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Beal market narrows to Suns, Heat; Harden giving Sixers ‘renewed consideration’

The Bradley Beal market has narrowed down to the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat, while meanwhile, James Harden may be warming up to the idea of staying with Joel Embiid and the Sixers.

Washington Wizards v Miami Heat Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets won the title, endured a parade when they could have all been watching horse races, and the NBA world gave Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and co. approximately twelve minutes and nine seconds to celebrate before we all started frantically delving into offseason shakeups.

We have movement on the Bradley Beal trade front, and then some James Harden intel.

Heat and Suns in on Beal?

Brooklyn Nets v Washington Wizards Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Currently soaking up some of the news are the reigning Eastern Conference champs, Jimmy Butler’s Miami Heat, now reportedly a finalist in talks to land Washington Wizards long-time star Bradley Beal.

The St. Louis native signed his supermax in D.C. then waited the bare minimum one-year before seeking a trade, a humorously predictable sequence of events.

The latest from Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium:

“Developing: Washington is in serious talks with two finalists – Miami and Phoenix – on a Bradley Beal trade.”

It must be nice, huh? You coast through the regular season, you skirt by the Play In, you lose your third leading scorer in Tyler Herro, but an injury to Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo opens the door for you to go on an all-time heater.

And who knows how many more Finals games you might have stolen if Jimmy never injured his ankle in the second-round vs. New York on several Josh Hart fouls to Butler’s ankle?

So you get that close, you’ve got South Beach to pitch, an elite #culture, and a real need for a third star. No wonder Beal, who possesses the NBA’s lone no-trade clause, wants in.

The rich could very well get richer. If they had to include Tyler Herro, (who suffered a broken shooting hand) they wouldn’t even be losing a key rotation piece from their improbable Finals run.

But they may not even need to include Herro, the former Kentucky Wildcat, who Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer recently referred to as a blue-chip prospect, still just 24 years old.

Apparently, North Philly native Kyle Lowry, plus one of Victor Oladipo or Duncan Robinson, and draft picks might suffice to land Beal in raspberry and black. The Heat can trade up to three first-rounders including this year’s, no. 18, along with their own 2027, and 2029 firsts.

Miami’s second-year man out of Sombor, Serbia, (yes, the same town Jokic is from, and yes that’s only one letter difference in name) Nikola Jović, might appeal to Wizards’ Prez Michael Winger as well.

The Suns, on the other hand, used the bulk of their draft capital to acquire Kevin Durant last winter. So they would likely need to include one of Chris Paul or Deandre Ayton, along with former Sixer Landry Shamet to make the money work. They could also offer a future pick that the Nets possess the right to swap with, a distinctly ‘meh’ asset.

As most rebuilds do, it sounds like the Wizards would prefer to trim costs and take a CP3 expiring deal over Ayton’s three-year, $101M guaranteed salary.

(Friendly reminder, the Suns could have simply drafted Luka Donćič over Ayton like many of us would have suggested back in 2018.)

It’s unclear what more Phoenix could do to sweeten the pot, but keep in mind, Beal can veto any trade, so if he simply preferred Phoenix, maybe the Wizards would facilitate a deal for a star who has shown nothing but loyalty to them throughout his entire career.

We’re certainly not counting out the possibility another team could still emerge here, but Beal holds all the cards.

I know they wouldn’t be deep, but can you imagine scheming to stop a team with KD, D-Book, Beal, and Ayton (or whoever they could get in a trade for the Bahamian Big)? Yeesh. No thanks. That would figure to be a big-time upgrade over whatever production they were last getting out of 38-year-old Chris Paul, who got injured down the homestretch once again last month.

Between the two, it just feels like Miami’s deal to lose here, doesn’t it?

Not only can they easily top a Suns offer, with this new CBA adding punitive restrictions on teams seeking Big Three models, no single organization seems better primed to flesh out the rest of their roster on the cheap, aiding a star-studded core, than Pat Riley’s.

Miami has successfully mined for cheap talent to buttress its superstars for the better part of nearly three decades. Whether it’s launching careers on all ends of the talent spectrum (e.g. Dwyane Wade, Bam Adebayo, Voshon Lenard, Tyler Herro) reigniting flagging careers (e.g. Tim Hardaway, Jamal Mashburn, Dan Majerle, Isaac Austin), or uncovering hidden gems (e.g. Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, and Duncan Robinson) this franchise just has the knack.

A hypothetical quartet of Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Bradley Beal, and Tyler Herro (or a wing they could get for him?) led by the game’s best coach in Erik Spoelstra, all governed by Riley, would appear to present a major threat to the 76ers, Celtics, Bucks, and any East up-and-comer for potentially years to come.

Must be nice....but of course, Washington may want to act fast. Because as ESPN’s Brian Windhorst put it “...then you got Portland who is actively trying to trade the No. 3 pick to support Dame Lillard — and I mean actively.”

Because if things were to go the other way there, and Dame became available for trade, with the NBA Draft now just five days away, it could turn Riley’s attention away from Beal.

Stein dropped an emergency heater titled “why the Wizards need a Beal Deal ASAP,” where he wrote:

“If that’s how things played out, Miami would surely be at or the near the top of Lillard’s list of preferred destinations — with the Heat said to prefer the idea of acquiring Lillard over Beal if they had the choice.”

Another James Harden nugget

Boston Celtics v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

(Sigh).... I’ll admit, it’s difficult to get terribly excited about Sixers news with all of these other blockbuster rumors.

Do the Sixers run it back with a team that was overmatched by a Boston team, who was overmatched by a Heat team (now perhaps on the rise), who was overmatched by a Nuggets team, who won it all?

Can they get in on any of this trade action by packaging Tobias Harris, their own 2029 pick, and a few second-rounders? Are the Brooklyn Nets looking to sell on a player like Dorian Finney-Smith or Royce O’Neal?

Instead, rumors have come out that since Philadelphia is focused on re-signing Harden, they’re really not in on other big names like Beal or Zach LaVine. Other rumors suggested they wouldn’t be in on these guys, even if Harden were to bolt!

But alas, let’s see what’s new.

Over the course of the last week or two, it’s felt like there has been a sizable shift in expectations around these parts.

We’ve heard updates like:

...and now we have some more Keep the Band Together music from Marc Stein via the NBA Insider’s Substack newsletter.

Per Stein:

“Some fresh hope, perhaps, if you’re rooting for James Harden to stay with the 76ers: There have been some rumbles this week that, despite the undeniably strong lure that a return to Houston holds for Harden, he is said to be giving renewed consideration to staying put. There is a loyalty factor for Harden to weigh after Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey spent the bulk of his first 15 months in the City of Brotherly Love trying to acquire him, finally succeeding in February 2022.”

Maybe this is a selling point from Daryl Morey, that he tried and tried to land Uno ever since Morey first arrived in Philadelphia back in Fall of 2020.

Now if you’re a little cynical like I am, you’ll remember that Morey once had a list of “List of 30” players he sought in any potential Ben Simmons trade back in the Winter of 2021. Had someone like Damian Lillard or Jaylen Brown become available, (both players likely higher on Morey’s secret list than The Beard was) our romantic narrative likely wouldn’t exist.

You’re the one, I promise! Never mind that I secretly proposed to seven others before you, it was always, always you!

But whatever.... it’s still a fun yarn. And maybe it’ll help the Sixers keep Harden and save a few bucks off the tail-end of that perhaps scary-looking next contract.

Does Philly have anything big planned they’re simply keeping under wraps?

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