The Portland Trail Blazers could potentially find the missing piece they’ve been looking for in the form of the most talked about trade target of the summer.
“Just one piece away” is a phrase Portland Trail Blazers fans are likely sick and tired of hearing regurgitated year after year. Portland has made six consecutive postseason appearances — winning four playoff series in that time — and always seems right on the brink of true title contention.
It’s time to put that narrative to rest and consider a move that would elevate this team to a new level. A move like, say, trading for Bradley Beal?
While other teams like the Heat and Lakers would also be eager suitors for Beal should he hit the open trade market, the Blazers would have more to offer than either of them. Possessing all their future first-round picks and a promising young core, Portland could theoretically put together an extremely attractive package for the 26-year-old star.
Let’s look at the young assets the Portland Trail Blazers could put on the table.
- Anfernee Simons
- Zach Collins
- Nassir Little
- Gary Trent Jr.
- All first-round picks through 2026
Hassan Whiteside and Kent Bazemore also make for valuable trade chips to make salaries match up, but neither hold much true value barring a career renaissance. While the Blazers clearly have more to work with than other teams, would pulling the trigger on this deal even be worth it?
Beal’s natural position is shooting guard, the same spot in the rotation CJ McCollum fills. Beal is the superior player due to his ability on both ends of the court, but not by nearly a large enough margin to pull off this trade with the idea Beal would start at shooting guard. Besides, CJ is simply too talented to tie him down to the bench.
Instead, Beal would likely slide over to small forward. While he’ll be a little undersized for the position, he has shown the ability to switch onto wings in the past and defend them moderately well. Considering the Blazers will potentially roll Bazemore out on the wing for his defense anyways, playing the much more talented Beal there shouldn’t be too large of an issue.
What makes this hypothetical trade particularly interesting is the fact that Beal plays best off-ball. Adapting to the NBA next to John Wall perfectly trained Beal for playing in a system next to players like Damian Lillard and McCollum. Despite playing the most minutes of any NBA player last year (and travelling the second most miles on the court), Beal ranked 22nd in the league for usage rate.
This goes to show the unselfish brand of basketball Beal employs when on the court. Having a guy at the wing who can score 25 points a night with a career average of 38.4 percent from deep would be a luxury Dame and CJ have never experienced before. Beal had the 17th highest Offensive Box Plus/Minus last year, above players like Devin Booker (No. 19), Jimmy Butler (No. 28) and McCollum (No. 34). Lillard, Beal and McCollum would form the most lethal offensive trio in the league and would be near impossible to stop.
Not having to shoulder so much of the offensive load would also allow Beal to exert more energy on the defensive end, where he’s an above average one-on-one defender and wouldn’t be taken advantage of on that end. He would be a great improvement on both ends over someone like Rodney Hood, who is best utilized as a spark plug off the bench.
If the Portland Trail Blazers genuinely wish to make this the year they conquer the league and take home their first Larry O’Brien Trophy since 1977, taking a page out of Masai Ujiri’s playbook and making a bold move like acquiring Bradley Beal may be the only route to success.