Jarace Walker

Raptors, Pacers Engaged In Serious Talks On Possible Siakam Trade

JANUARY 17: Several parties familiar with the negotiations between the Raptors and Pacers were surprised that the two teams didn’t finalize an agreement before Tuesday’s games begin, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.

One sticking point, per Fischer, has been Indiana’s unwillingness to include either of their two most recent lottery picks – Bennedict Mathurin and Jarace Walker – in a package for Siakam. Charania has also stated that the Pacers aren’t interested in giving up either of those young players (Twitter video link).

According to Fischer, the other pieces that would be sent to Toronto along with Brown in the latest framework of the proposed deal are Jordan Nwora and either Obi Toppin or Jalen Smith. Buddy Hield hasn’t been a part of the recent discussions between the two teams, says Fischer.

Fischer adds that two of the first-round picks in in Indiana’s proposal are 2024 selections (the Pacers’ own pick and a least favorable pick from Oklahoma City).


JANUARY 16: The Raptors and Pacers are engaged in serious talks about a potential trade that would send power forward Pascal Siakam to Indiana, The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Sam Amick report.

Indiana’s package would be built around swingman Bruce Brown, other salaries and three first-round draft picks, according to The Athletic’s duo.

The Raptors have discussed potential deals involving Siakam with several teams, but the talks with the Pacers have gained traction in recent days. They have yet to finalize or agree to a deal, although they are far along in the process, with proposals being made back and forth.

The Kings had pulled out of the Siakam sweepstakes in recent weeks, in part because the two-time All-NBA forward reportedly isn’t interested in re-signing with them after the season. The Warriors and Mavericks are among the other clubs that have expressed interest in the 29-year-old.

Siakam has an expiring $37.9MM contract and any acquiring team would want to have a strong indication if he’d commit to their organization beyond this season. Siakam is known to be seeking a max-salary deal and extension talks between the Raptors and his reps have not progressed in recent months.

Brown’s contract features a $22MM cap hit this season with a $23MM club option for 2024/25. Although Brown’s salary is well below Siakam’s, the Pacers have over $8MM in cap room and would only need to send out about $7.6MM in additional salary to make a deal legal, notes cap expert Yossi Gozlan (Twitter link).

As for the draft picks, the Pacers control all of their own future first-rounders, as well as a 2024 pick from Oklahoma City that includes “least favorable” language — it will almost certainly be either the Thunder’s or Clippers’ first-rounder.

The potential acquisition of Siakam would strengthen a Pacers starting lineup that also includes star guard Tyrese Haliburton — currently injured — and center Myles Turner and would make them a more dangerous playoff team.

Indiana reportedly made an effort to acquire OG Anunoby from Toronto before he was sent to New York.

Stein’s Latest: Hield, Wiggins, Finney-Smith, O’Neale, Fultz, McDermott, Osman

The Pistons and Wizards pulled off a trade involving four players and two draft picks on Sunday. Expect a lot more activity in the coming weeks, according to Marc Stein in his latest Substack post.

Stein offers a number of interesting tidbits from around the league:

  • Buddy Hield‘s name was prominently mentioned around the trade market after the veteran guard and the Pacers failed to reach an extension agreement during training camp. Sources tell Stein that Indiana continues to look for ways to move Hield. The Pacers are trying to package his expiring $18.6MM contract and a future first-rounder to get an impact player. Raptors forward Pascal Siakam continues to be talked about as a potential Pacers target. However, Indiana would be reluctant to give up second-year guard Bennedict Mathurin or rookie Jarace Walker in any trade.
  • Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins is looked upon as another potential Pacers target but it may be difficult for Golden State to create a market for him, Stein writes. Wiggins not only has three more years left on his contract, his production has nosedived.
  • Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale could be on the move. The Nets are listening to offers for both of those forwards and Stein suggests the Cavaliers should pursue O’Neale, considering they need a wing and he’s close friends with Donovan Mitchell. O’Neale has an expiring contract, while Finney-Smith is signed through 2025/26.
  • Speaking of expiring contracts, the Magic are “exploring the trade market” the top pick of the 2017 draft. They’ve made guard Markelle Fultz and his $17MM expiring deal available, along with center Wendell Carter Jr, per Stein.
  • Another team dangling expiring contracts is the Spurs. Forwards Doug McDermott and Cedi Osman are available for teams looking to clear cap room this summer or upgrade their second unit, according to Stein.

