If the Brooklyn Nets pursue Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal, the Denver Nuggets could get in on the trade and make it worth their while.
According to Stefan Bondy of the NY Daily News, the Brooklyn Nets have had internal discussions about acquiring Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal and forming a Big Three comprised of he, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. While the Nuggets would likely prefer to have Beal to themselves, adding a much-needed third star to their own core, there’s still a way to benefit from the Nets’ potential pursuit of Beal.
Beal will make $28.8 million next season, which is a lot of dough but well worth it when considering his playmaking abilities and explosive scoring. Because of Beal’s salary and star power, Denver could make an appealing case that adding themself as a third team in a hypothetical trade could make sense for both Washington and Brooklyn.
As it almost always happens, when a team like the Wizards surrenders a marquee player, there’s an expectation for the team that lands him to give up a bevy of first-round draft picks. The Nuggets could benefit the Nets by splitting the amount of first-round picks that Washington desires with Brooklyn.
In addition, rather than the Wizards acquiring one or both of Caris LeVert (who will make $16.2 million next season) and Spencer Dinwiddie (who will make $11.5 million next season), Denver could offer Washington a player that’s a better fit for the team.
The Wizards would be wise to obtain Dinwiddie, who has displayed an ability to play both guard positions and score at a high rate.
Due to star guard John Wall playing just 73 games over the past three seasons, Dinwiddie could provide Washington with an insurance policy if Wall goes down again while also helping lower Wall’s workload as the primary ball-handler. Should Wall return to prime form or anything close to it, Dinwiddie will be able to play beside him and be average around 20 points per game if he’s getting enough shots.
All for a bargain price, at that.
LeVert could also help Washington in the event that they’re unable to bring sharpshooting small forward Davis Bertans back in free agency.
Yet, given Wall’s injury history, LeVert making an average of $17.5 million over the next three seasons while only playing in 79 games over the past two seasons isn’t the safest or most cost-effective option for Washington. Though this would also be true for the Nuggets, if they were to take LeVert — an x-factor on offense — instead of the Wizards, they may be able to convince Washington to take Will Barton instead.
There’s minimal difference between the averages of Barton and LeVert this season but Barton has shown himself to be more durable than LeVert has over the course of his career, which should help persuade the Wizards to make the switch. In addition, Barton is a veteran whose experience will mesh well with that of Dinwiddie and Wall on the perimeter while rookie Rui Hachimura hopefully develops into a dominant force.
For the Nuggets, although Barton is a popular player in Denver, he’s also 29-years-old whereas LeVert is 25-years-old and fits the team’s youth much better. If you count Michael Porter Jr., the Nuggets have six players that are 25-years-old and younger. LeVert’s injury history is a cause for concern considering that of Gary Harris and MPJ.
Still, the potential starting lineup of MPJ, Harris, LeVert, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray would have plenty of time to grow together, even if Denver brings 35-year-old Paul Millsap back.
Averaging 17.7 points (while shooting 38.1% from 3-point range) and 4.1 assists per game this season, LeVert scored a career-high 51 points against the Boston Celtics on March 3.
Although LeVert is not yet considered a star, it was the type of performance that highlights his star potential.
As he’s gotten better every season since being drafted in 2016, the hope is that he doesn’t hit the type of Wall that Harris or even Barton seemed to hit but can become the type of offensive force that can consistently average at least 20 points per game. If he does that, then the Nuggets will have gotten themselves a steal.
Assuming that Millsap and forward Jerami Grant return next season, Denver will have eight players — nearly a full rotation — that they can rely on nightly. No more than they had with Barton in the picture but one who has yet to level out as a player, as Barton has, and fits in with the age group of the team’s young core as well.
Persuading the Nets and Wizards to let them have LeVert could turn out to be one of the smartest moves that Denver has made in recent years.