The LA Clippers Need to Trade for Bradley Beal

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 09: Washington Wizards Guard Bradley Beal (3) looks on before an NBA game between the Washington Wizards and the Los Angeles Clippers on December 9, 2017 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 09: Washington Wizards Guard Bradley Beal (3) looks on before an NBA game between the Washington Wizards and the Los Angeles Clippers on December 9, 2017 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

While all eyes are seemingly on Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant in free agency, trading for Bradley Beal may be the key to the LA Clippers’ off-season.

While most of the chatter surrounding the LA Clippers about the upcoming off-season centers around their potential signing of either one or two of the marquee free agents available, free agency should not be the only avenue the team explores.

The trade market may prove to be vital to the team’s plan to build a perennial championship contender. The team remains a dark horse in the Anthony Davis sweepstakes, but a trade for Davis would more than likely require the Clippers to part with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Montrezl Harrell, both highly talented, young players that were integral pieces to the team’s success last year.

There is, however, another young star that could find themselves on the trade market this summer that the Clippers should absolutely make a priority: Bradley Beal.

Beal is a perfect complementary star to either of the primary free agent targets this summer. He is coming off of a season where he averaged 25.6 points per game while being the focal point of a Wizards team that was marred by injury all season. He was able to navigate the extra attention with efficiency while attacking all three levels of a defense. He shot 69.7% within three feet of the basket, a career high, and over 46% on mid-range attempts.

While he had a slight dip from his career 38.4% shooting percentage from three, he was still able to hit 35% of his threes on a career high volume of attempts. His 5.5 assists and 5 rebounds per game were also career highs, showing an all around growth to his game that cements his status as a star level player in the NBA.

While there has been some concern over Beal’s durability, he has only missed 5 games over the last three years of his career, played in all 82 the last two years, and has never played less than 55 games in any given season. Beal also has 40 games of playoff experience, where he averaged 22.7 points per game on 44% from the field and 36.3% from three.

He is a seven year veteran that only turns 26 in June, so he could be a piece that helps the Clippers contend not only next year, but for many years to come. He also has two years remaining on his contract, mitigating some of the risk that is typically assigned to the one year rentals that usually flood the trade market.

A package for Beal would more than likely look something like this:

Beal for Danilo Gallinari, either Landry Shamet or Jerome Robinson, Philadelphia’s 2020 first round pick, and Miami’s 2021 first round pick.

If Shamet were to be included, it would likely have to be in a separate deal involving either cash or a swap of second rounders as he cannot be traded with another player due to him being acquired while the Clippers were over the cap. While this package may seem like a lot to give up, it is the type of package required to acquire a star, which Beal undoubtedly is.

Losing Shamet, who has quickly become a fan favorite, may sting, but he is only three years younger than Beal and his ceiling would more than likely be lower than what Beal could bring to the team right now. Gallinari is coming off a career year, but has only one year remaining on his contract and still brings the risk of his injury history, having only played more than 70 games twice in his career. Philadelphia’s pick projects to be somewhere in the 20’s next season, which is a solid, but not franchise changing asset. The Miami pick has been vaunted as the prize of the Tobias Harris trade this season, but may not be as sterling in practice as it is in theory.

Miami will carry most of its core from this year’s team into the 2020-2021 season, and will also open up cap space that year, barring a trade for a max level player before then. While the current team is not a contender, it will more than likely not bottom out before that pick conveys. The allure of the pick also lies in the fact that it may be the first year high school players will be draft eligible again. While that continues to be a tantalizing asset, losing it may not hurt as much as it may seem.

While the Clippers’ front office has seemingly made all the right moves to set up the team for success, the NBA is still a star driven league. A team needs multiple stars and a strong supporting cast to contend for a championship. A deal like the one above for Beal would not only see the Clippers acquire a star, but it would also allow the Clippers to do so while keeping most of its $50 plus million in cap space. That would allow the team to sign one of the marquee free agents, while also bringing back key contributors Patrick Beverley and JaMychal Green. It could also give them the flexibility to bring back Ivica Zubac and Garrett Temple, or to pursue a secondary free agent like Derrick Favors.

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The Clippers future is indeed bright. Adding a player the caliber of Beal, while also keeping financial flexibility, could make it that much brighter.