Drafting Wall at No. 1 overall signaled light finally entering into a downtrodden franchise. From there, general manager Ernie Grunfeld decided to pile on the losses for three more seasons. After Wall, Washington selected Jan Vesely (No. 6), Bradley Beal (No. 3), Otto Porter (No. 3). Once Vesely quickly flamed out — Dragan Bender might be heading down the same path — the Wizards flipped the switch to winning once they had their core of Wall, Beal and Porter.
However, as we all know, it hasn’t gone too well for Washington when it comes to success in the playoffs. Even though they have made the cut four of the past five seasons, Washington’s core has yet to make it past the Conference Semifinals.
Now, it’s culminated with a disastrous start with fractured relationships splintering throughout their locker room. Wall doesn’t seem to respect his head coach, Scott Brooks, as he was fined due to hurling cuss words his way.
Story filed to ESPN: The Wizards fined All-Star John Wall for unloading a verbal barrage onto coach Scott Brooks in a recent practice. After Wall and his teammates had been challenged to raise intensity in that session, Wall fired back with "F--- you," to Brooks. Story soon.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 20, 2018
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski also reported on Monday morning that no Wizard is exempt from the trading block now, including All-Star guards Wall and Beal. It’s easy to notice there’s a franchise-altering trade on the horizon.
With that being said, with both the Suns and Wizards off to painfully slow starts, are they an ideal match to spark up discussions on either Wall or Beal? You might be surprised by the answer, maybe not, but I absolutely believe that’s the case. Especially with the Suns’ crater-sized hole alongside Devin Booker in the backcourt, Washington might be the ones who engage Phoenix first due to majority owner Robert Sarver’s reputation of running thin on patience.
Below, I’m going to analyze both scenarios for Phoenix (the most ideal trade package) if they were to move ahead towards reeling in Wall or Beal. Unlike most blockbuster trades, Washington’s nosedive has made value on their players outside of Beal nearly negative altogether.
When glancing over Wall’s upcoming contract extension, you might have to cover your eyes. Not even kicking in until 2019-20, Wall will be making $169.3 million over the next four years at the following figures: $37.8 million, $40.8 million, $43.9 million and a player option of $46.9 million (!!).
Wall has been an All-Star each of the past five seasons, but that’s in a depleted Eastern Conference that has now been reloaded around them. And it’s fair to say Wall isn’t on the same level as other point guards like Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker, especially now. Wall unfortunately has been more on the Eric Bledsoe level, in terms of production out East, thus far.
Don’t get me wrong, Wall would be a great facilitator helping set up Booker and Deandre Ayton, but he can’t consistently shoot from beyond the arc. Wall also has a shaky injury history. Before missing 41 games last season, he had multiple nagging lower body injuries during his rookie contract.
There’s also a lack of leadership showing through right now in Washington, painting a bad picture on Wall’s ability to hold others accountable.
As you can tell, there’s plenty of possible negatives in acquiring Wall. The thing is, none of that might matter to Sarver and interim general manager James Jones. Sarver will always be attracted to players who bring “star value” to the table.
The Suns could view Wall as the dynamic pick-and-roll primary ball handler who helps Booker, Ayton and Co. take the next step. Wall also has a plus defensive profile, but it wanes plenty depending on what’s going on with Washington.
What would be a trade that makes sense, even with Wall’s eye-popping super-max extension? Well, here’s what I think it would take:
John Wall for Ryan Anderson, Elie Okobo and 2020 Bucks pick
This works for the Suns, because they don’t lose any of their valuable young core pieces. Wall’s albatross is offloaded with the Wizards taking back Anderson. It also peaks Washington’s interest, because they still get back their possible point guard of the future (Okobo had a pre-draft workout there, not De’Anthony Melton) on top of another first-round pick.
Does this classify as the Wizards’ get out of jail free card? Their books would be cleared around Beal and Porter by 2020. Resetting, while also disposing their most distressed asset, makes a lot of sense from Washington’s point of view.