Trade Rumors: Siakam, Pacers, Walker, Kings, Hawks, Pistons

The Pacers are viewed by some rival executives as the leader in the Pascal Siakam sweepstakes, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic.

Indiana has long been in the market for a power forward who can match up with bigger wings and forwards, and reportedly made an effort to land OG Anunoby before the Raptors sent him to New York. The Pacers also control all their own future first-round picks and have some intriguing youngsters whom they could be willing to discuss in a deal for an impact player.

However, during a Q&A session on Threads today, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN said that he believes the Pacers are “very, very determined” not to include their 2023 lottery pick Jarace Walker in a trade. Walker hasn’t played much so far this season, logging just 100 total minutes across 12 NBA appearances, but Indiana is “very high” on the rookie forward, per Wojnarowski.

Here are a few more trade-related rumors and notes from around the NBA:

  • Siakam doesn’t view Sacramento as a good long-term fit for him, according to Amick, who hears from a pair of league sources that the Kings should have “very little, if any, optimism” about re-signing the Raptors forward if he’s traded there. No matter where he eventually ends up, Siakam will be seeking a long-term, maximum-salary contract, Amick adds.
  • Elsewhere in his Q&A on Threads, Wojnarowski says that he believes the Hawks are open to “almost anything” at the trade deadline and suggests that the Trae Young/Dejounte Murray backcourt pairing appears to have run its course. Atlanta continues to discuss Murray trade possibilities with teams around the NBA, according to Wojnarowski.
  • The Pistons haven’t made any roster moves since team owner Tom Gores promised that changes were coming, but it’s not for lack of trying, Wojnarowski writes on Threads. Woj suggests that potential trade partners may not be ready to deal yet and says he expects Detroit to make trades by next month’s deadline that change the make-up of the roster. Exploring that subject, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic took a look at some possible trade targets for the Pistons, discussing Nets forward Royce O’Neale and Warriors wing Andrew Wiggins, among others.

Raptors Notes: Siakam, Trade Rumors, Quickley, Barnes

After word of the OG Anunoby trade broke on Saturday, the general consensus among league insiders who spoke to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca is that the Raptors were just getting started, with  multiple sources suggesting that the deal with the Knicks may be the first of several moves made by Toronto.

“It’s a reboot around Scottie Barnes, that’s for sure,” one source told Grange.

After previously reporting that league sources expect Pascal Siakam to be on the move sooner or later, Grange adds the Mavericks to the list of teams likely to to pursue the Raptors forward. The Hawks, Pacers, and Kings are the clubs that have been repeatedly cited as presumed suitors for Siakam.

Jalen Johnson was a player the Raptors coveted in previous talks with Atlanta, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, though the Hawks won’t be particularly inclined to include him in an offer in the midst of his breakout season. Along similar lines, the Kings have been unwilling to discuss former No. 4 overall pick Keegan Murray, Scotto confirms.

As Scotto has previously observed, Pacers forward Jarace Walker, this year’s No. 8 overall pick, seems to fit the mold of the kind of young, controllable player the Raptors would like. Walker’s lack of playing time so far in his rookie season has some people around the league wondering if Indiana would give him up in a package for an impact player.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Finding a guard who is comfortable playing off the ball and who can space the floor alongside Barnes was a priority for Toronto, according to Grange, who says there’s a lot of enthusiasm among Raptors officials about what Quickley can bring to the team. “Quickley is the perfect pairing next to Scottie Barnes because of the shooting and floor spacing he’ll provide,” one rival executive told Scotto.
  • While the Raptors’ goal is to add pieces that better complement Barnes, the young forward declined to comment when asked about Saturday’s trade, which sent three of his best friends on the team to New York, Grange notes. “This is the NBA, that’s the thing, right?” Siakam said of the deal. “Like we got to be robots and just move on. Because that’s what it is. We get paid for it, right?  So you have to move on… (but) it sucks. It’s not easy. For some people is the first time (they’ve been through it) but I’ve seen it happen. So I understand. … It’s a business and you learn about it every day, and every day you try to just be out there you know, like look out for yourself, look out for your teammates, and do the best that you can.”
  • Following a loss to the lowly Pistons on Saturday, the Raptors are 12-20 on the season, and postgame comments from Dennis Schröder indicated that the club isn’t exactly a “cohesive, well-oiled” machine, writes Grange. “When I got here, (head coach) Darko (Rajakovic) did a great job just putting this system into the organization,” Schröder said. “But I think we just got to follow that. Everybody just being unselfish, sharing the ball…  to be a winning team, we need everybody, Even the guys who don’t really, really play. People got to be grateful, cheering on their teammates when they get a stop, when they get on the floor, dive, pick them up, being excited for one another. I don’t want to go deep into that, but I need to feel that because in the summer I did. … I went to war with all my brothers from the (World Cup champion German) national team. But we knew we had each other. I don’t feel it here yet like that.”

