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Four unrealistic Bradley Beal trades Suns should explore this offseason

The Phoenix Suns have an unwanted but crucial NBA offseason coming up. Despite trading for Kevin Durant during the 2022-2023 season and Bradley Beal during the 2023 offseason, the Suns failed to win a single game in their first-round playoff series against the Minnesota Timberwolves. And now team owner Mat Ishbia and president James Jones are tasked with somehow transforming the current Suns roster into a legitimate championship contender.

When Ishbia greenlighted Phoenix’s deal for Durant at the 2023 trade deadline, it seemed like the Suns would bounce back from the success they had during the 2021 playoffs, when they reached the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. could replicate or even surpass. The injury luck wasn’t good for Phoenix, however, as Durant, who was injured while ending his Brooklyn Nets tenure, briefly showed glimpses of potential with him and Devin Booker as a pairing until Durant suffered an ankle injury.

Although Durant would manage to return, the lost time seemed to slow the on-court chemistry between himself, Booker, Chris Paul and DeAndre Ayton. Phoenix defeated a small Los Angeles Clippers squad before losing to the eventual NBA champion Denver Nuggets in six games in the second round.

During the 2023 offseason, the Suns, who seemed to go all-in on the Durant trade, made the decision to trade for Beal. Although Beal scored 30 points a few seasons earlier, he was not a hot commodity, largely due to his $251 million contract, which was roundly criticized upon signing. The worst part of the contract, however, wasn’t the money; it was that Beal had negotiated a no-trade clause into it.

No-trade clauses essentially give the player who owns one the power to veto any trade involving themselves. An NTC essentially allows the player to choose which team they want to be traded to and which players and assets they will be traded for. As such, no-trade clauses are incredibly rare in the NBA. In fact, Beal is the only player in the league who currently has an NTC.

After one season under his new contract, Beal allowed the Washington Wizards to trade him to the Suns during the 2023 offseason in a deal involving Chris Paul, Landry Shamet and a proverbial boatload of first-round pick swaps and draft pick swaps the second round. Unfortunately, Beal, Durant and Booker couldn’t all stay healthy at the same time for an extended period of time, and when the team, finally healthy, arrived in the playoffs, it became clear that the Suns simply weren’t good enough to overcome a defense . stingy as the Timberwolves’.

Now the Suns need to take a very hard look at their roster and decipher what can be done with what they have. Because of the trades that brought in Durant and Beal, and the combined salaries of the Big 3, the Suns have very little wiggle room.

While Phoenix could theoretically trade Durant or Booker, that seems incredibly unlikely considering that they are the team’s two best and most popular players and that the team has already committed so much to them in terms of money and, in the case of Durant, trade capital sent out to acquire him. That leaves only a few trade options, and while Jusuf Nurkic, Grayson Allen and Nassir Little could realistically be moved, their salaries are relatively small and can’t be combined in a trade, making it unlikely the Suns will sign them for can exchange a fortune. changing pieces.

And then there’s Beal, who has three years and more than $150 million remaining on his contract (including his $57.1 million player option in 2026-2027). Due to his massive cap hit and the fact that he is the third man in the Durant-Booker-Beal trio, he would normally be the most likely player of the three to be moved this offseason. However, as previously mentioned, Beal has a no-trade clause, which gives him all the power this summer.

Whether Beal wants to be traded remains to be seen, but things could get pretty tricky if he doesn’t. Since Beal can unilaterally cancel any trades involving himself, he could theoretically remain in Phoenix as long as his contract allows it. For the purposes of this article, we’ll assume Beal approves these trades, but since he has the ability to veto anything, we’ve marked them as unlikely.

Before we dive into the trades, let’s go over some of the limitations the Suns face as a second-platform team this offseason. The second apron is, to quickly recap, a figure above the salary cap that the league sets. If a team is above the second platform (i.e. has a payroll much higher than the salary cap) like the Suns, they face severe limitations in signing free agents and making trades.

Here are the offseason limitations Phoenix faces as a second-platform team:

  • Cannot acquire a player via sign-and-trade
  • A six-monthly exception cannot be used
  • Cannot take back more salary than it spends in trade
  • Cannot use a trade exception generated in the previous year
  • Cash cannot be carried in trading
  • Cannot combine salaries of multiple outgoing players in trade
  • Can’t trade first-round picks seven years later
  • Cannot use mid-level taxpayer exception

Pleasure. Since we’re focusing on Beal, it should be noted that he will make $50,203,930 in 2024-25, and since the Suns can’t take back more than that, they are limited to getting that amount or less in any trade involving Beal . Additionally, Beal cannot be traded with another player due to the cumulative salary cap.

