The Washington Wizards on Sunday agreed to trade Bradley Beal to the Phoenix Suns, quashing the Miami Heat’s hopes of landing the three-time All-Star. The Heat must now look elsewhere to acquire a high-end scoring talent.
According to multiple reports, the Wizards chose Phoenix’s package of Chris Paul, Landry Shamet, multiple second-round picks and pick swaps over a package offered by the Heat centered around Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson. It’s unclear what else, if any other players or picks, was included in the offer.
Via the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson:
"Sources close to Beal, the Heat and Wizards said Miami made an offer — which was believed to be built around Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson — but Phoenix was more aggressive pursuing the trade in recent days."
Under new owner Matt Ishbia, the Suns were more aggressive in their pursuit and will acquire the final four years, $207 million of Beal’s contract. Beal would have reportedly waived his no-trade clause for Phoenix or Miami, but Washington preferred Phoenix’s offer.
In the end, the Heat approached a Beal trade with some trepidation over thrusting themselves over the second luxury tax apron for at least the next two seasons. The Suns were less apprehensive, according to ESPN’s Brain Windhorst.
"It was a concern, for example, for the Miami Heat, another team that was a possible destination for Beal. So the Suns found themselves in a rare scenario, bidding for a three-time All-Star in a closed market. By Sunday, the Suns decided they were going for it."
The Wizards were reportedly seeking salary relief and draft capital, and Paul and Shamet are owed just $41 million in guaranteed salary, compared to $77 million for Lowry and Robinson. The Wizards may also try to reroute Paul to another team in a trade.
Now the Heat will turn their attention to Portland’s Damian Lillard. Lillard, who cannot be traded until July 9, has not asked the Trail Blazers for a trade but if he did the Heat and Brooklyn Nets would have interest in acquiring him.
By not trading for Beal, the Heat retain all of their assets, including Tyler Herro, the salaries of Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson, up to four first-round picks and two future second-round picks. The Nets have 11 first-round picks they can use in a deal.
For now, the Trail Blazers remain focused on retooling the roster around the 32-year-old Lillard. They have the No. 3 pick in Thursday’s draft, which has been the subject of much trade chatter around the league. If they trade the pick for veteran help, the likelihood of Lillard staying is higher. But if they use the third overall pick on a highly-touted prospect like Scoot Henderson or Brandon Miller, perhaps both parties will decide it best to part ways.
Lillard, coming off the best statistical season of his career, should be able to garner more than what Beal got back for the Wizards.
There is no indication yet that Lillard will ask for a trade, or that the Trail Blazers will seek to trade him.
Miami’s offseason rests on Lillard’s decision. He must be aware of the Heat’s interest, but he has also shown loyalty to Portland over his 11-year career. Depending on how Thursday’s draft plays out, and Portland’s moves around it, could determine Lillard’s future.
Beyond Lillard, there aren’t many other options at the level of Beal or Lillard. James Harden and Kyrie Irving are free agents, making it extremely difficult for the Heat to acquire either star guard. Because the Heat are over the cap, they don’t have any cap space to sign outside free agents to contracts exceeding the veteran minimum.
The Heat cannot execute a sign-and-trade because they would then be hard-capped at $169 million for the season. Miami’s payroll currently stands at $176 million, not including free agents Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, Kevin Love, Cody Zeller or Omer Yurtseven.
The Heat have the 18th pick in Thursday’s draft. Free agency begins at the end of the month.