Scotto’s Latest: Raptors, Pacers, Hawks, Markkanen, Hornets, More

Rival executives believe Pascal Siakam is more likely to be traded than OG Anunoby if the Raptors decide to shake up their roster, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. In fact, teams looking for help on the wing think Toronto “will do whatever it takes” to retain Anunoby as a free agent in 2024 — he’s widely expected to decline his $19.9MM player option for next season.

Scotto reports that top front office executives from the Pacers and Hawks had extensive conversations with Toronto’s brass at the NBA G League’s Winter Showcase in Orlando this week. Both teams have consistently been linked to the Raptors for several months, Scotto notes.

If the Raptors trade Siakam, they’d be looking for young players and draft capital in return, according to Scotto, with the goal of retooling around Scottie Barnes and Anunoby.

To that end, Pacers forward Jarace Walker, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2023 draft, could be a name to watch in trade talks. He hasn’t played much as a rookie this season, but he’s had some strong performances in the G League. Scotto also hears the Hawks would prefer to keep Jalen Johnson, who was having a breakout third season before sustaining a fractured wrist (he was recently cleared to resume practicing in full).

Here are more rumors and notes from Scotto:

  • Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen has been the subject of some trade speculation this season, but Scotto is the latest reporter to reiterate that the Finnish star is expected to stay put. According to Scotto, there are three reasons for that: Markkanen wants to remain with the Jazz, the cost of acquiring him could be exorbitant, and he could renegotiate and extend his contract in the offseason, which would bypass 2025 free agency. Multiple executives told Scotto the idea of a possible Markkanen trade was “wishful thinking.”
  • There’s a “strong belief” among rival executives that the Hornets will make front office changes “by next season at the latest,” Scotto writes. If president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak is fired or moved to a different role, Nets assistant GM Jeff Peterson and Wizards senior VP of player personnel Travis Schlenk are potential candidates to replace him, league sources tell Scotto. As Scotto writes, both Peterson and Schlenk previously worked with new Charlotte co-owner Rick Schnall in Atlanta.
  • Kings guard Keon Ellis and Cavaliers guard Craig Porter Jr. are among the top candidates to be promoted to standard deals from their current two-way contracts, per Scotto. Cleveland has an open roster spot and wouldn’t necessarily need to release anyone to give Porter a raise (and make him playoff-eligible), while Sacramento has Juan Toscano-Anderson on a non-guaranteed deal.

Central Notes: Merrill, Walker, Pacers, Middleton

Cavaliers guard Sam Merrill led Cleveland to a victory over the Jazz on Wednesday behind a franchise record-tying eight three-pointers off the bench. After beginning the year on the outside looking in to the Cavs’ rotation, Merrill is establishing himself as a key depth piece over the past week, which was highlighted by his career-high 27 points against Utah.

In his past five games, Merrill is averaging 14.0 points while shooting a scorching-hot 53.8% from downtown on 7.8 attempts per game.

This is what the NBA is about. It’s about making dreams come true,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said of Merrill, per Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor (Subscriber link). “He’s worked his tail off, and he’s definitely making his dream come true.

