Miami Heat lose out on Wizards’ Bradley Beal as three-time All-Star guard dealt to Phoenix Suns
MIAMI — For the Miami Heat, the pursuit of Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal ultimately turned into a rerun of the team’s pursuit of when Kevin Durant last season distanced himself from the Brooklyn Nets — in each case, losing out to the Phoenix Suns.
Beal, according to multiple NBA sources, on Sunday agreed to waive his no-trade clause to go from the Wizards to the Suns, with the Heat having stood as the other finalist in the trade negotiations.
Now the question is whether Pat Riley and the Heat front office hedged their pursuit of Beal because of greater focus on potentially landing Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard.
Asked about the Heat’s approach with Beal, a party familiar with the talks on Sunday told the South Florida Sun Sentinel to “think bigger.”
Lillard would be bigger, but unlike Beal has yet to hit the trade market.
Lillard has spoken of possibly seeking relocation should Portland be unable to reconstruct the team’s roster into a contender, with the Heat high on the list of possible landing spots.
In the wake of Beal utilizing his no-trade clause to reportedly limit his pathways out of Washington to the Heat or Suns, both ESPN and The Athletic reported Sunday that Beal is headed to Phoenix, which acquired Durant in the middle of last season from the Nets.
In what ultimately turned into a Wizards priority of a salary-cap dump that involved taking on no salary beyond the next season, Washington prioritized the coming season’s expiring contracts of guard Chris Paul and Landry Shamet, as well as a package of mostly second-round picks.
With Beal headed elsewhere, the Heat’s prime trade chips, including the expiring $29.7 million salary of guard Kyle Lowry, remain available to balance a trade under the salary cap, as do the salaries of Victor Oladipo and Duncan Robinson.
In addition, while the Heat declined to put the contract of guard Tyler Herro into play in a package for Beal, a package for Lilliard could yet center around Herro, whose salary cannot be utilized in a trade until July 1.
Unlike Beal, Lillard does not hold a no-trade clause, but his previous loyalty to the Trail Blazers could assist in landing in a preferred destination. Lillard has spoken of his respect and friendship for Heat center Bam Adebayo, a teammate on the USA Basketball gold-medal roster at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
The Heat have been linked to several significant moves in the wake of losing the NBA Finals 4-1 last week to the Denver Nuggets.
With Beal, who turns 30 on June 28, there was concern about a contract worth nearly $210 million over the next four seasons, with Beal’s no-trade clause accompanying him to his next stop.
For Oladipo to be included in a Heat deal, he has to formally opt into his 2023-24 salary.
Beal has played his entire NBA career with the Wizards after being selected No. 3 by Washington out of Florida in the 2012 NBA draft. While he has played 695 regular-season games, he has been limited to 45 career playoff appearances, just five (in 2021) since the 2018 postseason.
For his career, Beal holds a 22.1 scoring average, including 23.2 in 50 appearances this past season. He is a career .372 3-point shooter, averaging 2.2 3-pointers per game over his career.
As for Lillard, his status with the Trail Blazers could come into great focus based on what Portland does with its No. 3 pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft.