Sitting at 2-8, the Toronto Raptors appear to be a piece or two away from being true title contenders. For a while, it seemed as though James Harden could be that missing piece. If Toronto really wanted to contend this year, maybe they’d pony up the asking price for the Houston Rockets’ superstar. But with trade rumours subsiding out of Houston, the NBA has turned its attention to another star who could be up for grabs this season: enter Bradley Beal trade rumours.
Unlike Harden, Beal has not expressed any frustrations with his Washington Wizards. Instead, he’s languished away, averaging a league-leading 34.9 points per game on the 3-8 Wizards.
Washington is a team slightly in between eras, not quite out of the John Wall-Beal era— which has become the Russell Westbrook-Beal era — but not quite into their next competitive window built around rookie Deni Avdija, sophomore Rui Hachimura, and the now-injured 23-year-old Thomas Bryant. Considering the future in Washington seems to be more closely tied to the latter group than the former, it’s hard, as Sports Illustrated writer Michael Pina points out, to see Beal re-signing with the Wizards when he can opt-out of his contract in 2023.
“Instead, the time is ripe for star and franchise to part ways,” Pina writes. “With so many teams believing they can win the 2021 NBA title, a trade makes sense for both parties.
“The most-likely suitors are usual suspects: Golden State, Miami, Brooklyn, Denver, Philadelphia and maybe even Toronto.”
A week or two ago it might have made sense for the Raptors to try and shake things up by adding another offensively explosive player. It’s been their offence, after all, that’s been the biggest contributor to their 2-8 start. But now, the Raptors seem to be on the verge of heading in another direction.
It’s hard to see Washington taking anything less than Pascal Siakam and that seems to be more of a lateral move than anything else. Would a trade centred around OG Anunoby, Malachi Flynn, and some picks get it done for Washington? Probably not. And would Toronto want to move future assets to try and win now all while staring down a 2-8 start to the season? Again, unlikely.
If Toronto gets things back on track this season, maybe they’d pivot again when the trade deadline comes and try to be buyers. But until then, any Beal to the Raptors rumours seem highly unlikely.