Coming off an ugly 49-loss season, the Los Angeles Lakers don’t necessarily have the assets to pull off a blockbuster trade.
It’s led to widespread speculation that Los Angeles will run it back with new head coach Darvin Ham. That is to say, retaining embattled point guard Russell Westbrook and his bloated contract.
None of this is by design. Westbrook, 33, has a player option worth $47.06 million for next season — one that he’s certainly going to pick up. He’s a net-negative when it comes to trade assets.
Apparently, this hasn’t stopped general manager Rob Pelinka and Co. from going big-game hunting leading up to NBA free agency. According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, Los Angeles is pursuing a Bradley Beal trade with the Washington Wizards.
Do the Los Angeles Lakers have what it takes to pull off Bradley Beal trade?
According to O’Connor, the idea would be for Los Angeles to send Westbrook’s expiring contract as well as first-round picks in 2027 and 2029 to Washington in a Beal sign-and-trade.
Short of Beal making it clear he wants to join the Lakers, we’re not sure why Washington would do this deal. Are first-rounders five and seven years down the road worth facilitating a Beal move to Southern California? Picking up Westbrook’s deal would also likely force Washington to demand even more. It’s not like he’d suit up for one game with his former team. In reality, Westbrook would then be bought out.
O’Connor also mentions the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics as more likely landing spots for Beal. Both have more assets to offer up Washington for the star two-guard.
As for Beal, recent reports suggest that he’s already made a decision about what he’s going to do. The three-time All-Star has a player option worth $36.42 million for next season. He’s undoubtedly going to decline said option and could very well opt to re-sign with Washington.
If that were to happen, the Los Angeles Lakers would be back to the drawing board with an all-time great in LeBron James joined by Westbrook’s bloated contract, Anthony Davis’ injury-plagued ways and not much hope for contention.