The Los Angeles Lakers are looking to make an impact this offseason to get back to championship contention. One way to do that is by making a big trade involving the expiring contract of point guard Russell Westbrook. That will be a challenge because of Westbrook’s massive deal and it also is unclear which star players are available, although one that has been mentioned as someone who could be on the move is Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal.
The guard is coming off a disappointing season in which he played just 40 games, had surgery on his left wrist that ended his season, and shot a career-low 30% from 3-point range. But before then, Beal had been one of the most prolific scorers in the league, averaging over 30 points per game in consecutive seasons.
Apparently Beal could be on the Lakers’ radar, as Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reports that the Lakers are interested in acquiring him this summer, though there are other teams who may have a better chance of acquiring the guard from the Wizards:
“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 the threat to take him away from Washington. I don’t think you can also rule out Boston either because of his relationship with Jayson Tatum, but the Lakers are trying to angle for some moves like that using the Russ expiring and the ’27 and the ’29 firsts.”
Getting a player of Beal’s caliber would be an amazing accomplishment for Rob Pelinka and the Lakers front office if they were able to pull it off. Turning Westbrook’s contract into someone like Beal, who is an All-Star level player capable of creating his own shot and would seem to fit well with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, would truly be amazing.
The issue is that if Beal is available, then some other teams will certainly be putting trade packages together as well and the Lakers will be hard pressed to match what other teams can come up with. Unfortunately, Westbrook’s expiring deal and a pair of first round picks at the end of the decade can be topped by other teams who can offer young talent and more immediate draft compensation.
New coach Darvin Ham has praised Westbrook and seems to be getting him on board with his plans for the upcoming season, but that doesn’t mean the Lakers won’t continue to explore all options as the offseason is upon us.
Ham says Westbrook accepted his defensive challenge
If Westbrook does remain with the Lakers next season, one area where he will need to improve is on the defensive side of the ball. Ham has preached the importance of defense and Westbrook is capable of leading the way with his speed, athleticism and overall intensity.
Ham recently spoke about challenging Westbrook on defense and says that the point guard accepted that challenge. Truly becoming a lock down defender would greatly help to offset the offensive issues that he creates.