Sixers: Could Bradley Beal become available sooner than expected?

The Philadelphia 76ers are expected to pursue franchise-altering moves this summer, with a clear emphasis on maximizing Joel Embiid’s championship window. While the focus in Philadelphia lately has been on Portland malcontent Damian Lillard, there has been no shortage of Bradley Beal talk over the past year. Is it time for that talk to pick back up?

In a recent report about Chris Paul’s future in Phoenix, ESPN’s Marc J. Spears included an interesting nugget on Beal’s Washington co-star, Russell Westbrook.

“According to sources, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers have been on the hunt for a veteran point guard, and Paul is on the list. There have also been talks about Washington Wizards star Russell Westbrook being a potential candidate to move back home to Los Angeles in a sign-and-trade deal that could include free agent point guard Dennis Schroder, forward Kyle Kuzma and guard Talen Horton-Tucker, sources said.”

Frankly, I am skeptical. The financial dynamics of that trade are funky, and it’s difficult to envision a worse fit for LeBron. The Lakers need another ball-handler and perimeter scorer, but Westbrook’s domineering style and unreliable jump shot make him a less-than-ideal candidate.

Even so, the mention of a potential Westbrook trade that isn’t totally speculative — that comes from a legitimate, plugged-in source — does lead to questions about the future in Washington. The Westbrook trade was Washington’s big swing to appease Beal. If that crumbles so soon,…

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