The Oklahoma City Thunder are in an interesting spot for the 2023-24 NBA season. They are coming off a season that saw them surprise and exceed most people’s expectations en route to a 40-win season and an NBA Play-in bid. After many people believed the OKC Thunder would be at the forefront of the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes, especially after losing their lone top-five pick of the rebuild, Chet Holmgren, for the season, it is easy to get caught up in the sugar high that was the 2022-23 season.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander became an MVP-caliber player, Jalen Williams was the second-best rookie in the league, Isaiah Joe emerged out of nowhere, Josh Giddey took a year-two leap, and Lu Dort continued his defensive dominance. As you start to envision what this team looks like with Chet Holmgren, a summer of development for the rest of the roster, and the ever-shifting Western Conference, it is hard for the fanbase to remain patient.
The OKC Thunder must avoid temptations and not chase after Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal.
As the world turns, so does the latest NBA drama, the best soap opera this side of Days of Our Lives. Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal and the organization are in lock step of attempting to trade him this offseason. That speculation has only grown to the point we are in the final hours of his Wizards tenure.
The NBA world immediately looks toward Oklahoma City when big names hit the market. The Thunder own approximately 17,546 first-round picks, top-five in the league in cap space, and have one of the most promising young cores in the association. They are viewed as a team that can make any trade they want to, and with the aforementioned sugar rush of a surprise 40-win season, fans want to see the Thunder make a “win-now” move.
While trading for Bradley Beal would increase the Thunder’s ability to win in 2023-24, it would dramatically hinder their ability to keep this core intact and continue to build a roster. Even if Washington’s asking price is jaw-droppingly low, it is not about what it would take to simply acquire Beal.
The ripple effects of trading for Beal are massive. No matter who or what you do or do not trade to Washington to make it happen. The Florida product is on a huge five-year 251 million deal that does not seem him become a free agent until the 2027 season. That deal includes a no-trade clause which dictates who he goes to and how much that team gives up, which hinders the ability to flip him later.
Taking on Bradley Beal’s contract means there is absolutely no way you can sign Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Jalen Williams, and Chet Holmgren long-term. As fans are already worried about if the CBA allows this to be possible, one surefire way to make it impossible is to grab Beal.
While Bradley Beal as a second scoring option on a OKC Thunder team that needs another bucket-getter is fun and would help Mark Daigneault’s squad with their ability to hide him defensively, it just does not make sense at this juncture of team building. We have yet to see the core’s weakness, how they handle a playoff series, or how good they will even become. This core has yet to play a game together! To take on a massive contract that ends your chances of keeping this group intact long-term, you must be incredibly sure it is the right player.
Continue to be patient, enjoy the ride next season as Chet Holmgren works into the fold, then we will have more data to see Oklahoma City make the move you crave in the following summer or so. For now, the Oklahoma City Thunder have to avoid temptation.