Early signs would suggest that the Washington Wizards were the winners of the Russell Westbrook trade to the Los Angeles Lakers. They are 15-11 and the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference while the Lakers are 13-13 and the seventh seed in the Western Conference. It hasn’t been smooth sailing for the team despite having a loaded roster featuring Westbrook, LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The Wizards aren’t likely championship contenders but have been receiving good contributions from each of the pieces they got in return for Westbrook from the Lakers. It’s always difficult for teams to trade superstar players, especially when they have another one on the team. Bradley Beal and Westbrook had some tough times last season but were able to get Washington to the playoffs. However, Beal wasn’t too upset when the trade went through.
“I was happy for Russ because he wanted to, like, I am always happy for a player that they do what they want to do and what’s best for their family,” Beal said on the “Posted Up” podcast. “… But my initial thing was, ‘OK, if I’m going to be here, what are we getting back?’ That was my first thought. It wasn’t like, OK, I’m outta here, too. Which it could’ve been, it could’ve very well been. … What are his options that he wants to go to, or what teams are looking to offer us the best package?”
The Wizards received Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who both have started all 26 games for the team. They also received Montrezl Harrell, who is averaging 15.2 points a game. Not a bad haul for a team losing a superstar.
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Beal Not Committing to Wizards for the Future
Beal has been a major talking point around the NBA over the last few years due to the Wizards’ struggles. He’s one of the best players in the league but has yet to have a deep playoff run. Washington finally has a good squad but it remains to be seen if they can compete with some of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. Beal has remained loyal but can become a free agent in the offseason should he choose to decline his player option. He’s not revealing what he plans to do quite yet.
“I got time, so I kinda hold the cards right now. And one, I’ve never been in this position. I’m kinda embracing that, being able to kinda dictate how I want my future to be and where I want it to be,” Beal said. “And at the same time, I’m not gonna make that grand commitment and it doesn’t work. Ultimately, you have to be selfish at some point and for probably the first time in my career, Year 10, I am. And so I’m kinda taking advantage of it in a way.
“Obviously, my full commitment is to the team. I want it to work. I’ve contributed to being here. I’ve committed to being here twice. Now, I want to see that commitment to me, as well, that we can create a winning team here, a winning environment here. And granted, I’m a part of that, so I gotta make sure that I’m stepping up and doing my thing, too, just as well.”
Beal Would Be Much Better Fit on Lakers Than Westbrook
Beal is having a down season as he’s only averaging 22.6 points a game but he should pick things up. He’s averaged over 30 points a game in each of the last two seasons. While Westbrook will likely go down as the greater player, Beal would’ve been a much better fit with the Lakers.
He’s a great shooter and solid 3-point shooter. He’s also a willing defender. The Lakers are desperate for spacing and wing defense. He would’ve brought both. Obviously, he wasn’t on the market, which is why Los Angeles didn’t make a play for him. However, he could be a free agent at the end of the year. The Lakers are stuck with Westbrook’s contract but if they can figure out a way to trade him and create cap space, Beal would be the perfect player to insert next to LeBron and Davis.