It was always going to be difficult, getting Wizards star Bradley Beal to the Lakers—this year, at least. The Lakers do not have enough tradeable NBA assets on hand and their store of first-round draft picks is all but untradeable until 2027.
Still, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported last week, the Lakers “would love to get involved” in a deal for Beal. But the assets are not there.
So maybe the recent report that Beal has not asked to be dealt from the Wizards, despite tough times in Washington and poor body language from Beal, is actually good news for the Lakers. Between now and the end of the year, the Lakers’ ability to put together a worthwhile package for Beal will improve.
Citing sources with knowledge of the situation, The Athletic reported that Beal, “has so far expressed he wants to remain in Washington and has not indicated he prefers to be traded.” Additionally, it was reported that the Wizards are maintaining their position on not trading Beal and that Beal is, “privately frustrated and confused with the perpetual portrayal of his situation. … After seeing other players take criticism for requesting to leave teams, those sources say Beal feels he’s getting nitpicked for choosing to stay in D.C.”
Beal Leading the NBA in Scoring
Beal is the most sought-after and most-discussed trade chip on the market this season, and with good reason. He is leading the NBA with a career-high 34.9 points (first in the NBA), shooting 47.9% from the field and 34.0% from the 3-point line. He is also averaging 5.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists.
He has blossomed into superstardom in the last two seasons, after he averaged 30.5 points per game in 2019-20. But along with his rise came a Wizards downfall, with a serious injury to John Wall, the trading away of Otto Porter and an overall gutting of the roster.
The Wizards have seen a decrease in wins each of the last five years, from 49 in 2016-17, to 43 the following year, then all the way down to a 32-50 record in 2018-19. In last year’s pandemic-shortened season, the Wizards went 25-47. Currently, they are 4-12, on pace for the fifth-worst winning percentage in franchise history.
The losing has been frustrating to Beal and he has done little to hide it. That has led to assumptions that Beal would, finally, in his ninth season in Washington, ask to be traded. While the Wizards front office is steadfast on not moving him, that would change if Beal approached the team asking for a deal. He can be a free agent in 2022.
Lakers’ Package for Beal Would Improve in the Offseason
But here is why this could be good news for the Lakers: If the Wizards hold off on dealing Beal, it gives L.A. time to put together a legitimate pursuit of him.
First off, the Lakers can’t really include one key chip in any package until after July 1—forward Kyle Kuzma. Because Kuzma signed a three-year, $39 million extension in the offseason, he is very difficult to trade, at least until that new extension kicks in this summer.
Second, the Lakers could potentially include Talen Horton-Tucker in a deal—or trade Horton-Tucker at the NBA draft to secure picks that could be sent to Washington for Beal.
Third, by getting through to the offseason without Beal being traded, the Lakers could include a future draft pick of their own, in 2027.
That bolsters the Lakers’ potential side of the deal considerably. A package of Dennis Schroder, Kuzma, Horton-Tucker and at least one draft pick is a big improvement over what the team can offer now.
Is it enough of an improvement? Probably not. But it would give the Lakers a better shot.