The 76ers were reportedly not in on the (weird) Bradley Beal sweepstakes.
When you see what the three-time All-Star was ultimately acquired for by Phoenix — Chris Paul (who may land elsewhere when the dust settles), former Sixer Landry Shamet, plus a collection of second-rounders and who-knows-if-they’ll-ever-convey swaps — it starts to feel kinda crazy.
Could the Sixers have landed Beal in a Tobias Harris plus-first-round-pick-centered deal? Would Beal have even considered playing alongside Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey and maybe James Harden too?
Should Sixer fans feel frustrated or should we simply celebrate every time the Miami Heat miss out on a star?
It seems there’s always some grand lesson to be learned whenever a supermax is involved. Joel Embiid’s supermax kicks off this summer, just saying.
The Wizards not trading Beal years ago, giving him a supermax, then the franchise crippling coup de grâce, offering him the NBA’s only no-trade clause, yikes. It all provides a case study of organizational mismanagement.
Let’s deep dive into one of the more wild trades in recent memory, shall we?
Pre-trade reporting out of our nation’s capital
First, we heard which teams wanted Beal:
The Heat, Bucks, Kings and Knicks are the teams showing interest in Bradley Beal, per @ShamsCharania:— Evan Sidery (@esidery) June 16, 2023
“These two teams join the Heat and Bucks as teams expected to be in competition for Beal’s services.” https://t.co/frR1HL2t0W
Then we learned the market had winnowed down to Miami and Phoenix.
And we heard from multiple insiders that the 76ers were not interested. We even heard some local reports contradicting the national stories.
John Gambadoro, out of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM:
I do not believe Miami is interested in Beal - from what I have heard. May be why the Suns are the leaders in the clubhouse. It's certainly not because Phoenix has a lot to offer.— John Gambadoro (@Gambo987) June 17, 2023
Next, we’d get some key pre-trade intel via David Aldridge and Josh Robbins, The Athletic, Washington:
“Miami’s offered guards Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson, along with multiple future first-round draft picks....The Suns have multiple offers for Beal on the table — one for a package centered around 24-year-old center Deandre Ayton, the other for future Hall of Fame point guard Chris Paul and veteran Landry Shamet.”
If these deals were truly on the table as reported, did the Wizards prefer a package without multiple first-round picks or did Beal simply veto all non-Phoenix teams?
Initial reports (and the final return) mostly made it sound like the latter, Beal flexing his no trade clause... but later things would take a curious turn.
Post trade reports
Sunday, the trade goes down. And we immediately start to hear reports that the Heat were more focused on Damian Lillard in the end.
It’s tempting to roll your eyes here, right?
We weren’t rejected by Washington or Beal, we just weren’t that interested to begin with, honest!!
The Athletic Staff’s initial trade report made it sound like it was Beal vetoing any team but Phoenix.
Per The Athletic, shortly after the blockbuster came in:
“The Wizards, league sources told The Athletic, had offers from Phoenix, Miami and Milwaukee but they — and Beal — ultimately chose the Suns....
Ultimately, Beal picked the Suns over multiple other trade scenarios, including Miami, Milwaukee and Sacramento, sources said. The Wizards entered serious negotiations with the Suns and Heat on Saturday, as The Athletic reported, and that’s when the Bucks re-entered the picture. Milwaukee officials spoke with Beal on Saturday to pitch him on the Bucks, league sources said. — [Shams] Charania”
[Quick Bucks sidebar: remember Khris Middleton is a free agent. As Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer recently put things before the trade “...mathematically [a Bucks-Wizards Beal trade] feels like it has to include Khris Middleton....” This nugget becoming news might necessitate a little ego massaging somewhere up in Wisconsin, no? Wouldn’t it be nice if the Bucks lost one of Middleton or Brook Lopez, also a FA, while the Heat struck out on both Beal and then Lillard?]
Did Miami really hedge or did Washington do something super, weird? Or both?
Many of us started to get mildly comfortable with the idea that Beal simply handpicked Phoenix.
If you were a Sixers fan who wanted the team to land Beal (who shares a trainer with Joel Embiid in Drew Hanlen) you might have even taken solace in the idea Miami offered multiple firsts (the Sixers only have one to offer) and were rebuffed by Beal.
But then came this odd trickling stream of counter reports, painting a more complex picture of what really transpired.
"The Knicks were in heavy for a while. Boston kicked the tires. The Bucks made a move late. The Kings made inquiries....But all of those teams wanted to attach bad contracts to their offers. The Wizards wanted to have all Beal Business off of their books in 12 months." https://t.co/rJpv5hKhxK— DaveEarly (@DavidEarly) June 19, 2023
Yes. Washington did ask for Deandre Ayton in the Beal trade and the Suns were unwilling to include him in the deal. https://t.co/hMSZfNts4E— John Gambadoro (@Gambo987) June 19, 2023
The Miami Heat barely showed interest in Bradley Beal, per @Gambo987— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) June 19, 2023
“I believe that Miami was not that interested in Bradley Beal… If Miami was really involved in this and Beal was interested in going there, there’s no way Miami couldn’t have put a better offer on the table… pic.twitter.com/6DX5r9deTE
After the trade went down, The Athletic’s Josh Robbins, reporting out of D.C., asked the question on all of our minds:
“....There’s at least one other essential question here: Why did the Wizards choose the Suns’ offer over the Miami Heat’s offer? It appears Washington may not have had a choice. At the very end of the process, as Beal weighed pitches from the Suns and the Heat, he had power to determine where he would go.”
