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Bradley Beal Is A Wizard No More And The Suns Are Going For It

Bradley Beal #3 of the Washington Wizards watches during the second quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on March 17, 2023.
Jason Miller/Getty Images

After rumors buzzed about all week about an upcoming deal, the Washington Wizards agreed on Sunday afternoon to send Bradley Beal to the Phoenix Suns for a package including Chris Paul, Landry Shamet, and a number of second-round picks and pick swaps.

On its face, and even taking into account Beal's massive contract, this looks like a notably light haul for an All-Star who was considered one of the better trade pieces of the offseason. Of course, the Wizards might have been constrained by the fact that Beal also has the lone no trade clause in the NBA on his contract; as the return indicates, there are miles of difference between the best offer on the market and the best offer from a team that Beal wanted to play for. (In a twist that will draw a lot of posts and possibly also some cursory league scrutiny, Beal's agent, Mark Bartelstein, is the father of Suns CEO Josh Bartelstein, whom the team hired in April.)

As for where the Wizards are headed, the organization is clearly on an express train to tank city. Whether the team buys him out or finds some way to flip him, it seems highly unlikely that Paul ever ends up suiting up for Washington. Breaking free of Beal's mega-max contract gives the Wizards a chance to start fresh with new leadership at the helm, although it's hard to believe that process will go any better this time around.

This marks an anticlimactic end to the Beal-Wizards partnership after 11 years, a run that goes all the way back to the team picking him third overall in 2012. Beal spent a good amount of that time playing second fiddle to John Wall on some intermittently sassy teams, and once the team became properly his after Wall's injury and exile, Beal showed off exceptionally consistent play, at least when he wasn't injured. The only time the Wizards made any real noise in the playoffs during Beal's decade-plus in town was in 2014 and 2015. After injury compromised them in 2016, they made the playoffs again in 2017, notably highlighted by the John Wall scorer's table moment after beating the Hawks in the first round. The Wizards went on to make brief appearances in the playoffs in 2018 and then 2021 when, with help from Russell Westbrook, they made and won the play-in before cashing in their chance to get destroyed in the first round. Last year, Beal shot a career-best 51 percent from the field but only played in 50 games due to injury. That continued a worrying trend for Beal, who hasn't played all 82 games in a season since 2018-19.

Beal now gets to team up with Kevin Durant and Devin Booker for what should be one of the NBA's most impressive offenses; if all goes well, Deandre Ayton might even show up in some capacity, too. The Suns' let's say four stars will take up the bulk of the teams salary cap, and thanks to the new CBA there won't be much room to add depth along the margins. A bet on Beal is a bet that there's no such thing as too top-heavy a roster, and that new coach Frank Vogel will figure out how to make it all make sense. New owner Mat Ishbia is doing what ambitious new owners like to do and trying to spend his way into a championship. This is a thing wealthy people delude themselves into believing can be done... but it might work for him. Anyways, it's not like there are any recent examples of it going terribly.

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