PHOENIX (AP) — Bradley Beal was drafted on his 19th birthday and spent his entire 20s with the Washington Wizards, where he scored a lot of points, enjoyed a little team success, but also suffered through plenty of painful losses.
On Wednesday, he turned 30. Not a bad time for a new chapter in the three-time All-Star’s life and basketball career.
Beal was introduced as a member of the Phoenix Suns on Thursday at the Footprint Center, more than a week after he waived a no-trade clause that allowed him to be sent to the desert in exchange for Chris Paul, Landry Shamet and a package of future draft picks.
“I feel refreshed, I feel rejuvenated,” Beal said. “This is an exciting moment for me. This is an awesome team.”
Beal is now part of one of the NBA’s most star-packed starting lineups, including 13-time All-Star Kevin Durant, three-time All-Star Devin Booker and former No. 1 draft pick Deandre Ayton. They’ve also got a new coach in Frank Vogel, who led the Los Angeles Lakers to a title in 2020.
“Bradley Beal is one of the best players in the NBA,” Vogel said. “We’re thrilled to have him be a Phoenix Sun with KD and Book. That forms a trio of three of the most prolific scorers in the game. A great two-way center, one of the best two-way centers in the game.
“These pieces are a great foundation for what we hope will be a championship run for this franchise.”
Beal’s arrival marks the latest big move for new owner Mat Ishbia, who has had an extremely eventful tenure since purchasing the franchise from the embattled Robert Sarver in February. Almost immediately after he was introduced, he approved the team’s big deal to land Durant at the trade deadline.
A few months later, he got into a brief sideline spat with Nuggets star Nikola Jokic during a playoff game. (The two have since made up.)
Now Ishbia and general manager James Jones have swung a deal that brings Beal and his big scoring numbers across the country. The three-time All-Star has averaged at least 20 points per game in each of the past seven seasons, including a career-high 31.3 points per game during the 2020-21 season.
Beal never got past the second round of the playoffs with the Wizards, but still has plenty of fond memories of his tenure in the nation’s capital.
“I have a lot of emotional ties to that city, my family was established there,” Beal said. “So I just want to take a moment to thank the city of D.C., thank the organization for allowing this partnership to happen.”
But Beal also admits he’s excited about his new challenge. The sharpshooting guard was often the Wizards’ main scoring option, but in Phoenix, he’ll be sharing the load with several other stars.
The Suns are trying to win their first championship since coming to the NBA in 1968. They’ve lost in the Finals three times — in 1976, 1993 and 2021.
“I’m excited to play with two Hall of Famers, I’ve never done that,” Beal said. “I’m excited what that brings. They’ll push me in ways I’ve never been pushed and hopefully I’ll do the same.”
Beal’s arrival also means the Suns will have to engage in some salary cap gymnastics to fill out their roster. The foursome of Durant, Beal, Booker and Ayton will make more than $160 million next season.
A summer of bargain hunting on the free agent market awaits, but that’s a problem to worry about another day.
For now, Beal and the Suns are relishing a roster that looks like it will be among the very best in the league during the upcoming season.
“Hopefully, we can chase this ring,” Beal said.