If the Milwaukee Bucks have any chance to acquire shooting guard Bradley Beal, this might be it.
On Monday afternoon, Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Washington Wizards are willing to trade any of their players. That’s a change because previously, the Wizards were not willing to trade their two stars; Bradley Beal and John Wall. After receiving little interest in players like Otto Porter Jr. and Kelly Oubre, in addition to their continued chemistry issues on and off the court, the Wizards opened up trade talks to everyone on their roster.
Wall doesn’t draw too much interest because of his 4 year/$170 million extension that begins next season. The gargantuan contract includes a 15 percent trade kicker that the acquiring team would have to pay. The Bucks would likely have little interest in John Wall based on this contract and the concerns about his long-term success with knee issues.
On the other hand, the Bucks probably have significant interest in Bradley Beal: a creative playmaker in the pick and roll and solid individual defender.
The Wizards’ guard is averaging 21.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 3.5 assists this season. Beal could slot in perfectly at the two-guard position next to Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton at the forward positions. Beal’s contract is much more of a bargain as he’ll be paid $25 million, $27 million, and $28 million over the next three years respectively. It sounds like Beal could take the Bucks to the next level for the coming few years; so how could the Bucks get Beal?
The Trade Idea
Note: the Bucks would also trade a 2021 top-three protected first-round pick and a 2020 unprotected second-round which is not shown above.
The only reason the Wizards would do this trade is if they wanted to get off some salary to get below the tax line. The Wizards have been paying the luxury tax this season and last season. Most team owners are willing to spend the luxury tax when their teams are contending in the Finals or Conference Finals, but the Wizards have not and will not be close to either in the foreseeable future. This is why the Bucks would trade Eric Bledsoe, who has an expiring contract so the Wizards can lower their salary payment.
Beyond Bledsoe, the Bucks still have to match salary within $5 million of Beal’s annual salary. That is why the Bucks would trade Thon Maker and Donte DiVincenzo, two prospects the Wizards may find intriguing for their long-term potential.
Finally, the Bucks would have to add a top-three protected first-round pick and an unprotected second-round pick to sweeten the deal. The Bucks’ 2019 first round pick is locked up with the Suns from the Bledsoe trade, which is projected to defer to 2020. Therefore, the earliest first-rounder Milwaukee can trade is in 2022 because NBA teams can’t trade first-round picks in back to back years. The value in the pick is in the eyes of the Wizards’ front office. If the Wizards’ management believes the Bucks will struggle in 2022, then they will be more attracted to the trade idea. The first-round pick is top-three protected just in case of an unforeseeable disaster (i.e. serious injury).
In all honesty, the Wizards’ front office is doubtful to seriously consider this trade idea. Every team was alerted to the possibility of a trade by the Adrian Wojnarowski report, and many other teams have more assets in terms of draft capital and valuable contracts. Teams like the New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Lakers are more willing and able to satisfy their cornerstone stars (Anthony Davis and LeBron James) in the short-term.