Fedor further explores the Utah State product’s rise to the top of Cleveland’s bench in a separate subscriber-only story, detailing his climb from unheralded high school guard to an eventual 10-day contract with the Cavs late last season, where he has remained since.

J.B. reiterated the trust that the whole staff has in me and what I can do,” Merrill said. “For me, it’s always going to be a fight to show that I can do more than just shoot. I think they’ve understood that from the moment they signed me that there’s more to it, especially on the defensive end competing and staying in front of guys and being in the right spots and whatnot. I certainly came away with quite a bit of confidence.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pacers rookie forward Jarace Walker is showing signs of progress with his play as of late, writes IndyStar’s Dustin Dopirak. The 2023 No. 8 overall pick played three straight games with the Pacers, totaling more minutes in those games than he had all season. Still, according to coach Rick Carlisle, the organization is impressed, but is keeping to a specific developmental timeline with Walker and they sent him back to the G League after their Dec. 16 game against Minnesota. Center Myles Turner missed Indiana’s Dec. 18 outing, but per Dopirak, the Pacers stayed committed to their plan of having Walker spend more time with the Mad Ants. When asked what Walker needs to improve, Carlisle said he wants Walker to be “a more disciplined defender than his instincts want him to be” and to “limit willy-nilly gambles.” (Twitter link via Dopirak).
  • Carlisle refrained from making any drastic changes to the Pacers rotation, even though he floated the idea, after the Pacers lost four games in a row soon after the In-Season Tournament championship, Dopirak writes in another piece. After staying the course with the current lineup, Indiana responded with a 31-point victory over the Hornets on Wednesday. “Coming off a high high at the In-Season Tournament and coming back to regular NBA basketball, it was a transition nobody was used to,” guard Buddy Hield said. “That’s the first time we all went through that. We figured it out, weathered the storm.
  • Bucks wing Khris Middleton endured a difficult year in 2022 and into 2023, dealing with personal matters and injury flare ups, writes Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Jim Owczarski. Now he’s back to playing a full workload for the first time since April 2022. Middleton went into detail with Owczarski on his difficult journey as of late. “I’ve been thinking and hoping that I’m getting out of that stretch of my life where I can move on to a little bit more positive things,” Middleton said. “But yeah, it got really high then it got really low for me the last year or two. But that’s life. We go through things at different stages and you learn from it and grow from it. I think that’s the most important thing. Try to let a lot of frustration go and realize part of it is life and just try to grow with it and learn from it all and appreciate things a little bit more.” I recommend checking out the piece in full here.

Central Notes: Holiday, Bucks, Pacers, Allen

The top two teams in the East — the Celtics and Bucks — face off on Wednesday night in Boston. It will be All-Star guard Jrue Holiday‘s first matchup against his former club this season.

Holiday, who was traded to Portland in the Damian Lillard blockbuster before being rerouted to the Celtics, says he has no hard feelings towards the Bucks, though he would’ve appreciated a heads-up that he might get dealt, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Holiday expressed a desire to be a “Buck for life” just days before the trade was made.

I think that they got what they wanted, so I can’t be mad at that,” Holiday said. “A warning would’ve been cool. But other than that, I’m in the best place that I can be to compete against them, which is for the top team in the East and, hopefully, the top team in the league.

Holiday helped the Bucks win their first championship in 50 years in 2021, but he says Wednesday’s matchup doesn’t hold any particular significance to him other than two of the best teams in the league competing against each other.

It’s not like I circled this one on my calendar or anything,” Holiday said. “I think that this is a big game because of the two teams that are playing, I think because of the caliber players that are on the court and all that, so that’s what I would like for it to be about, not me playing against the Bucks.”

