Raptors Cage

Should the Raptors pull the trigger on Bradley Beal?

Another day, another disgruntled NBA all-star potentially on the move.

On Monday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski released a ground-shaking report about the Washington Wizards and their all-star backcourt. The message is this: John Wall and Bradley Beal are officially on the trade market.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. The Wizards are absolutely falling apart right now, and I’m not sure who to blame. Some argue that it’s Scott Brooks’ fault for allowing his players to walk all over him. Others then counter that Brooks’ gentle nature wouldn’t be a problem – if it weren’t for John Wall being such a parasite to the locker room morale. Pretty much everyone can agree, though, that longtime GM Ernie Grunfeld is not very good at his job.

I’m pretty sure that most Raptors fans don’t particularly care to figure out the root cause of the Wizards’ dysfunction. They’ve never been a very endearing team to the Raptors, given their playoff history.

But the idea of Bradley Beal in a Raptors jersey…

Well that’s a very endearing thought.

Is it possible?

Frankly, I don’t know. I’m just a writer. I have no sources for either team. I can’t tell you if Masai Ujiri has even thought about Beal. Nor can I tell you if Ernie Grunfeld has any interest in anything the Raptors have to offer.

What I can tell you, though, is that Bradley Beal is one of the most intriguing players to hit the trade market in a really long time.

That last sentence might seem silly at first. I mean, this is the NBA. The Timberwolves dealt Jimmy Butler, a top 15 player in the league, just last week. Some fun guy named Kawhi Leonard, who I’m told is a MVP candidate, was traded just a few months ago. Beal is not better than either of those players, so what makes him such a special trade target?

The value is in the context

Bradley Beal is a 25 year-old, established all-star with multiple years left on his deal. As such, he’s a valuable asset on any team in the league.

Just think about it. No bad-to-mediocre teams were interested in trading for Kawhi – because he’s on a one-year deal and would be almost guaranteed to leave. The same can be said of Jimmy Butler and Paul George. All-stars typically only hit the trade market when they’re on expiring contracts, so the only ones ever trading for them are top-end teams.

Beal is different. He’s locked down until the end of the 2020-2021 season on a very reasonable cap hit, so no teams are going to be hesitant about trading for him.┬áPlus, his skillset is tailor-made for today’s NBA. He provides instant offence at the 2-spot, and his lethality from distance makes him the ideal second/third option on a contender.

It’s going to be a bidding war.

If inserted in the Raptors’ starting lineup, he’d be their mock of Klay Thompson. The starting lineup would look something like this:

Kyle Lowry/Bradley Beal/Kawhi Leonard/Pascal Siakam/Serge Ibaka(or JV)

Sweet Christmas. I shudder at the thought of what Beal could accomplish in the Raptors’ system, given the amount of spacing Nick Nurse could arrange for him.

But again, is it possible?

Sorry, I was daydreaming.

Any trade would be fairly complicated. Rules for matching salaries (and the fact that there’s no way Lowry or Leonard gets traded) means that one of Ibaka/Valanciunas would almost certainly be in the deal. Then you’d have to sweeten the pot with a young player. Perhaps even a pick of some kind.

Siakam is likely off the table. Not just on account of his potential, but largely because he’s already too significant to the team’s chances at a championship this season. It’d be interesting to see if Masai is willing to toss in OG, given how unwilling he was to part with him in the Kawhi deal. The Raptors have been outspokenly high on Anunoby’s potential from the beginning.

It’d also be interesting to see if Washington would even consider any deal with the Raptors that OG isn’t involved in. Given the healthy market for Beal, I’m not sure they would.

The Lakers have already been linked to him, because of course they have. The Hornets appear to be interested as well. You’ll almost definitely hear of a few more teams in the coming days.

The price might end up being just too high for Masai.

Still, worth considering

There’s some risk, but the reward is absolutely there. The Raptors have so much depth they can afford to lose, and adding Beal would make for an unbelievable starting lineup.

Plus, Beal’s contract makes the situation far more flexible. Even if everything that can go wrong does go wrong this year – meaning Kawhi walks for nothing and the Raptors opt to rebuild – Masai Ujiri would not have a problem finding a trade market for Beal. The term on his contract is almost like an insurance policy for his value.

All I’m saying is this: the Raptors should at least be asking. Hope to hear more at some point soon.



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