The Los Angeles Lakers had an eventful offseason which was headlined by the team’s draft-night trade for Russell Westbrook, but the front office also considered pursuing a number of other star players including Bradley Beal. According to The Athletic’s Bill Oram, Shams Charania and Sam Amick, LeBron James formed a group this offseason to help assist the Lakers in reconstructing their roster for the 2021-22 season, and Beal was among the group’s top targets.
“The group focused first on Lillard and Beal, but with no viable path to trading for either of them, turned their attention to more realistic targets: Westbrook, DeRozan, Hield and Kyle Lowry, who would eventually pursue a deal with the Miami Heat instead,” The Athletic detailed.
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The Lakers Explored Trading for Beal: Report
It was not just James who wanted Beal on the Lakers, as the front office also explored trading for the Wizards guard along with several other star players. Westbrook proved to be more available via trade which ended the team’s brief pursuit of Beal.
“In the two months that followed their first-round playoff flop against Phoenix, when Davis’ groin injury left them pulling up lame, the Lakers explored the prospect of trading for such stars as Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, DeMar DeRozan and Russell Westbrook,” The Athletic explained. “The process unfolded well beyond the team’s front office’s search, with James setting up a war room of his own at his Brentwood estate for some in-person player meetings while leading remote communications in other conversations.”
Westbrook Pushed Beal to Request a Trade From the Wizards
As the Lakers were weighing their options, Westbrook was doing everything in his power to get to Los Angeles. Westbrook even pressed Beal to request a trade out of Washington in hopes that it would put more pressure on the Wizards front office to deal both players.
“And before Westbrook resorted to calling Leonsis, he had tried to convince Beal in the weeks leading up to the draft that they should both ask out of Washington, according to sources,” The Athletic reported. “Short of Beal showing a desire to also request a trade, Westbrook was hopeful Beal would at least support his efforts to get to L.A. — which, sources said, Beal did.
“Even in this modern-day era of player empowerment, conversations about possible player movement are typically contained to the front office level. Unless, that is, the player doing the pushing isn’t getting what he so badly wants. And Westbrook, well aware that he was on the verge of missing his window, played his trump card.”
Beal Has a Player-Option to Become a Free Agent in 2022
Beal decided not to request a trade but his long-term future with the Wizards remains uncertain. The star has a base salary of $33.7 million for this season and can become a free agent this offseason by declining his player option for the 2022-23 season. Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd noted in March that James has been trying to play with Beal for years.
“I know LeBron loves him,” Cowherd explained. “I’ve been told that by LeBron’s camp they’ve been eyeing him for years I’m not sure why people don’t make a run he is expensive, but I just feel he’s got a very consistent personality.”