Here’s more from the Central:

  • The Pacers made a change to their starting lineup on Tuesday, replacing Bennedict Mathurin and Obi Toppin with Buddy Hield and Aaron Nesmith. Hield and Nesmith started most of last season, but had been coming off the bench in 2023/24. As Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star writes, head coach Rick Carlisle said the move was designed to give the starters more shooting, with the Pacers trying to clinch their in-season tournament group — which they did after defeating Atlanta. All four players performed well in a game that didn’t feature much defense — the final score was 157-152. However, Carlisle wouldn’t commit to that new starting five going forward, and Nesmith will be sidelined for Wednesday’s game against Toronto with a right wrist sprain, Dopirak tweets. Second-year guard Andrew Nembhard will also miss his third straight game with lower back soreness.
  • The Pacers selected Jarace Walker No. 8 overall and Ben Sheppard No. 26 overall in June’s draft, but neither player has been in the team’s rotation this fall. On Wednesday, the two first-round picks were sent to the G League to play for Indiana’s affiliate, the Mad Ants, and were recalled ahead of tonight’s matchup with the Raptors, per Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. “I was happy,” said Walker, who scored 30 points in a Mad Ants win. “Hooping is hooping to me at the end of the day, no matter if it’s NBA, G-League, JUCO, I just love basketball. Just being out there, even with an awesome group of guys that I got to get closer with today, I had a good time today.”
  • A slow 2-3 start for the Cavaliers this fall coincided with the absence of center Jarrett Allen, who was dealing with a bone bruise in his ankle. As Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com details in a subscriber-only story, the Cavs have started to climb the standings upon Allen’s return, going 6-3, including four straight victories, despite other players being injured. While he doesn’t always put up gaudy individual stats, the 25-year-old is the defensive anchor for Cleveland, according to Fedor, who notes that Allen did an admirable job slowing Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid the past two games.

Central Notes: Bulls, LaVine, Lakers, Cunningham, Cavs, Walker

While Zach LaVine has been mentioned in several rumors this fall after it was reported that both he and the Bulls are increasingly open to exploring a trade, the two-time All-Star isn’t one of the two players on Chicago’s roster that rival teams have shown the most interest in thus far, reports Marc Stein at Substack. Six-time All-Star DeMar DeRozan and two-time All-Star Nikola Vucevic aren’t on the list either.

All-Defensive guard Alex Caruso is the Bulls player opposing teams are most intrigued by, per Stein, followed by forward Patrick Williams.

As Stein writes, the Bulls haven’t made Caruso available, but he would have a “double-digit list of suitors” if that were to happen. As for Williams, who was the No. 4 overall pick in 2020, Stein says rivals still find him intriguing despite a very poor start to the season. Williams is set to hit restricted free agency in 2024.

In the same article, Stein says he’s heard the Lakers‘ rumored interest in LaVine is “best described (at most)” as to be determined. According to Stein, L.A. hopes that Jarred Vanderbilt (heel) and Gabe Vincent (knee) will provide a “meaningful boost” once they return from their respective injuries.

Here’s more from the Central:

  • As a former No. 1 overall pick who was the top recruit in his high school class, plenty of hype has followed Cade Cunningham. But advanced stats are extremely low on the third-year Pistons guard, according to Zach Kram of The Ringer, who writes that Cunningham has trouble scoring efficiently from all over the court. Kram takes an in-depth look at Cunningham’s game and his advanced metrics, suggesting that he might be more of a No. 2 offensive option on a good team rather than the No. 1 option he’s been made out to be.
  • The Cavaliers had perhaps their best win of the season on Sunday, defeating the defending-champion nuggets without Donovan Mitchell (hamstring) and Caris LeVert (knee). However, the victory didn’t answer the two biggest questions facing the franchise, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic: Has Cleveland has improved enough to advance past the first round of the playoffs? And is Mitchell “happy enough” to sign an extension next year to stay long term?
  • Jarace Walker, the No. 8 overall pick in June’s draft, has only played 41 total minutes over four games for the Pacers to this point, mostly in garbage time. Head coach Rick Carlisle has told the young forward to stay ready, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. “This is what being a professional is all about,” Carlisle said. “He’s probably always played at every level he’s played at from middle school to high school to college, AAU, you name it, but given the present circumstance, you gotta be a pro and work at your craft and you gotta be ready. I talked to him two days ago and let him know. I said, ‘I don’t know when it’s gonna happen but your time is coming. That’s how it works in this league.'”