But Barry Jackson of Miami Herald sang a somewhat different tune, that Washington, not Beal rejected Miami. The plot thickens!
No matter what you read, I've been assured by someone directly involved that Beal did not veto a trade to the Heat. Miami never made an offer that Washington preferred over the Phoenix offer. Wizards asked Heat for something (not certain what) that Miami declined to give.— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) June 18, 2023
This thing has legs, huh?
Zach Lowe of ESPN had this to add on “The Lowe Post” pod:
“... [the no trade clause] it’s the most important variable in the thing, it’s the reason he’s with the Suns and not with anybody else.”
....but a couple of minutes later Lowe posited:
“...that [Beal supermax] contract, I think is the no. 1 reason why the Miami Heat do not have Bradley Beal on their team right now...”
Let me get this straight:
- Bradley is on the Suns because of the no-trade clause
- Miami reportedly made a legit offer with numerous picks
- but Miami being wary of Beal’s contract is the top reason he’s not in South Beach?
All of that is true? Please resolve!
Let’s hit up more D.C. news for help:
David Aldridge’s post-trade analysis:
“Miami has clearly prioritized getting Damian Lillard from Portland, with Jimmy Butler a central part of the Heat’s recruiting pitch. While Washington wanted the multiple first-rounders the Heat were offering, it didn’t matter; Beal wanted to play in Phoenix....The Wizards couldn’t stay in a holding pattern; unwilling to wait on the Heat, they turned to Phoenix, which our Shams Charania first reported had gotten into the sweepstakes seriously on Saturday.”
So Washington wanted the multiple picks, but couldn’t stay in a “holding pattern” waiting on the Heat, so they turned to the Suns? Whaa?
Let’s fly south and grab a copy of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, maybe there’s something about this mysterious “holding pattern.”
What say you Ira Winderman:
“....There is no question that the Heat could have put similar expiring contracts into play for Bradley Beal as the Suns did with the Wizards (Kyle Lowry and Victor Oladipo instead of Phoenix’s Chris Paul and Landry Shamet). And it is undeniable that the Heat could have offered far better draft capital, had they elected to do so.”
The Athletic reported that Miami offered “multiple” firsts, but Winderman says they could have offered “far better draft capital” than they did.
Miami can only offer three firsts in total. So let’s loosely assume the Heat made a verbal offer of two firsts, along with Lowry (expiring) and Robinson (two guaranteed years).
More from Winderman:
“Now the question is whether Pat Riley and the Heat front office hedged their pursuit of Beal because of greater focus on potentially landing Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard....
Asked about the Heat’s approach with Beal, a party familiar with the talks on Sunday told the South Florida Sun Sentinel to “think bigger.”
Think bigger obviously means Dame, right? Again, here’s where we would typically roll our eyes, but there’s too much going on here to simply dismiss this idea Miami hedged.
Crap, is Vegas like sort of baking Dame into Miami’s title odds now?
Luckily, for Sixers fans, Dame doesn’t yet sound hellbent on leaving Portland.
But if Portland doesn’t trade the No. 3 pick, he may well change his tune Thursday.
Dame already said “Obviously, Miami,” when asked about where he’d wanna land in a potential trade.
Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report said if the Blazers keep their pick, they may need to have that conversation with Dame.
So far so good, but there are always more bullets to dodge. Right now only Boston and Milwaukee have better odds in the East than Philly. But Miami might be on the brink of something big.
I’m starting to think that the Wizards did something that would really upset me if I were a Washington fan... on top of the original no-trade clause disaster.
“In what ultimately turned into a Wizards priority of a salary-cap dump that involved taking on no salary beyond the next season, Washington prioritized the coming season’s expiring contracts... the Heat declined to put the contract of guard Tyler Herro into play in a package for Beal....With Beal, who turns 30 on June 28, there was concern about a contract worth nearly $210 million over the next four seasons, with Beal’s no-trade clause accompanying him to his next stop....
For Oladipo to be included in a Heat deal, he has to formally opt into his 2023-24 salary.”
This completely vibes with Aldridge’s definitive “The Wizards wanted to have all Beal Business off of their books in 12 months.”
Did the Washington Wizards have an offer for multiple firsts and turn it down because they didn’t want to pay Duncan Robinson $19.4M bucks in 2024-2025? Sounding that way, isn’t it?
(Also, if Washington wanted picks but refused long-term money, then a hypothetical Tobias Harris-expiring-plus-first offer blows the one Washington ultimately accepted out of the water. Wonder if Beal would have been open to it, had Morey and Joel rolled out the red carpet.)
