where he wasn’t playing close to an All-Star level, but making 35% of the salary.
Dealing Beal earlier would have given the Wizards better draft picks over the years
Another reason holding onto Beal was even more egregious was the fact that the 2023 NBA Draft is one of the strongest draft classes in a long time. Even if the Wizards traded Beal this past trade deadline, they would have hit the bottom at the right time, increasing their odds of drafting Victor Wembanyama or Scoot Henderson.
How the Wizards front office under Tommy Sheppard and the Wizards owner Ted Leonsis handled the Beal situation is franchise malpractice. Not only did they tank Beal’s value for holding onto him for too long and making him an overpaid asset, but they also lowered the Wizards’ draft picks by staying competitive, creating the current dearth of assets the Wizards are dealing with now.
If we are going to criticize the new regime for trading Beal for an underwhelming return, we have to be fair and start the criticism with the ownership and the previous front office.