Trade Breakdown: Bradley Beal To The Suns

This is the second entry in our series breaking down the significant trades of the 2023 offseason. As opposed to giving out grades, this series explores why the teams were motivated to make the moves. Let’s dive into a three-team blockbuster between the Suns, Wizards and Pacers…


On June 24:

  • The Suns acquired Bradley Beal, Jordan Goodwin, and Isaiah Todd.
  • The Wizards acquired Chris Paul; Landry Shamet; the draft rights to Bilal Coulibaly (No. 7 pick); the Suns’ second-round picks in 2024, 2025, 2026, 2027, and 2030; first-round pick swaps in 2024, 2026, 2028, and 2030; and cash ($4.6MM; from Suns).
  • The Pacers acquired the draft rights to Jarace Walker (No. 8 pick), the Suns’ 2028 second-round pick, and the Wizards’ 2029 second-round pick.

Notes:

  • We won’t be covering the Wizards/Pacers part of this trade because it’s pretty straightforward: Washington gave up a couple second-rounders (one from Phoenix) to move up one spot in the draft, while Indiana got the player it wanted plus a couple assets.
  • The Wizards will have the ability to swap their own first-round pick with the Suns’ first-rounder in 2024, 2026, and 2030. In 2028, the Wizards will have the ability to swap their own first-round pick with whichever one the Suns control (it could be the Suns’ own, the Nets’ first-rounder, or the Sixers’ first-rounder).
  • The Wizards generated two traded player exceptions in the deal ($5,379,250 and $300,000 for Beal and Goodwin, respectively).
  • Todd was later traded from Phoenix to Memphis and then waived by the Grizzlies.

The Wizards’ perspective:

Bradley Beal is the sixth-highest paid player in the league, only trailing former MVP winners Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Joel Embiid, LeBron James and Nikola Jokic. He will make $207.74MM over the next four seasons, including a $57MM+ player option in 2026/27.

The cost of Beal’s contract on its own would have made it difficult to recoup significantly positive value for the three-time All-Star, in part because he has appeared in just 90 of a possible 164 games over the past two seasons due to a variety of injuries. And for all his offensive skill, Beal has never been a great defender.

Complicating matters further for the Wizards was the fact that Beal is the only player in the entire NBA – and only the 10th in league history – to have a full no-trade clause. That gave Beal an enormous amount of power to choose not only his next destination, but the outgoing pieces that he would be traded for, since he could (and still can) veto any trade for whatever reason he wants.

It’s easy to say now (a lot of people were saying it at the time as well) that the Wizards should have extracted maximum value for Beal by trading him a few years ago, instead of waiting, keeping him, and giving him a pricey new contract with an inexplicable no-trade clause. But that isn’t what happened, and you can only play the cards you’re dealt.

I used that idiom in particular because new front office executives Michael Winger (president) and Will Dawkins (general manager) did not sign Beal. They just inherited his contract when they took over the basketball operations department.

Over the past five seasons, with Beal as the face of the franchise following major injuries to John Wall, the Wizards have gone 161-229, a 41.3 winning percentage. They posted a losing record each season, including going 35-47 the past two campaigns.

Obviously, not all of that is on Beal. He has been a very good player when healthy, despite his defensive shortcomings. But not good enough on his own to lift Washington into relevance.

The Wizards have been just mediocre enough to hurt their odds of landing a top draft pick while also being bad enough to always be in the lottery. Clearly, they needed a change of direction, and that had to start with moving Beal, who had been with Washington for all 11 of his NBA seasons.

I’m still a little surprised the Wizards got as much as they did from the Suns, even if it doesn’t look like an impressive haul at first glance. For example, the 2024 first-round pick swap is essentially worthless; there’s virtually no chance that Phoenix will be worse than Washington in ‘23/24.

Still, the Suns literally gave up every movable draft pick they controlled at the time, plus Paul, Shamet and cash.

Paul’s pseudo-expiring contract was later traded to Golden State for Jordan Poole, Patrick Baldwin, Ryan Rollins, a heavily protected 2030 first-round pick, a 2027 second-rounder and cash. We’ll dig deeper into that trade in a future article, but obviously it’s directly tied to this one, since Paul was the primary salary-matching piece for Beal.

In total: Poole, Baldwin, Rollins, Shamet, a top-20 protected first-rounder, four first-round swaps, seven second-round picks (one was sent to Indiana) and cash for Beal.

