The Los Angeles Lakers appear to once again be going star hunting, but it remains to be seen whether the team will have success given the lack of desirable assets on the roster. NBA insider Marc Stein reported that rival teams believe the Lakers continue to hold out hope they can land a third star like Wizards guard Bradley Beal. It is this lofty goal that has likely contributed to Los Angeles’ hesitance to make another significant trade since last season.
“The Lakers and LeBron, as painful as the short term is, have to get the next move right,” Stein wrote on December 30, 2022. “Or James’ suffering might not necessarily be contained to the rest of his 20th season.
“Some rival teams believe that the Lakers want to try to keep their two most coveted trade assets in case a currently unforeseen shot to trade for a legitimate third star — like Washington’s Bradley Beal — materializes suddenly.”
Beal Comes With a Hefty $251 Million Contract That Runs Through 2027
The question is whether the Wizards would be willing to take the Lakers’ likely offer of two future first-round picks and Russell Westbrook to move Beal. The star’s five-year, $251 million contract is the only factor that would prompt Washington to even remotely consider this sort of deal from the Lakers. Beal’s $43.2 million salary escalates all the way up to $57 million for the 2026-27 season.
The NBA veteran would give the Lakers an additional shooting option with Beal notching a respectable 34.3% from long range this season. Beal is averaging 23.5 points, 5.2 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game in 2022-23 through his first 23 starts.
The Lakers May Need to Lower Their Trade Expectations
The Lakers’ most likely available options are to aim a bit lower with a potential trade package of Russell Westbrook and two first-round draft picks. For Los Angeles to secure another star, the team is likely going to need to be willing to trade Anthony Davis, something the front office has shown no desire to do thus far.
With LeBron James playing at such a high level this season, there is pressure on the Lakers to do something by the February 9 trade deadline. There is no longer simply pressure on general manager Rob Pelinka coming from behind the senes with James going public about his desire to win now. The not-so-subtle hint to the Lakers front office is to improve the roster, and make it happen soon.
LeBron Does Not Want to Be Traded: Report
Los Angeles could wait until the offseason to make significant roster moves with the Lakers projected to have more than $34 million in cap space this summer, per Spotrac. According to Stein, James may be publicly applying pressure, but the NBA legend has no desire to be traded.
James’ desire to remain with his family in Los Angeles will likely prevent the star from requesting a trade, even if he is not completely satisfied with the talent around him. Since the superstar signed a contract extension last offseason, James is not eligible to be traded until this offseason, even if the superstar became disgruntled.
“Family reasons and LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION, as we’ve noted here many times, were the true driving forces that prompted James to leave Cleveland for Hollywood in the summer of 2018,” Stein noted. “Those are believed to be the same forces that would keep him from urging the Lakers to ship him somewhere that he has an actual chance at ring No. 5. His oldest son Bronny is a high school senior. Another son, Bryce, is a high school sophomore. They’re budding prospects thriving in Southern California. James presumably doesn’t want to uproot them.”