Beal trade would ask Warriors to decide between Steph, future

Bradley Beal

Through 19 games, the Warriors sit at 10-9. They haven't won or lost three games in a row. They have been inconsistent, and, for lack of a better word, average.

Gone are the days of the four-minute blitzkrieg from Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant that would vaporize opponents in an instant. The NBA's bully has been shrunk down and become mortal, with Curry learning to play with a new supporting cast while Thompson rehabs a torn Achilles and Durant enjoys his new superteam in Brooklyn.

This iteration of the Warriors will hit their head on the ceiling in the second round of the playoffs. Even with Thompson back and healthy next season, the Warriors probably aren't a legitimate NBA Finals contender.

Curry will be 33 in March. He's poured his heart and soul into taking the Warriors from league bottom-feeder to historic dynasty. The Warriors put a plan in place for Curry to hand the baton off to rookie center James Wiseman and whatever elite prospect they draft with the Minnesota Timberwolves' top-three protected first-round pick in 2021.

But that plan, at least at the moment, doesn't end with Curry getting back to the Finals and holding another Larry O'Brien Trophy. At least not at the height of his powers.

The Warriors' limitations are clear at the moment, and they will have a franchise-altering decision to make should Bradley Beal demand a trade from the Washington Wizards.

Beal, 27, currently is leading the NBA in scoring at 35.4 points per game. The Wizards recently just lost the 10th straight game in which Beal has scored at least 40 points. While ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Thursday that NBA teams don't expect the Wizards to trade Beal soon, it's fair to surmise that the Florida product isn't long for the nation's capital.


If and when Beal becomes available, the Warriors will have to determine what means more to them: Maximizing the remaining years of Curry's prime or building for a future dynasty? It's becoming clear that it will be nearly impossible for them to do both.

Wiseman has shown impressive flashes early on in his NBA career. There's a reason the Warriors were salivating when the Timberwolves decided to draft Anthony Edwards at No. 1, allowing Wiseman to fall to Golden State at No. 2. There's every reason to believe Wiseman can grow into the generational center many believe he will become.

But the keyword is "grow." Wiseman only is 19 years old and played just three collegiate games. He's played just 22 games since graduating from high school. His development is going to happen incrementally. There will be nights like Wednesday when Wiseman dropped a career-high 25 on the Timberwolves, followed by nights where he racks up four fouls in 10 minutes and is stapled to the bench.

By the time Wiseman becomes the fully-fledged star many think he is destined to be, Curry's prime will be something that only can be viewed on YouTube.

The Warriors have two extremely valuable pieces in Wiseman and the Timberwolves' 2021 first-round pick. The Wizards, who are 3-11, need to undergo a full rebuild. The trade for Russell Westbrook hasn't worked out as planned. Washington has young pieces in Deni Avdija, Rui Hachimura and Thomas Bryant, but all three are destined to be part of a supporting cast. Adding Wiseman and two of the top prospects in the 2021 NBA Draft would give the Wizards a good young core to center their rebuild around.

Should Beal become available, the calculus for the Warriors boils down to their loyalty to Curry.

This season has seen Curry face every kind of janky defense teams could throw at him, making life impossibly hard on the two-time NBA MVP as Thompson watches from the bench. Kelly Oubre has been disappointing, and while Andrew Wiggins has been consistent, it's clear he's more suited for a complimentary role than an every night Robin to Curry's Batman.

It's easy to dismiss the idea of trading Wiseman, who has an incredibly high ceiling, and a top pick that could become Jalen Green, Jalen Suggs, Jonathan Kuminga or a number of other top prospects. The imagination runs wild. Right now, Wiseman and the 2021 draft pick are relative unknowns, their futures uncertain.

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But Beal is a known quantity. He's a 27-year-old sharpshooter with the ability to drop 50 on a given night. He wouldn't allow defenses to swarm Curry and would be a perfect third Splash Brother when Thompson returns next season. That's a deadly trio that would put the Warriors back in the thick of the NBA championship picture and allow them to truly rival the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and Brooklyn Nets.


That's something Curry deserves. As do Thompson and Draymond Green.

You can say there's no loyalty in sports, but the Warriors are loyal to the faces of their franchise. There's no doubt. Owner Joe Lacob and coach Steve Kerr don't want Curry to spend the remaining years as a top-five player slogging to a second-round playoff exit.

When this season ends, Curry will have had two years of his prime wiped out. One by injury and one by a combination of bad luck (Thompson's injury) and imperfect roster construction.

Restarting the dynasty was always going to be difficult. The idea of Curry, Thompson and Green both contending for more titles in their prime while also molding the next dynasty's pillars was always going to be a thin tightrope to walk. It's one the Warriors likely are destined to fall off of.

Superstars like Curry are the Halley's Comet of the NBA. It's greatness that is never duplicated and rarely finds the same franchise twice. When Curry calls it a career, the Warriors will want to look back and make sure they did everything they could to make the most out of the best shooter in NBA history. They can't have any "what ifs" or "should have beens."

So, the Warriors must decide, should Beal become available, if reigniting a dying star is worth sacrificing the birth of a new one.

The answer should be clear.

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