How Poole performs will ultimately go a long way to determining how valuable the return is, at least in the short term. He’s six years younger than Beal (24 vs. 30), will make $123MM+ over the next four years (instead of $207MM+) and doesn’t have a no-trade clause.

The 2030 pick swap has a chance to be very valuable, but only if the Wizards are better than Phoenix. It’s so far in the future that speculating about the possibility feels borderline pointless, though it’s worth noting that Kevin Durant will be 42 at that point.

Shamet is a decent player on a pseudo-expiring mid-sized contract — he’ll earn a guaranteed $10.25MM this season, but the final two years of his rookie scale extension are non-guaranteed. The 26-year-old has shot 38.8% from three-point range over his five-year career, which is valuable. When he’s on, he can make threes in bunches.

However, he doesn’t offer a whole lot else. It’s hard to say if he’ll be in Washington’s plans going forward, but his contract could be useful for trade purposes if he’s not.

Simply put, the Wizards needed to get younger, focus on player development, and rid themselves of Beal’s contract, which is arguably one of the worst deals in the NBA due to the no-trade clause — particularly for a team in no-man’s land. Washington accomplished all of those things, even if rebuilding is much easier in theory than it is practice.


The Suns’ perspective:

Clearly, new owner Mat Ishbia doesn’t care about spending money — the Suns added to their payroll (and luxury tax payment) by making this deal, both now and going forward. He just wants to win.

Beal doesn’t need to be the face of the Suns. He doesn’t need to be the team’s best – or even second-best – player. The Suns just need him to be an immediate upgrade over 38-year-old Paul, who was a key reason Phoenix reached the Finals in 2021 and had the league’s best record in ‘22.

The Suns were reportedly thinking about waiving Paul before they traded him in the package for Beal. While the future Hall of Famer was still effective last season, he has clearly lost a step on both ends, and remains a perennial injury concern. Turning a player you were contemplating cutting — plus other assets that may or may not be valuable — into an All-Star caliber player closer to his prime was a gamble worth taking for Phoenix.

It may seem like I’m not particularly high on Beal based on how I described things from Washington’s perspective. I certainly don’t think he’s the sixth-best player in the league, but that’s not really how contracts work.

Beal has had an interesting career trajectory. Early on he was primarily known as a jump shooter who would occasionally dabble in secondary play-making and driving. He wasn’t a great finisher in the paint and took far too many long twos, which hurt his efficiency.

For example, while Beal shot an impressive 39.7% from deep over his first four seasons, he only converted 44.0% of his twos and didn’t get to the line much, only posting a 52.1% true shooting percentage (for context, league average over that span was about 53.8%).

As with many talented scorers, Beal improved upon his weaknesses and became a much more dangerous and well-rounded offensive player from 2016 on, averaging 25.5 points, 5.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.2 steals with a 58.1 TS%. He posted above league average scoring efficiency in six of those seven seasons.

Interestingly, his three-point percentage has actually dropped pretty significantly over the past five seasons, which included his two 30-plus points per game campaigns from 2019-21. He has only converted 34.7% from long range over that span, and he has attempted progressively fewer threes as well.

Part of that is actually by design, and it’s also what makes Beal such a dangerous offensive player. He’s still treated like a sharpshooter who is chased off the line while coming off screens, but now he leverages that threat to get into the paint, make plays, draw fouls, and take short range jumpers, which he is very efficient at converting.

There isn’t really a great way to guard a player like Beal one-on-one. He’s a smooth ball-handler who uses hesitation dribbles to gain an advantage, and he’s adept at playing off the ball. He’s also a solid play-maker and passer, though he can be turnover prone at times.

The fact that Beal has been a No. 1 option for several years and is now a second or third option while still playing at basically the same level is kind of ridiculous. If Durant, Devin Booker and Beal are healthy, the Suns’ offense is going to be outrageously good, and it should be even better in the playoffs because of how versatile their stars are.

Another benefit for the Suns is if Booker or Durant are injured, they can just increase Beal’s usage and run more plays for him. He isn’t quite at the same level of either of those two, but he’s still a top-tier offensive player.

