Lakers ‘Want’ 3-Time All-Star in Blockbuster Sign & Trade: Report

Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles Lakers

Getty Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers are in a peculiar spot this off-season. Sure, they boast two of the best players in the NBA, but there’s no guarantee they will remain healthy for the entire season.

Beyond LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers have a plethora of aging stars and a point guard in Russell Westbrook that has been the victim of speculation since the trade deadline. And now, according to a report from Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer during a June 15 episode of The Void podcast, the Lakers are exploring ways to trade Westbrook and two future first-round picks to acquire three-time All-Star Bradley Beal in a blockbuster trade during the off-season.

“The one name that I’ve heard recently is Bradley Beal as another guy that they want. I’m not sure if the interest is as mutual. You know Beal, it seems like Miami would be more of a threat to take him away from Washington. I don’t think you can also rule out Boston either because of his relationship with Jason Tatum, but the Lakers are trying to angle for some moves like that using the Russ expiring [contract] and the ’27 and the ’29 firsts,” O’Connor said.

Beal, 28, would be an ideal fit alongside Lebron and Davis, as he’s adept at playing off-ball, but can also operate in the pick-and-roll, create his own shot, and generate scoring lanes for others due to his shooting gravity.


This Trade Would Mark a U-Turn From Front-Office

As recently as June 10, the Lakers front office was reported to be opposed to adding draft capital to any potential deal to move on from Westbrook’s contract. According to NBA reporter Marc Stein, the team was steadfast in their commitment to holding onto their future picks – although that was when the John Wall was being discussed as the most likely trade target.

“The Lakers continue to signal — at least for now with three months to go until training camp opens — that they do not want to force a Westbrook trade that costs them additional assets. Regarding the long-running idea that Westbrook could be swapped again for Houston’s John Wall, since both would be making near-identical $47 million salaries next season, one source briefed on the situation told me this week that Houston’s interest has always been predicated on the Lakers including draft compensation to sweeten the deal, which L.A. steadfastly refuses to do,” Stein reported on June 10.

Beal does not have the injury history of Wall, nor has he missed significant basketball time in the last few years. Rather, Beal has been the lone star on the Wizards and has produced admirably, despite being the clear-cut first option.

Even this season, in what could be considered a ‘down year’, Beal averaged 23.2 points, 6.6 assists, and 4.7 rebounds, while shooting 45.1% from deep but struggling from the field, converting just 30% of his perimeter shots. However, Beal’s season was cut short after just 40 games, as he underwent season-ending surgery to fix a ligament issue in his left wrist.


Any Move Would Have to be a Sign and Trade

Both Beal and Westbrook have player options for the upcoming season on their contracts, and at present, it looks like both parties are going to opt in. However, if the Lakers were to get involved in trade discussions with the Wizards, and it involved multiple future first-round picks, it’s unlikely they would approve that trade without the deal being a sign-and-trade.

Otherwise, Beal could find a new team at the end of next season, leaving the Lakers short on star-level talent, and missing another two future draft picks – it’s just not smart business. Obviously, the downside with conducting a sign-and-trade is the team who receives the ‘signed’ player is immediately hard-capped for the upcoming season.

Given the Lakers’ current roster situation, it doesn’t seem like adding that type of limitation to their ability to rebuild the team would be high on their to-do list. However, players of Beal’s caliber don’t come around very often, and if the price of bringing him to Los Angeles is a year under the hard cap, then it’s probably a price worth paying.

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