What might hold up this deal is Wall’s trade kicker, though. Unless he waived it, which seems unlikely, the Wizards would have to pay a large lump sum — 15 percent of Wall’s contract — to send him packing. Wall for Anderson and Okobo still works in the summer, too. Phoenix has to decide by July 10 whether they will waive and stretch Anderson’s contract ($5.2 million annual for three years) or guarantee his $21 million salary instead. We all know that stretching is the logical answer, but moving him while gaining a star-level player could intrigue the Suns’ front office.
Moving forward, Phoenix would be cap strapped locking in a group spearheaded by Booker, Ayton, Wall, Bridges, Warren, Jackson, and whoever is selected in the 2019 Draft.
Is that a title contender? No. Is that a playoff team? Absolutely, dependent upon how Ayton develops.
I think this fact should be known: Beal is a way better player than Wall. Sure, he’s not as good of an on-ball defender, but he makes up for it with his sweet shooting stroke alongside possible untapped playmaking potential within a pass-heavy system like Igor Kokoskov deploys.
So far this season, Beal has averaged 21.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 3.5 assists. His three-point shooting numbers are slacking, but so are Booker’s at the moment. Rewinding to last season, Beal hit on 42.2 percent of his catch-and-shoot opportunities from deep. Since 2013, Beal converts on 41.2 percent of these looks.
That’s an elite shooter who seems ready to thrive once he dons another jersey, which is why he is way more of a tantalizing fit for me compared to Wall. The Ringer’s Jonathan Tjarks suggested on Locked On Suns in July that Phoenix should try to swing a trade for Portland’s CJ McCollum. Why not get a player who’s better in almost every facet of the game in Beal instead?
Beal’s contract also is way more appealing, because he actually makes less money than Booker next season. Under contract through the 2021 season, with a player option included, Beal allows the Suns flexibility to still find their eventual starting point guard via free agency or trade in the summer.
There’s a plausible scenario where Beal and Booker are flanked by a defensive-minded playmaker at the point, while Bridges covers for them on the wing as well. The thing is, how is it possible?
Well, here’s what I think it would have to take from Phoenix’s side to get a deal done:
Bradley Beal for Trevor Ariza, Josh Jackson, 2019 Suns pick, 2020 Bucks pick
You’re probably wondering why it would take the Suns’ pick this year, which could land in the top three or five. Well, Beal will have high value around the league — way more than anything Wall or Porter could ever bring them. If the Wizards actually want to do a full-scale rebuild, trading Beal might be the most logical step in order to replenish their roster with young players and future assets.
From the Suns’ side, why not go all-in on a Rockets-esque style without the absurd amounts of isolation?
Trotting out a starting lineup next season of ?-Booker-Beal-Bridges-Ayton would lack size, but would make up for it with lights out shooting surrounding their No. 1 pick. Whoever Phoenix signed or traded for to fill the PG void — Malcolm Brogdon makes a lot of sense in this scenario as a restricted free agent target — would be the fifth scoring option. All they would have to do is focus on defense while Booker, Beal, and Ayton handle the scoring burden.
Beal makes this team an immediate playoff contender next season, while allowing wiggle room to still change the roster around him. While it might not be as splashy as Wall, it’s the way smarter route to go down. The former Florida Gator fits the criteria when it comes to age, because he just turned 25 this past June.
I wouldn’t even hesitate that much if Beal could be acquired around a package of Ariza/Jackson/picks. The potential with Beal alongside Phoenix’s young core outshines Wall, in my opinion.
I’ve alluded to the panic trade from the Suns, especially after their horrific stretch the past few weeks. The thing is, over the past few games at least, Phoenix seems to be turning a corner even with no viable backcourt answer. Kokoskov has already turned to Point Book in the meantime, which flashed positive results in Philadelphia on Monday.
Either Wall or Beal would qualify as the panic trade, but also the star move Sarver and Jones seem to be positioning themselves to make. It might be the perfect time to strike for Phoenix when realizing they won’t be able to attract max-quality free agents after another disappointing season.
Washington is ready to slide down the ranks, while Phoenix wants to ascend. Don’t be surprised if you hear the Suns inquiring on either Wall or Beal.
NBA trade season is quickly approaching, and the Suns still don’t have positive production out of their backcourt outside of Booker. Are we on a collision course with these two teams before February’s deadline? Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised one bit.
Should the Suns call the Wizards about John Wall or Bradley Beal?
This poll is closed
No, neither fits in Phoenix