Fischer’s Latest: Beal, Wizards, Pelicans, Hawks, Ujiri

Reiterating a point made by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Friday and Wizards head coach Scott Brooks on Saturday, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report confirms that Bradley Beal is not available via trade, citing one longtime executive who notes that the team’s stance on the matter appears sincere and isn’t a bluff to drive up the guard’s price.

Despite there being no change in Beal’s potential availability, it continues to be a popular subject of speculation around the NBA. As Fischer explains, opposing front offices anticipate an “inevitable inflection point,” since there’s an expectation that the Wizards won’t be able to transform into a contender before Beal becomes eligible for free agency in 2022.

That inflection point isn’t here yet though, and the expectation is that it won’t arrive prior to this season’s trade deadline. According to Fischer, there’s a sentiment around the league that, regardless of Washington’s record, team ownership is unlikely to approve a Beal trade until the 2021 offseason at the very earliest.

“Teams say it all the time, but you feel like it’s real,” one assistant GM told Fischer, referring to the Wizards’ unwillingness to engage.

Here are a few more items of note from Fischer’s latest report:

  • New Orleans’ interest in Beal is one of the “biggest open secrets” around the league, according to Fischer, who suggests that the Pelicans and Hawks could be among the potential suitors for the Wizards guard if he eventually hits the trade block. Washington had been eyeing Onyeka Okongwu with the No. 9 pick in the 2020 draft before Atlanta scooped him up at No. 6, Fischer notes.
  • The Hawks “widely signaled” prior to draft night in the fall that Kevin Huerter was available via trade, per Fischer. It’s unclear whether the team’s stance has changed at all since then or if Huerter will be a trade candidate at next month’s deadline.
  • Word in NBA circles is that the Wizards may try to make another run at Masai Ujiri this summer, according to Fischer, who says the franchise has some deep-pocketed minority stakeholders interested in pursuing the Raptors‘ president of basketball operations. Although the Wizards denied it at the time, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported in June 2019 that the club was ready to make an aggressive offer to Ujiri, whose contract with Toronto expires later this year.
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