Other than the NBA trade deadline in February, June is one of the busiest times of the year where people start to predict where players may end up because the NBA draft and free agency are on the horizon. There have been a slew of names that have been in the rumor mill and it’s likely that some of them are playing in a different area code next season.

Bradley Beal

With the likelihood of Beal opting out of his player option, his name is near the top of the list of free agents available this year. In a recent interview with Taylor Rooks of Bleacher Report, Beal said he’s going through this process with one thing in mind.

“I know what my decision will be based off of, and that’s gonna be where I feel like I can win,” Beal said. “That’s gonna be my decision. If I feel like I can win in D.C., that’s what I’m gonna do, and I want people to respect that. You may, you may not, but I’m gonna fight my ass off. I’m gonna compete and I’m gonna try to make this team better. If it’s elsewhere, it’s gonna be the exact same commitment.”

During Beal’s time with the Wizards, the franchise has made the playoffs five times, but has failed to get past the first round since 2017. Even with injuries, Beal has been at his peak in the past few years, but his supporting cast hasn’t been up to par and it has cost the Wizards.

For the sake of not wasting Beal’s prime and potentially getting assets back, the Wizards need to try and get a sign-and-trade done for the three-time All-Star.

Deandre Ayton

The Phoenix Suns could have avoided this situation if they would have taken care of business last offseason. Since the Suns chose not to extend Ayton, it clearly rubbed Ayton the wrong way and it looks like his tenure with the Suns is over. However, this isn’t a situation that’s new to the Suns franchise.

In 2005, former seven-time All-Star Joe Johnson was entering free agency after having the best season of his early career with the Suns, but Suns’ current owner, Robert Sarver, was reluctant to pay Johnson and it cost the Suns a better chance at winning the title. Sarver has since said he regretted not paying Johnson.

“I beat myself up about that one because we were in a position where that piece could have helped us probably extend our chance to run for a longer period of time,” Sarver said.

This situation is eerily similar to 2005 and it looks like Sarver and the Suns have not learned from their mistakes. The best case scenario for the Suns is that they execute a sign-and-trade (like they did with Johnson in 2005) so they don’t lose the 2018 first overall pick for nothing.

Rudy Gobert

Gobert has been the biggest victim of the trade machine lately, which is mainly due to the Utah Jazz’s playoff success with him as their defensive anchor. In Gobert’s nine seasons with the franchise, they’ve made the playoffs the last six years but have never made it past the second round. The biggest reason for this is that offenses tend to pull Gobert away from the paint where he excels the most.

Like we saw last year with the Los Angeles Clippers and this year with the Dallas Mavericks, the easiest way to attack the Jazz’s defense was by running a 5-out motion offense. It forced Gobert away from the rim and put even more pressure on the Jazz’s guards on defense. Their backcourt was brutal defensively for them in the playoffs and it put Gobert in situations where he was forced to either stay in the paint or stay on the shooters in the corners.

If Gobert gets traded to a team that has good perimeter defense, it should help mask the few limitations he has on the defensive end. However, some teams may be a tad apprehensive trading for Gobert due to his limited offensive arsenal and his aging contract.

Gobert is set to get paid $38 million next year and it goes into the $40 millions after that, so many teams may not want to pay an aging center that gets a bulk of his offense by being a lob threat.

Christian Wood

The aura around Wood is that he puts up good stats on a bad team which is a bit of an oversimplification. As a 6’10 big man, Wood has shown the ability to generate his own offense, while also being a consistent threat from three, shooting 38% on four attempts a game in the last three seasons.

Wood’s length also provides a decent rim presence. The main downside to his defense is that he’s not as bulky as other big men, which allows him to get bullied in the paint. But if Wood added more mass it could affect what he brings on the offensive end.

However, other than rookie Jalen Green this season, Wood was one of the Houston Rockets’ few bright spots, averaging just under 18 points on 50% shooting from the field and pulling down 10.1 boards a game.

Wood’s in the last year of his deal and with the Rockets in no condition to contend anytime soon, it would be wise for the Rockets to deal Wood so they can add assets to pair with Green.

Clint Capela / John Collins

After a promising 2020-2021 season where the Atlanta Hawks made it to the Eastern Conference finals, they followed it up with what can only be labeled as a disappointing season.

The Hawks finished as the ninth seed, sneaking into the playoffs through the Play-In Tournament, but they ultimately fell to the Miami Heat in the first round. One of the Hawks’ problems is that they’ve had trouble finding players who they can trust consistently on offense outside of guard Trae Young.
Forward De’Andre Hunter showed promise against the Heat in the playoffs, but it may not be enough to convince the front office.

One of the biggest names linked to the Hawks has been Ayton. As a result, a sign-and-trade would need to be executed and Collins or Capela would be included because of their salaries alone. Capela has one year left on his deal while Collins has four years left, but is three years younger.

Ayton would solidify a better post presence, but he wouldn’t be able to take off a lot of the offensive load that Young carries. Another target for the Hawks could be Beal, who will most likely opt out his player option and would be a huge boost for the Hawks’ offense.