Bradley Beal

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Schmeelk: Knicks Should Make Offer On Bradley Beal

Guard Could Be Cornerstone For Franchise With Porzingis

John Schmeelk
November 20, 2018 - 11:55 am
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On Monday, both ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and The Athletic's Shams Charania reported that the Washington Wizards are open for business and willing to trade any of the players on their team, including stars John Wall and Bradley Beal. Should the Knicks make a phone call?

Not for John Wall. While Wall is still a high-level point guard, his contract that kicks in next season makes him a toxic asset. He will start to earn money on his four-year, $169 million contract extension, making $37 million, $40 million, $43 million and $46 million at ages 29-32. The contract would destroy future flexibility for the Knicks and trap them in mediocrity.

As everyone around the league has seen from his time with the Wizards, Wall is not good enough to carry a team deep into the playoffs on his own. He also has a balky knee and is a central figure in the team-chemistry issues for the Wizards. Washington will likely have trouble giving away Wall without taking on other toxic assets in return. The Knicks should stay away.

Beal is a different story. In general, the Knicks are not in position to trade off a lot of young assets for a high-priced veteran. They are not one player away from being a contender and need to keep as many assets and cap space to give them flexibility for future moves. Beal, however, might be an exception.

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He is an ascending player in his seventh year and is just 25 years old. He is in his prime and getting paid just about what he is worth at $25 million this season, $27 million next year and just under $29 million in 2020-21. These are Beal’s numbers in his last two full seasons in the NBA:

2017-2018: 22.6 PPG, .460/.375/.791, 6.5 3PA, 4.5 FTA, 4.4 reb, 4.5 assists, 1.2 steals, 2.6 TO

2016-2017: 23.1 PPG, .482/.404/.825, 7.2 3PA, 4.4 FTA, 3.1 reb, 3.5 assists, 1.1 steals, 2.0 TO

Beal is an efficient player who defends (ranked 45th of 89 shooting guards in defensive real plus-minus last season), and can also create for his teammates with the ball in his hands. He is the ideal shooting guard in the modern NBA with two more years of control after this season. There’s also a chance he can handle more usage on a more regular basis if he gets away from a ball-dominant player such as Wall.

One small red flag regarding Beal is injuries. He only missed five games in his last two full NBA seasons, but in his first four seasons, he missed 81 games due to injury. As players get older and stronger they are more apt to be able to survive the rigors of an NBA season, and it looks like Beal has moved past his injury problems.

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Despite the reports of dysfunction in Washington, Beal seems to be more a victim of the circumstances there than a cause. Wall and now Dwight Howard are much larger parts of the problem, and there are not many around the league who would call Beal a bad teammate.

The Knicks making a phone call on Beal is the easy part. Deciding what to offer is far more difficult. New York is in a situation in which it has the salaries to match Beal’s contract and offer the Wizards some cap relief and future assets to accelerate their rebuild. The Knicks' offer should be something similar to what Bryan Gibberman (@BryanGibberman) put up on Twitter on Monday.

Before figuring out the young assets, the salaries have to match. In order for the trade to work for the Knicks, Tim Hardaway Jr. needs to be included. If he isn’t and the Knicks instead send some kind of combination of Enes Kanter and Courtney Lee, they would lose any ability this summer to sign a max free agent. Once Porzingis signs his maximum rookie extension, their cap space moving forward would be extremely tenuous. They would be stuck with Beal, Porzingis and whatever players are left on the roster and added in future drafts. It would be nearly impossible to build a winning team. 

The way the Knicks maximize their future cap space is to force the Wizards to take Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee, since both players are signed beyond this season. The Knicks would maintain their space for a max player in the summer of 2019. It might be a tough sell for the Wizards (who would also send power forward Markieff Morris back to the Knicks to match salary), and they might walk away from the table. But it is the deal that makes sense for the Knicks. In order to entice Washington, which would not get its desired cap savings, the Knicks would have to include young players and future assets.

They would probably have to start by offering Washington either Kevin Knox or Frank Ntilikina, whichever they prefer. In addition, a future draft pick with protections would have to be included as well. If it is a 2019 pick, it would have to have a minimum of top-10 protection, but preferably top 15. Protection would then decrease as future years go by. It’s a high price, but Beal could be a cornerstone for the franchise to play along with Porzingis and whomever else the Knicks add as a free agent this summer. It would also make the Knicks a more attractive destination for free agents this summer.

The Wizards would certainly try to get more, but that’s where the Knicks should draw the line. If the trade happens, great. If it doesn’t, the Knicks should move on with their current plan in place. Players of Beal’s caliber and youth are hard to find, and the Knicks should explore any possibilities that might present themselves.

You can follow me on Twitter for everything on Knicks, Giants and the world of sports @Schmeelk.​