Welcome to the era-defining trade of BOGO (Bold Owner Goes Overboard). In one corner, we have Phoenix’s Mat Ishbia, who quickly dumps any unnamed asset to overpay for whatever shiny thing next appears on the market. On the other side, we have Ted Leonsis of Washington, who humbly began a long-overdue rip-off less than a year after he boldly declared that Bradley Bell’s no-trade clause was a “partnership point.”
Oddly enough, the partnership became less symbiotic once one of the so-called partners was looking at spending next January in the Upper Midwest. The no-trade clause likely cost the Wizards huge opportunity and leverage, as it severely restricted Washington’s trading options once the franchise had come to the inevitable conclusion that it was time to move on.
That conclusion, of course, came three years too late amid much clamor about never being broke, and in the intervening time, Beal’s trade value has gone from a potential Rudy Gobert-esque comeback to…not all that much. (In the end, the deal appears to be Chris Paul, Landry Shamet, a few second-round picks and one or two potentially unrelated first-round trades to Washington for Bell and Jordan Goodwin. It could still be expanded to a three-party deal, though.) But that would be the Washington Phoenix part of the deal.)
That wizards got a lot not much and still Trade profit is a testament to the Suns’ willingness to do absolutely amazing things under Ishbia in the wake of trading Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, and four unprotected first-timers to Brooklyn for Kevin Durant. This trade was at least semi-defensible on the grounds that only a small handful of players on the planet are capable of winning a playoff series themselves, and they are not made available by trade at reliable intervals.
On the other hand, the Beal trade is an entirely different beast. Start with the fact that Beal’s contract is likely to be negative, even without the no-trade clause that now carries over to Phoenix. He’s made $42.5 million this season, at age 30, with a projected value of $32.5 million per barrel for 2023-24.
still good Player, but he’s paid handsomely. Between his blah defense, injuries and his three-pointers’ bizarre disappearance, it’s a real stretch to rank Bale among the top 25 players in the league. However, this contract pays him like a superstar until he turns 33, with $57 million in 2026-27. This will be a difficult number to deal with if things don’t go well.
Did I mention that Bill has a no-trade clause?
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I’m also a little surprised at the Suns’ rush to get rid of Chris Paul. While trading it is at least better than the insane idea of cutting it off completely, it is strange how strained they are in its value. Yeah, he was injured in the playoffs, and obviously he’s down in 2022-23 after the 2021-22 All-Star season. He is 38 years old, and at times he slows down the team a lot. However, I’d argue that Paul at $30.8 million wasn’t a much worse proposition than Bill at $42.5 million, and didn’t come up with a huge bill for the next four years and a no-trade clause.
All this discussion looks at Beal’s trade in a vacuum. But of course, Suns don’t play in a vacuum. (Though the rate at which their future drafts are disappearing may seem so.) Instead, Bell now plays on the same team as Devin Booker… who may be the single player most similar to Bell in the entire league, except Booker is younger and a bit better at Almost everything.
Inevitably, the presence of Booker (not to mention Durant) will propel Bell into something he hasn’t been in a long time, a mostly off-the-ball spacer who might look a Chris Bosh-type drop back to Miami in his touch. There is only one basketball. Mathematics won’t allow for anything else.
The bullish hope is that Bell’s shot picture becomes more treble, heavy, and more accurate in Phoenix. It’s not a pipe dream, not when Bell relied so much on his own made shots in Washington and had much higher 3-point percentages than when John Wall was chief as a setup man. But it’s not a Muslim either, and The Sun certainly didn’t address a weakness here.
The Suns will move into the lineup with both Beal and Booker starting, of course, but that will either force Booker to be a full-time point guard or one of those two to be a full-time wing-stopper. LOL in the second, so look for the Suns to bring back Torrey Craig or find cheap wingers defenders elsewhere to boost the rotation.