Come to think of it, Washington might have traded Robinson for yet another asset as well as the former D-3 standout played these playoffs. (Heck, I’m sure a few reasonable Sixers fans would simply prefer Robinson to Tobias Harris straight up.)
But if that’s the case, then Aldridge’s “holding pattern” could mean two things, either A) the Wizards would have considered taking on long-term salary if and only if Pat Riley changed his mind about not offering Tyler Herro in the package, (something we know the Heat did not want to do) or B) the Wiz would have needed to wait for Victor Oladipo to opt-in.
Oladipo seems likely to pick up his $9.4M player-option soon, but if he did so after Thursday’s Draft, maybe Washington worried Miami (or even Phoenix) could find another deal. And maybe that idea, plus Miami not putting Herro on the table, all made Washington feel impatient.
Hence, our holding pattern they couldn’t tolerate! Finally, a clear picture is shaping up.
Lowe’s pod continued, with guest Bobby Marks, ESPN:
Lowe: “And in the end, I think [Miami] kept their powder dry.... Washington clearly wanted to just get this money off the books and move on, then why don’t we just keep our powder dry....maybe it’s Damian Lillard in four days, maybe not....”
Marks: .... that’s why we started to hear Victor Oladipo, Kyle Lowry.... for the Heat — this is what we’ll do, not including Herro, if they don’t do it, great, we’ll just kind of sit in a holding pattern....”
Marks said holding pattern too! The madness is making sense.
Yahoo Sports’ Dan Devine with even more on this keep-the-powder-dry-angle:
“[Beal] reportedly would’ve chosen either the Miami Heat or Phoenix Suns; according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the Heat (perhaps preferring to keep their powder dry for an even bigger target who may hit the market) never made the Wizards an offer that Washington liked better than the one on the table from Phoenix. That left the Suns....
That package highlights how little leverage Washington had...and how much new team president Michael Winger and Co. valued shedding the $150.6 million that Beal is guaranteed to make over the next three seasons, as well as his $57.1 million player option for 2026-27.”
If I were Winger, a GM, I’d rather the picks. But if I were Ted Leonsis, a team owner, maybe I’d rather the cash savings.
Can you imagine if the only thing that saved Sixers fans from watching Beal join the Heat, while retaining Herro, was the Wizards...just...not wanting to pay Duncan Robinson a second-year?
Most 4th quarter points in the Finals:— StatMuse (@statmuse) June 11, 2023
28 — Nikola Jokic
25 — Jamal Murray
23 — Duncan Robinson
22 — Bam Adebayo pic.twitter.com/bokT3DoGo5
Boiling it all down
So if we listen to all of the podcasts, if we read all of the semi-conflicting, semi-overlapping reports, if we boil it all down, it sounds like the Heat made a real offer for Beal.
How big that offer was exactly, we don’t know, but it certainly sounds better than the Suns’ winning offer, from a draft-pick standpoint. Maybe they made the No. 18 available and a well-protected, distant future pick on top?
We even have several reports indicating Beal was down to take his talents to South Beach.
There’s just too many reporters speculating Beal could have wound up in Miami (under different circumstances) for us to accept any “Beal only wanted Phoenix” narratives.
On the flip, if Washington accepted that Heat package then all of these post-hoc “Miami just held out for Dame” narratives would fly straight out the window too.
We preferred Dame all along, but between you and me, you would have heard how much we love Beal if the Wizards had just accepted our offer.
Narratives make events that nearly weren’t somehow feel inevitable.
All in all, it starts to sound like the Wiz might, might have okayed long-term money for one of Ayton or Herro, (Ayton may have been available, Herro definitely was not) but certainly were not going to for the likes of Robinson... even if the Williams College and Michigan product came accompanied by first-round capital. And Miami wasn’t exactly rushing to counter with Dame on that fence.
In sum, it sounds like Washington checked the market for suitors, and then among those eager teams, Beal picked the two he was prepared to play for. And between the two, Miami chose to limit their offer in such a way that led the Wizards to choose to turn to Phoenix.
Is it possible the Wizards, in the process of literally shedding the bulk of a $251M supermax, turned down first-rounder picks because it meant paying an extra $19.4M to this guy?
Duncan Robinson starting to warm up ♨️— NBA TV (@NBATV) June 13, 2023
Miami with an early 10-point lead pic.twitter.com/9aiZyPXG2X
Washington messed this up so bad that we may never see a no-trade clause in the NBA again. But they might have at least salvaged a little more value. Not that any of us are crying in Philly.
This is certainly one bizarre instance.
On the other end of the spectrum, you got the Suns looking to spend as much money as humanly possible, new aprons be damned.
Hopefully, the Bucks entering this conversation for Beal sours Milwaukee’s ongoing negotiations with Khris Middleton. Hopefully, Lillard remains #Loyal for one more season. And if the Sixers can get James Harden back on a team-friendly deal, then maybe they can improve upon their current sixth overall title odds on DraftKings.
Hey, but no matter what happens, at least you’re not a Wizards fan this week.