One of the many baffling moves the Los Angeles Lakers front office made after signing LeBron James was moving on from stretch center Brook Lopez and, in turn, signing veterans Michael Beasley and JaVale McGee.
While each of the contracts were team-friendly and only for one year, it seemed obvious that Lopez was willing to re-sign with the Lakers at a discounted price. In fact, Lopez signed for $200,000 less than Beasley by inking a one-year, $3.3 million contract with the Milwaukee Bucks.
A head-scratching move at the time has only become more perplexing, and according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne the Lakers viewed signing Beasley as a replacement for Lopez:
“They let Brook Lopez go, the idea being they chose Michael Beasley over him, which to me is fairly unforgivable. Because they had already lost Julius Randle, and they felt that Beasley had a similar skill set to be a small-ball five as Julius Randle did last year when he was a small-ball five with that second unit and sometimes with the first. So they felt like Beasley’s skill set would replace (Lopez).”
Whatever the initial reasoning was, it turns out that moving on from Lopez in favor of Beasley became one of the worst moves of the Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka era.
Beasley missed a large chunk of the season taking care of his mother, who tragically passed away last December. Once he returned, he clearly struggled to find a rhythm, and couldn’t get a consistent spot in the rotation.
His tipping point was a reported verbal altercation with head coach Luke Walton. That night led to him being traded, along with Ivica Zubac, to the L.A. Clippers at the deadline.
Meanwhile, Lopez is having an excellent year with the Bucks, doing everything the Lakers would have needed from him. If put on the current Lakers roster today, he would be the team’s best three-point and free throw shooter.