This brings us to another big picture of Beal’s trade. Phoenix may have used its last realistic trading chip to step back defensively and add another offensive player…a perfectly normal reaction to losing a second-round series as the other team averaged 1.22 points per possession and the MVP scored 34.5 points per game on 59 percent shooting fire.
One of the pillars that I didn’t get to push through the NBA Finals was how, on some level, it was hard to emulate the Nuggets’ success model given how special player Nikola Jokic was. However, the one thing I thought teams would do certainly The version was the Nuggets model of arming themselves with a multitude of big-wing defenders and essentially dragging opponents’ ability to hunt mismatches along the perimeter.
Especially for a team like Phoenix, who lacked an elite edge guard or switch-up specialist, this seemed like the surest way to ensure good defensive results.
Well, the Suns started with that model and then burned it to the ground to get Durant and Beal. While they didn’t lose any wingers in this trade, they did lose the ability to add any wingers, which seems absolutely bad given how starved they are of assets. You wonder if trading Paul for two misfit wingers who make $15 million each would end up with a better end product for the Suns. (The Suns at least salvaged some cheap production by acquiring Goodwin in a trade, a rotational caliber player on a minimum contract.)
There’s still a chance for Phoenix to salvage her cap sheet by making a similar one-two-kind move with center Deandre Ayton. However, the odds of that seem slim unless he has a breakout year, as the league doesn’t place much value on centers in general and especially on centers that make $30 million annually. It’s hard to see that a changeover with this trade would likely result in Ayton touching the ball, what, four times in a game?
Perhaps the ultimate irony is that a Suns team that has struggled for years under one of the league’s cheapest owners will now be punished for the new team’s profligacy. Absent the dramatic Ayton deal in this offseason, the Suns are looking at being in the second tax yard for at least the next three years, resulting in “imprisonment” of future draft pick status and almost no flexibility to add players beyond minimum contracts.
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There’s some KG-to-the-Nets potential on the way here. The Suns have already traded unprotected picks in 2025, 2027, and 2029 to Brooklyn in a Durant trade; If they remain above the second apron in three of the next five years, based on a copy of the incoming CBA terms sheet obtained by the athleteTheir first-round pick in 2032 may automatically be moved to the back of the draft based on new CBA rules, even if they have the worst team in the league.
As for Washington, it’s a bittersweet victory. Finally, there seems to be more vision in DC than aspiration to the average. On the other hand, the entire Beal saga was a completely preventable target. As mentioned above, we’re less than a year away from Leonsis and he proudly boasts that Beal’s ridiculous no-trade clause—granted with absolutely no coercion—was something of, “I didn’t take it as a point of pressure, I took it as a point of partnership.”
As noted above, the opportunity cost of not trading Beal three years ago and instead chasing the ninth seed several more times. I can tell from my personal experience how hard it is to make a regulatory detour on something like this. We were probably two years late to our rebuild in Memphis and were lucky that Marc Gasol and Mike Conley still held most of their commercial value once the trigger was pulled. Washington was not so lucky, and rebuilding will likely be longer and more painful as a result.
Fortunately, the Wizards may have a chance to win this trade a second time by forwarding Paul to a third team to expire contracts and/or minor assets. His contract guarantee was raised to $25.04 million for the season as a result of this deal; It is now fully secured at $30.1 million as of June 28th.
That should end any discussion of his waiver; Paul is a more compelling piece of trade as a living, breathing player with an expiring contract at this point. In fact, any analysis of cover room cheats focuses on the wrong player. The Wizards could generate several million in the cap room by stretching Cham’s $10.6 million over seven years, though that play also seems unlikely.
The weird part is that a lot of this will be played in slow motion. I don’t think the Suns added anything to their title odds with this deal, but it’s going to be good this year regardless. As with Durant’s trade, the pain won’t come until later, but when it hits, it’s going to hit hard. The BOGO party is always fun while it lasts, but there is no cure for your alcohol condition.
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(Photo by Bradley Bell and Landry Schmidt: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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