The 2021 trade deadline came and went without anything to drastically change the Celtics’ ceiling as a championship threat.
But, as always, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge may have his sights set on a new offseason target: Washington’s Bradley Beal.
“There’s still a real chance Beal stays in Washington for years to come, but as the Wizards rack up losses, teams like the Heat are waiting to pounce,” The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor wrote. “In addition to Miami, multiple league sources say the Celtics, Knicks, and Pelicans are among the teams with interest in pursuing a deal for Beal.”
As noted by O’Connor, Beal’s ties to the Wizards run deep. A nine-year veteran, and drafted by the Wizards with the No. 3 overall pick, Beal’s said that he would like to finish his career with the Wizards. But the Wizards have failed to make it past the second round during Beal’s nine-season run in town, and have missed the playoffs in two straight seasons (and look primed for a third straight miss), so time may be of the essence. Especially if Beal doesn’t believe that the Wizards, who swapped John Wall for Russell Westbrook in the offseason, have any hope of turning the corner.
“League sources say [Beal]’s decision to play through this season without making a trade request is as much a commitment to see things through this season with Russell Westbrook as it is about waiting until the worst of the coronavirus pandemic passes in the United States before making a life-altering decision,” O’Connor wrote.
Averaging a career-high 31.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, along with a career-best 48.5 field goal percentage, through 41 games this season, Beal would bring a tremendous upgrade to the Celtic backcourt. He’s also signed through next season, and has a player option for 2022-23 for over $37 million.
Whether or not the Celtics have the assets to pull off a move for Beal is the real question.
But one thing they may have working in their favor? Beal’s relationship with Celtics star Jayson Tatum. Lifelong friends from the St. Louis area, the Beal and Tatum goes way, way, way back. And the two finally got to share the court together during the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, which came with Beal outright thrilled with the ‘fun’ opportunity.
“That’s my brother,” Beal said of Tatum. “That’s my brother forever. It was very unique and awesome to be able to share the floor with him and for us both to get going. We’ve never been on the same team. That in itself an honor.”