Grading the Bradley Beal trade for the Suns one year on

One year on from trading for Bradley Beal, what does the deal look like for the Phoenix Suns now and in the future as they try to contend?
Golden State Warriors v Phoenix Suns
Golden State Warriors v Phoenix Suns / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

Without doubt the biggest move the Phoenix Suns made last offseason was trading Chris Paul for Bradley Beal. A deal that also included various picks, as well as point guard Jordan Goodwin heading to The Valley as well.

Although the deal was not made official until June 24th, it was on June 18th that news began to emerge that both sides intended to go through with the deal. One year removed from that day, and the Phoenix Suns are nowhere near where they want to be in the league's pecking order.

They were swept in the opening round of the playoffs by the Minnesota Timberwolves, and with the season done now seems like a good time to revisit the seismic trade.

This looked like the best move the Suns could make last summer, with Paul making a ton of money and Beal having a similar amount of money owed to him for the 2023-24 season. Mathematically the deal worked, while Beal's no-trade clause ensured he was able to pick his next destination having wanted out of a going nowhere fast Washington Wizards franchise.

But if you cast your mind back to that period in time, the Suns had actually zeroed in on Kyrie Irving via sign-and-trade as their potential third star alongside Devin Booker and Kevin Durant. Those overtures were shot down by the Dallas Mavericks, who would go on to make the NBA Finals with Irving and Luka Doncic as their two best players this season.

Missing out on Irving doesn't seem like the misfire it may look like now, at that point in time getting into business with the player was still viewed as risky. His knack for picking up an injury rivalled that of Beal as well, and in 2023-24 Irving only (58) managed only five more regular season games than Beal (53).

Back to Beal then, and in small bursts he actually looked like exactly the kind of third star the Suns needed. Younger than Paul, he looked comfortable running the show for periods as the point guard, while also filling in as the third offensive option behind Booker and Durant.

That point guard experiment with Booker and Beal may look like a failure now, but it wasn't for the want of trying from both players. Going and getting a floor general this summer should be a top priority, but both stars tried to adapt to setting up their teammates more. So it may be that calling Beal a bust in terms of being a pure point guard is a step too far after only one season in Phoenix.

We even named Beal the fourth-quarter MVP for the franchise, and he ended the season strongly. But putting up only 16.5 points in the postseason - the lowest mark of his career - was a problem. Shooting 43.5 percent from deep in that Timberwolves series went unnoticed, and it was achieved on an impressive 5.8 attempts each night. Then there was this unfortunate moment right at the end...

To be fair to Beal, he quickly apologized for the interaction with head coach Frank Vogel as the Suns' season fell apart, but Vogel no longer has a job while Beal does. Which gets to the heart of having Beal on this roster last season and moving forward.

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At 30-years-old his days of playing all 82 regular season games in back-to-back campaigns are long gone, and he is owed $160 million over the next three seasons. He likely will never be an All-Star again, and it is because of having perhaps the worst contract in the league that the Suns are hamstrung to make this roster much better.

Outside of trading Kevin Durant - although there may be a solution that suits everybody out there - the organization has no more outs, with adding Beal their final big move in trying to win a championship. Context is everything and in the moment flipping an ageing Paul for Beal made sense for the Suns. One year and zero playoff games won later though, and the future looks ugly.

Grade after one year: D