The Bradley Beal saga in Washington is over. Both the Wizards and Beal are presumably happy that they moved on to greener pastures. Beal can chase a championship in Phoenix and the Wizards can finally start their rebuild. However, there are plenty of valuable lessons for the rest of the NBA to learn from what happened with Beal in Washington.
The Washington Wizards catered to Beal and built around him for years. They gave him a maximum contract extension in the 2022 offseason and attempted to stay competitive, even if it meant sacrificing the future.
While doing this, the Wizards couldn’t even manage to be competitive, making the playoffs once in the last five seasons.
That is the worst position to be in in the NBA. Not good enough to be a playoff team, but not bad enough to secure a high draft pick. Despite missing the playoffs four times in the last five years, the highest the Wizards selected in the draft was 8th, in this year’s draft.
This is what happens when you hold onto your stars for too long. Overvaluing your own players and team is a massive mistake plenty of organizations make. If your star is not an All-NBA caliber player, he is probably not good enough to build a successful team around.
If your best-case scenario if everything goes right and everyone is healthy is being an 8th-seed, that means you are not good enough. Because most likely, everything will not go right. Players will get injured or underperform.
So, it’s best to trade your sub-All-NBA level players if your team is not good enough to be a consistent playoff team. The Wizards waited a few years too long and got an underwhelming return for Beal. If they traded him in 2021, Washington likely would have gotten a return similar to what Jrue Holiday, Dejounte Murray, or Rudy Gobert brought in for their teams.
This Beal saga should be a lesson to teams like the Chicago Bulls or the Toronto Raptors. These teams are also currently overvaluing what they have and locking themselves into play-in level teams. Players like Zach Lavine or Pascal Siakam are currently healthy and in their primes. It would be an organizational failure to hold on to them to chase the 8th-seed rather than dealing them for young players and draft assets.
These teams are only delaying the inevitable: noticing you are not good enough and rebuilding. Teams owe it to their fans make this experience as painless as possible. It will be far more disappointing to fans when you trade your All-Stars for an underwhelming package like the Wizards did with Beal. It’s time for these teams to not repeat Washington’s mistakes.