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Why would Beal want the Suns? Why would the Suns want Beal with Book and KD?

More on the Suns and Bradley Beal.

Washington Wizards v Phoenix Suns Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

Yesterday, we shared Shams Charania’s report that the Phoenix Suns are one of two finalists in trade talks to acquire Bradley Beal from the Washington Wizards.

Since then, we’ve seen reports on why the Wizards are so interested in trading Beal in the coming days and we have seen frameworks of what the Suns are offering (Ayton plus Shamet or Paul plus Shamet) versus what Miami (Lowry + Robinson + future picks) is offering.

To set the stage for those out of the loop, the 29-year old Bradley Beal — who turns 30 on June 28 — is a three-time All-Star, one-time All-NBA guard with two seasons of 30+ point scoring, seven seasons of 22+ point scoring, six seasons is 4.4+ assists and five seasons of 4.2+ rebounds per game. He’s also on one of the biggest contracts in the history of the NBA, will be making $46 million this season and has requested a trade from a Wizards team that’s missed the playoffs for four straight seasons.

Beal is basically an older (age 29) version of Devin Booker who is further along in contract escalation. While Booker’s big third deal doesn’t kick in until this coming season, Beal will already be entering the second season of his.

Why NOW? Why not next month when free agency starts?

For the Wizards, they need clarity ahead of the 2023 NBA Draft. If they are going to rebuild, there’s a lot of decisions in play that come next week with other players on their roster, like Kyle Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis.

They could stand pat and try to upgrade around their big three of Beal, Kuz and KP. But Kuz and KP can both opt out of their final year in the coming days and become free agents, potentially giving the Wizards even less hope of making the playoffs in the coming year.

Free agents just simply don’t pick the Wizards.

Also, according to The Athletic article linked above, the Wizards are worried that Damian Lillard will hit the trade market next Thursday if the Blazers go ahead and pick a 19-year old in the draft. And if Lillard hits, what’s left of the Beal market dries up. Lillard is likely more attractive to teams like the Miami Heat despite being a half-decade older.

Beal wants to be traded, and the Wizards want to make a deal. Sounds like it’s going to happen by Thursday.

For the Suns, there’s a real desire to make big trades THIS month, when they can bring back up to 25% more salary than they send out. Starting July 1, that drops to 110% for all intents and purposes.

Why are the Suns the leader in this?

Beal has a no-trade-clause in his contract, meaning he can veto trades to teams he doesn’t want. So, the Wizards can’t just dump him to the highest bidder.

So now he’s got even more leverage than Chris Paul in 2020 and Kevin Durant in 2022, and reportedly he wants to go to the Suns to play with Booker and Kevin Durant, who already have the 2nd best betting odds in the West to make the Finals next year, and the 4th best betting odds to win the title.

And with Beal’s bloated contract, it doesn’t appear that any other teams really want to give assets back to the Wizards for him no matter how good he is at basketball.

Can the Suns afford Beal?

If the tone of Chandler Bing, can you BE any more top heavy? Adding $46 million Beal to KD and Book makes it even harder to fill out the rest of the roster.

The Suns simply have to trade/release both of Paul ($30.8 million next year) and Ayton ($32.46M) to make this deal palatable. Doesn’t mean they both go in the Beal deal. It only means that both need to be gone by early July when the Suns are still shopping to fill out the roster.

If the Suns bring in Beal and keep one of Paul or Ayton, they will have to fill out the remaining 11 positions with minimum-salary guys*. So, a lot like last year. And Beal is not necessarily more durable than Paul or Ayton were.

*The Suns will still have a $4.9 million trade exception from the Dario trade, which can be used to acquire a single player making that much or less.

If the Suns lower their overall salary cap after Beal, Paul AND Ayton trades, they can at least open up a $5 million taxpayer midlevel exception or even the larger $11 million exception, depending on how low they get.

Not a lot of spending power, Bob.

So, really, the Suns need to get all their firepower for next season in these Paul and Ayton trades, and then only do the finishing touches in free agency.

The best option is if somehow the Wizards take Paul and Shamet (to release them, even after fulling guaranteeing Paul’s $30.8 or enough of it to make the deal work), leaving the Suns to swap Ayton elsewhere.

In that case, the Suns could trade Ayton to a rebuilding/pre-playoff team who is willing to send back 2-3 younger, cost-controlled guys (James Jones loves acquiring guys a year ahead of their restricted free agency) and draft pick or two. It’s okay to downgrade from Ayton like that if you already have a Top-3 in place.

Why would the Suns want Beal the player?

Here’s a weird but obvious reason: his agent is Mark Bartelstein, the father of new Suns CEO Josh Bartelstein.

Here’s another reason: he’s the most talented #3 you’re going to find. Three-time All-Star. One-time All-NBA. Talented scorer, pretty good playmaker and three-level scorer.

But why would the Suns want to pair Booker with another Booker? Neither is a pure point guard, but both can and have averaged 5+ assists per game and are flanked by a Kevin Durant who also averages 4+ assists per game.

A new Suns team with Booker, Beal and Durant in the lineup would not only balance the scoring (they’d probably account for 80 points per game) but also balance the playmaking, while the other two positions on the floor would likely be catch-and-shoot or catch-and-finish types.

It’s what happens outside those three that would decide the Suns ultimate fate — either another second round exit or a championship.

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