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For The Golden State Warriors, A Bradley Beal Trade Makes Financial And Basketball Sense

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at July 24, 2021

The Golden State Warriors’ offseason leapt into life this week when The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson reported that Washington’s All-NBA guard Bradley Beal sits atop their wishlist. The idea of pairing Beal with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green is certainly intriguing on the basketball court. But the financial implications may also push the Warriors to make a deal if it’s on the table.

The price should be right for both teams

Any deal for the Warriors would be centred around James Wiseman, the 7th and 14th pick in the 2021 draft, and future draft picks. The Warriors previously traded their 2024 pick to Memphis, complicating matters somewhat, but if the trade occurs after the draft they’ll be able to add in their own 2022 pick, pick swaps in 2023 and 2025, and potentially another first round pick in 2026.

They’ll need salary ballast, and Andrew Wiggins’ contract is the obvious match. That in itself may cause a bit of an issue as despite a good season for the Warriors his value around the league still doesn’t match the $65.2M left on his deal. However, with only two years to run it’s not the crippling contract it once was.

To date Beal has not demanded a trade, and may never do so. But he only has one year left on his contract before he can opt to become a free agent and the Wizards don’t appear to be going anywhere fast. If they do decide to go down the rebuilding route, then that’s a pretty good offer. As long as Beal is willing to commit to the Warriors beyond this season, then a deal makes sense for both sides.

The basketball fit is good for Beal and the Warriors

The Warriors managed to fashion a top-5 defense this season behind a resurgent Draymond Green, and with improvement from Wiggins, who was previously regarded as a poor defender. It was the offensive end where the problems lay, despite Curry’s epic season for the ages.

Adding Beal might not be quite as seamless as the Warriors 2016 addition of Kevin Durant, but alongside Curry and Thompson the offensive depth and talent level would be off the charts. Beal can play on and off the ball, create for others and himself, and make shots from pretty much anywhere. With the spacing created by playing alongside Curry and Thompson, and the offensive load lightened, it’s reasonable to expect his efficiency numbers, particularly from long range, to tick up as well.

The question marks come on the defensive end of the floor. However Beal has decent length, with a 6-foot-8 wingspan, and not having to carry an entire team’s offense will mean he’s got more energy to expend on the defensive end. Earlier in his career Beal was a solid defender on a Washington team that made the playoffs. If the Warriors can unlock that version of Beal on defense, they should be ok. And while it bumps Thompson up a position in the rotation, he’s likely to need to be primarily a wing defender anyway, transitioning away from guarding smaller, quicker players as he returns from two serious leg injuries.

In the NBA good offense usually beats good defense. That’s not to say the Warriors won’t still need to fashion a top-ten defense out of their roster to seriously contend, but with Beal in tow their offensive problems would be well and truly solved.

Off the court, the price is definitely right

A Beal deal pays off big for the Warriors financially. They are currently facing an enormous luxury tax bill in 21/22 as they hit the repeater tax. The table below sets out various offseason scenarios, and the resulting luxury tax bills.

As the table shows if the Warriors just keep their draft picks, use their taxpayer Mid Level Exception (MLE) and fill out the roster with veteran minimums they’re looking at an eye-popping combined salary and luxury tax bill of over $380M next season. If they wanted to bring back Kelly Oubre, or use his contract in a sign-and-trade to bring back a player making a similar amount, that number increases almost $460M. That is well above the financial limits GM Bob Myers spoke of at the end of the season.

Contrast that with a scenario involving a Beal trade. If they make the trade as set out and use the taxpayer MLE their bill drops down to $305M, a saving of over $75M from the corresponding scenario without a trade.

Alternatively they could bring back Kelly Oubre instead of using the taxpayer MLE and still be below where they would be without a trade. Given the defensive challenges they might face, having Oubre as a defensive wing soaking up the minutes could be the answer to their problems. If Oubre isn’t up for returning, they could still try to create a traded player exception for that amount which they can use later on to add talent.

What’s more adding the taxpayer MLE on top of that costs a total of $407M, just north of the $400M limit Myers talked of, but not so far north that you couldn’t imagine Warriors CEO Joe Lacob signing off on something that could mean another championship ring.

All in all, the Golden State Warriors have more than just basketball reasons to pursue a Bradley Beal trade this week.


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