Bradley Beal has been with the Washington Wizards for his entire eight-year career, but he was almost never even a part of the team to begin with.
In an appearance this week on SHOWTIME Basketball’s “All the Smoke,” Beal revealed that he was very nearly traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder on draft night in 2012 in exchange for James Harden.
Bradley Beal said a swap with him and Harden was in the making during his draft night
Beal, Russ and KD. What could have been in OKC
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“The whole night, I kinda had a feeling I was going 2 or 3,” said the All-Star guard. “We knew AD [Anthony Davis] was going 1. So I already knew I was going to Charlotte or Washington. When we’re sitting in the draft room, sure enough, my agent is tapping me like, ‘It’s possible you might go to OKC.’ ‘Damn, how am I gonna go there? I didn’t even work out for OKC. I only worked out for three teams: Washington, Cleveland, and Charlotte.’
“So the deal was to trade James to Washington, OKC trades up to 2 or 3, get me, trade James to Washington,” Beal went on. “I’d have been in OKC with KD [Kevin Durant] and Russ[ell Westbrook]. It was almost done.”
By now we know that the Thunder were actively shopping Harden at the time and wound up trading him to the Houston Rockets in October that year in exchange for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, and multiple draft picks. There he blossomed into one of the NBA’s best players and won league MVP in 2018.
The landscape of the league would have looked very different though had the Harden-Beal swap have gone through. Would the Thunder have had enough to make it back to the NBA Finals like they did in 2012? Would Durant still have left to sign with the Golden State Warriors in 2016? Would the dynamic duo of Harden and John Wall have gone anywhere in the Eastern Conference (where the Beal-Wall Wizards made three conference semifinal appearances in the middle of the decade)?
We don’t know the answer to any of those questions, but what we do know is that a Beal trade could still be consummated at some point elsewhere.