The Suns only have a 2024 first-round pick (which technically cannot be traded until the pick is made) and a protected 2028 second-round pick to use as trade assets. Because Beal’s contract is an albatross with a dreaded no-trade clause, the Suns will likely have to tie their remaining draft capital to most trades to entice a team to acquire Beal.

Okay, so let’s start with some unrealistic trades involving Bradley Beal.

Bradley Beal finally lands in Miami

Getting Suns: Terry Rozier and Duncan Robinson

Heat get: Bradley Beal, 22nd overall pick in 2024 NBA Draft, 2028 protected second-round pick (via Boston)

Before finalizing his trade from Washington to Phoenix, Beal flirted with the idea of ​​joining the Miami Heat. Beal even said in October that the Heat were his “original favorite” but that they were “dragging their feet.” The Heat ultimately passed on, possibly with the hope or expectation that they would acquire Damian Lillard, giving the Suns the opportunity to trade for Beal.

This offseason could serve as a renewal for Beal and the Heat (if Miami can get under the second platform). Miami, which was defeated by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs, played the entire series without the injured Jimmy Butler, who spent the offseason experiencing something of a Cold War with team president Pat Riley. While Butler could opt out of his contract next summer, it is unlikely he would do so at the age of 35. Therefore, the Heat could pair Butler, Beal, Bam Adebayo and the usual collection of overlooked role players to build a formidable Eastern Conference squad.

In return, the Suns would get Terry Rozier, a dedicated point guard, and Duncan Robinson, a sharp-shooting three-point shooter. Robinson would fit in very well in Mike Budenholzer’s offense, which has featured shooters like Kyle Korver in the past.

Nets pair Beal with Mikal Bridges and Ben Simmons

Getting some sun: Dennis Schroder and Cameron Johnson

Nets get: Bradley Beal, 2028 protected second-round pick (via Boston)

The Brooklyn Nets, like the Suns, are in a pretty bad situation for now. After going all-in on trying to win a title with Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden, Brooklyn was without any of them just a few years after its founding. Now the team has many of the role players and secondary pieces needed to win a title, but is missing a superstar.

For the Suns, they would acquire Dennis Schroder, a valuable, two-way point guard who has played under Budenholzer and shown his real value to a playoff team with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2023. This trade would also reunite Booker with Cam Johnson. , a career 39% three-point shooter who played parts of four seasons together in Phoenix. Schroder and Johnson’s values ​​aren’t remarkably high at the moment either, which could help Phoenix pull off a trade for players who appear to fit well within Budenholzer’s system.

While Beal may be past his prime, he brings a bigger offensive punch than the Nets currently have and could take some much-needed pressure off Mikal Bridges’ shoulders. Furthermore, if – a word that cannot be emphasized enough here – Ben Simmons is able to regain his health and prove capable of distributing and defending the ball, a trio of Beal, Simmons and Bridges would be difficult to beat in the competition. Eastern Conference.

Darius Garland is coming to Phoenix

Getting Suns: Darius Garland

Cavaliers get: Bradley Beal, 22nd overall pick in 2024 NBA Draft, 2028 protected second-round pick (via Boston)

If the Cleveland Cavaliers can keep Donovan Mitchell, the team will reportedly look to move on from Darius Garland, who may be a better fit next to Devin Booker than Mitchell was in Cleveland.

The Suns would get a young, promising guard (21.7 points and 8.6 assists per game two years ago) who can shoot (38.4% career three-point shooter), while the Cavs would get a scoring threat that could allow Mitchell dominate the ball more. This could be an attractive situation for Beal, as the Cavaliers will likely be a consistent playoff team for a few more years.

Bradley Beal forms a tandem with Trae Young

Getting suns: Dejounte Murray and De’Andre Hunter

Hawks get: Bradley Beal, 22nd overall pick in 2024 NBA Draft, 2028 protected second-round pick (via Boston)

The Atlanta Hawks gambled when they traded for Dejounte Murray, hoping he could co-exist with another ball-dominant player in Trae Young. The experiment has yielded less than stellar results, and reports indicate that Atlanta is considering pulling the plug on this season.

A major problem the Hawks had with Murray and Young is that they are both best as the primary ball handler on their team. If Atlanta traded Murray for Beal, the problem would likely go away. While there would still be some question marks when it comes to Atlanta’s defense, the offense would likely fit together better, and with the emergence of Jalen Johnson, the Hawks could continue to overwhelm teams with their offensive firepower.

The Suns would get Murray back, who could return to being a true point guard as he showed he was more than capable when he was a member of the San Antonio Spurs. De’Andre Hunter, whose stock is relatively low, could likely fill the role that Royce O’Neale and Nassir Little played last season.