Goodwin shouldn’t be overlooked as part of this trade either. He was quite effective as a reserve last season for the Wizards. While he isn’t a great shooter, he’s an outstanding rebounder for his size (he’s 6’3” and averaged 6.7 rebounds per 36 minutes), is a solid play-maker who takes care of the ball, and is a terrific defender. He’s also on a bargain contract, another huge plus.

It’s very difficult to get quality production from minimum-salary free agents, and the Suns had arguably the best offseason in the NBA as far as that goes. I thought Eric Gordon, Drew Eubanks, Keita Bates-Diop and Yuta Watanabe all could have gotten at least the bi-annual exception or part of the mid-level exception. Phoenix also re-signed Josh Okogie at near the minimum — he got a slight raise using his non-Bird rights.

Some writers/analysts have questions about the Suns’ depth, but I actually think they have one of the deeper rosters in the league. They have plenty of solid players capable of complementing their star trio, and if a role player is having an off night, they can just insert another player in his spot.

The Suns completely overhauled their roster, plus they have a new coach, so you could argue chemistry will be an issue, particularly early on. But I don’t think there’s any doubt that they have a more talented and well-rounded team entering 2023/24 compared to the squad that ended ‘22/23.

While Ross, Biyombo and Warren are all seasoned veterans, they remain free agents with the season starting today. Bazley signed a non-guaranteed deal with Brooklyn this summer but didn’t make the team. Wainright is now on a two-way deal with Portland after Phoenix waived him.

The biggest question mark for me with Phoenix isn’t depth, it’s health. Beal, Durant and Booker have all missed a significant chunk of time in recent seasons, and the Suns need all of them to be healthy in the playoffs (both Paul and Ayton were injured in the second round against Denver last season). Nurkic – a less critical piece of the puzzle — has also missed a ton of action over the past four seasons, but we’ll get more into that in a future article.

The fact that Beal (lower back) may not be available for Tuesday’s season opener against Golden State has to be a little discouraging, even if the team is likely just being cautious.

If things go really south in the next few years for whatever reason, worst-case scenario, the Suns could always trade Durant and/or Booker and retool the roster. If that were to occur, Beal would probably be happy to waive his no-trade clause again and be moved as well.

Still, there are lots of reasons for optimism for Phoenix. New head coach Frank Vogel has a well-deserved reputation as being a strong defensive coach, and there’s plenty of talent on that end for the Suns. If Beal can just be average or a little below, which is doable, they should be more than fine as far as that goes.

The Suns are on the short list of contenders this season. If they win, it would be their first championship in franchise history. Reshaping their roster on the fly was impressive, and a worthwhile risk – we’ll see if it pays off.

Central Notes: Altman, B. Brown, Pacers, Cunningham

The attorney for Koby Altman submitted a plea of not guilty on his behalf on Tuesday after the Cavaliers president of basketball operations was charged with committing a marked lanes violation and operating a vehicle while impaired, per TMZ Sports.

Police video obtained by TMZ and News 5 Cleveland (YouTube link) showed Altman appearing to struggle to complete a series of field sobriety tests after being pulled over in Cleveland on Friday night. The Cavaliers executive told officers that he was “exhausted” after returning from a trip overseas and was driving home after a long dinner.

The Cavaliers, who initially issued a brief statement announcing that they were gathering information on the incident, have put out a follow-up statement, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter links).

“We hold our team members to a high standard of conduct and expect leaders at every level of our organization to represent the Cavaliers with integrity, professionalism and accountability,” the Cavs said. We will continue to closely monitor the facts and circumstances of this matter and await resolution of the legal process.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • In a discussion about the best offseason move made by a Central Division team, Josh Robbins and James L. Edwards III of The Athletic both pick the Pacers‘ signing of Bruce Brown, while their colleague Darnell Mayberry chooses the Pistons‘ hiring of Monty Williams as their new head coach.
  • Within the same story, Edwards, Robbins, and Mayberry identify Pistons guard Cade Cunningham and Pacers forward Obi Toppin and Jarace Walker as some of the top breakout candidates in the Central.
  • The majority of the Pacers‘ players were in attendance for Summer League in Las Vegas, signaling the team’s growing chemistry and a culture that’s on the right trajectory, contends Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files (subscription required).