Charlotte Hornets, Washington Wizards

Hornets trying to trade for Bradley Beal, but how can it work?

Bradley Beal might be the easiest player for the Washington Wizards to trade, and the Charlotte Hornets are trying to form a dynamic backcourt.

The Washington Wizards are a picture of dysfunction right now, and they may be willing to trade virtually anyone.

Breaking up the backcourt tandem of John Wall and Bradley Beal is at the forefront, but Wall’s looming max contract makes him virtually untradeable. Multiple teams may start lining up for Beal, and according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, the Charlotte Hornets have inquired about the 25-year old shooting guard.

The Hornets are 8-8 so far. Kemba Walker off to a good start (a league-leading 29.6 points per game, along 6.1 assists and 4.4 rebounds per contest), with 60 and 43 points in the last two games. Walker is also in the final year of his contract, and while he has said the right things about wanting to stay in Charlotte, a lot can change a lot between now and the summer.

Trading for Beal is a multi-year proposition, as he has three years and over $81 million left on his contract. That salary will have to be matched in a trade, which will be a challenge, and the inclusion of a future first-round pick seems sure.

But can the Hornets pull off a trade for Beal?

Using ESPN’s Trade Machine, there’s a quick match. The Hornets can send swingman Nicolas Batum, and the three years left on his bloated contract (player option for 2020-21), in a simple one-for-one for Beal. But Batum is having a down year, averaging 9.1 points per game, and he’s in the midst of a downturn (7.0 points per game, 38.5 percent from the floor over the last seven games). So the Wizards probably wouldn’t want him, without the inclusion of multiple first-round picks.

A far more realistic offer for Beal from Charlotte would be shooting guard Jeremy Lamb and center Bismack Biyombo, probably with a first-round pick. Lamb is having another solid season thus far, averaging 13.7 points per game, and his expiring contract might appeal to the Wizards. Biyombo has barely played so far this season, and the Hornets surely want to shed his salary.

Power forward Marvin Williams and small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist would also work in a two-for-one, but Washington definitely should aim for better players and the Hornets know it would take more to get Beal. Biyombo and 2017 lottery pick Malik Monk would also work in a deal for Beal, also with a first-round pick as a likely addition to the deal.

Lamb, Monk, and Kidd-Gilchrist would also match up in a trade for Beal, but that may be a slight step too far for the Hornets.

The Hornets are in the middle of the pack in 3-point percentage (35.4 percent) so far this season, while averaging the sixth-most attempts (34.9 per game). They’re also in the top-10 of the league in scoring (115 points per game; eighth).  Beal is averaging 21.8 points per game this year, but with a notable drop in 3-point percentage (33.1 percent) and a slight bump in volume (7.5 attempts per game).

Beal is used to playing next to a ball-dominant point guard, and Walker’s career usage rate (26.8 percent) is almost the same as Wall’s (27.3 percent). A correction back to more typical proficiency from beyond the arc may be coming anyway, and simply being away from a long-strained relationship with Wall might benefit Beal greatly.

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The Hornets’ interest in Beal is easy to explain, as they consider adding talent for right now alongside a plan to re-sign Walker. They have some options to make a deal, but Washington should also find some better offers out there. Hornets’ fans shouldn’t get too excited yet, but it’s easy to dream about Walker and Beal teaming up to form one of the best backcourts in the league.

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