With the NBA Finals over, basketball fans are not only preparing for next week’s draft, they’re also ready for some blockbuster trades to happen.
It’s that time of year.
On Wednesday, Shams Charania reported that Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards have agreed to “work together” in order to find a trade destination for the scoring guard should the organization choose “to reset the roster in the near future.”
The Wizards have not won more than 43 games since 2016-17, when they won their division and finished fourth in the conference in Scott Brooks’ first year at the helm. The following season they made the playoffs again, but missed the next two opportunities. Then Brooks barely got them in there once more before a first round exit and a dismissal of the head coach. With Wes Unseld Jr. there, they have won just 35 games in each of the previous two seasons.
In other words, a lot of people are fairly convinced they’re on the verge of a total reset.
One day after Charania reported on the future of Beal and the Wizards, he noted that he and Sam Amick were being told by sources that the Kings have engaged with Washington about trade talks, adding that Beal would “consider” the third seed out of the Western Conference.
While that caught eyes and made some fans’ hearts skip a beat by the mere mention of a guy who was recently a 30-plus point per game scorer, the reality of that would-be deal is not as glossy as its veneer.
First of all, Charania highlighted that “there does not appear a clear pathway for the two sides” in a Kings-Wizards trade. For this upcoming season, Beal would be entering the second year of a galactic-sized 5-year, $251 million contract.
But he’s one of the best offensive players in the league, right?
He was. Beal turns 30 at the end of the month, which doesn’t exactly fit the timeline of Sacramento’s core of guys in their mid-twenties.
This isn’t just about age either. The three-time all-star guard has had issues staying on the floor. He appeared in just 50 games this past season and just 40 the season before, so he’s played just over a season’s worth of basketball in the last two years.
And to top it off, while Beal would still be an offensive asset despite the fact he’s averaged just over 23 points per game—not 30-plus—the past two seasons, he would not help the league’s 24th ranked defense. The Kings were the best offense last season, and in the quest to improve the net rating, the defensive end of the floor has to be the main focus, and Bradley Beal would not lend much to that effort.
In all, it’s likely Sacramento’s front office is well aware that Beal is not worth future assets.
But this doesn’t mean Kings fans can’t continue to engage with the trade discourse. That’s because there is someone who is worth future assets, someone who checks many of the boxes Beal is incapable of checking, and someone who has been on the radar for a while.
Less than an hour after Charania’s tweet on Thursday, Damien Barling of ESPN 1320 reported that sources have indicated that the team is “aggressively” pursuing OG Anunoby of the Raptors.
This interested in OG Anunoby has been a matter that’s hovered about for some time now. Six months ago, Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus posited that Toronto may want to makes some moves regarding players that may be beyond the timeline of then-reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes, who is 21. Among such hypothetical trades was moving Anunoby, and Pincus listed the Kings as one of many interested parties.
The fit, particularly on the defensive end, would be undeniably good. Anunoby was on the NBA’s All-Defensive Second Team this season. Furthermore, he led the league in steals, he’s a career 37.5% three-point shooter (38.7% this season), and with him turning 26 next month, he more than fits Monte McNair’s envisioned timeline.
It’s clear his versatility and athleticism would be an ideal upgrade over the solid Harrison Barnes. Due to that, it’s easy to imagine the Kings parting with valuable assets. Such assets would include their 2028 first round pick (it can’t be earlier due to the Kevin Huerter trade), and after next week’s draft, the 2030 first rounder can come into play too.
Considering that it’s unlikely Sacramento wants to part with Keegan Murray, it’s probable that it would take multiple first’s to get this deal done. Heightening the likelihood that multiple first’s will be used is the idea of killing two birds with one stone by shipping off Richaun Holmes’ contract in the deal, which is a large priority and would certainly require both were it to happen.
Sacramento would only have the 2028 and 2030 first round picks at their disposal (remember, the Stepien Rule dictates a team shall not be without a first round selection in consecutive drafts, so 2029 is out of the question).
But with the notion of securing Holmes’ place in the deal, it’s growing increasingly likely that the Kings will have to part with not only two first-rounders, but also maybe a player like Davion Mitchell as well. If that were to be the case, the young point guard would definitely interest Toronto, particularly with Fred VanVleet hitting free agency.
For context, Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell—who, admittedly, may be in a tier just above Anunoby—was acquired in a deal that sent three first-round picks to Utah, in addition to Lauri Markkanen. Prior to that, the Rudy Gobert deal landed the Jazz four first round picks.
With the pursuit characterized as being aggressive, the Kings must be aware of this and therefore must be willing to sacrifice some value.
Such a move projects to require parting from some significant assets, but a deal that sends OG Anunoby to the Sacramento Kings not only makes for a near-flawless fit, it is more than feasible.