The Los Angeles Lakers have been connected to Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal dating all the way back to 2018, when it was reported that they would have a tough time agreeing to trade Brandon Ingram for him. After that season was over, there were rumors that Beal was a backup target if the team couldn’t land Anthony Davis, and prior to the NBA bubble last season, there was buzz that the Lakers had interest in a trade deal for Beal.
We all know what happened next. The Lakers proved they didn’t need a Big Three to win a title, and that LeBron James and Anthony Davis plus an excellent supporting cast was good enough. They then went out and hard-capped themselves this offseason while making upgrades to their roster, making in-season trades difficult.
Still, we point all this out because there are headlines breathlessly connecting Beal to the Lakers again, so even though a deal would be difficult and is highly unlikely, their previous interest is worth noting nonetheless. Because if general manager Rob Pelinka has shown anything in his time in this job over the last year, it’s that he’s good at having contingency plans, so we can never fully rule the Lakers out of anything.
The latest buzz comes from a somewhat offhand remark from Adrian Wojnarowski as he discussed the Beal situation on ESPN’s “The Jump,” but given that Woj is as plugged in as they come, his certainty here is still worth noting (emphasis mine):
“There’s not a team in the league who wouldn’t love to find a way to add Bradley Beal… I think for teams like Golden State or the Denvers, teams who have assets who are contenders when they’re healthy, but also, let’s say if you’re Golden State, you’ve got that Minnesota draft pick, if you’re Denver, you’ve got a great young player in Michael Porter Jr., you’ve got an All-Star in Jamal Murray in the backcourt. Now I’m not saying they’re going to do it, but you look at those teams and say ‘they have enough to get in the conversation.’
“And that’s going to be the decision for teams all over the league. Of course the Lakers and Clippers would love to be able to get involved in that, but do they have the draft picks? Do they have the young players it would take that would top a package from some other teams? Maybe not.
“And so you’re going to see a frenzy if and when Bradley Beal gets on the market, and he will have a say in where he goes because of this contract situation. Unless a team is just willing to just do a trade and hope to convince him to stay long-term and have him under contract next season, but that’s pretty risky for somebody you may be giving up multiple first round picks and probably your best young player (for). I think those are all considerations for teams, but boy, I don’t think there will be many who aren’t going to make a call and sit and brainstorm ‘could we get Bradley Beal if he becomes available?’”
You can watch the whole exchange starting around the 3:30 mark below:
However real and serious you think the Lakers’ interest sounded based on that — to me it appears Woj was mostly just acknowledging a fact that every team would like to trade for Beal, who is very good at basketball — I think we can all agree that it certainly doesn’t sound like anything is imminent. Beal hasn’t even asked out yet, and is under contract through 2022, with a $36 million player option for the 2022-23 season.
Still, given how hopeless the Wizards situation is and how the NBA works, it would be a genuine shock if Beal doesn’t ask to be dealt at some point (and it would be hard to blame him, to be honest. Even our Wizards sister site, Bullets Forever, gets it).
If he does, do the Lakers have the assets to get in the race? It’s hard to believe they could outbid other teams unless Beal pulls an AD and scares off other suitors by only wanting to go to L.A.
Even then, because of the hard cap, it is almost impossible to make a deal work under the collective bargaining agreement. I spent like 10 minutes trying on the ESPN trade machine, and while Pelinka and the Lakers surely have better planning than that, it clearly would not be easy.
After the season it would potentially be easier, but still difficult because of how many first-round picks the Lakers still have tied up in the Davis trade.
So basically, as fun as it is to troll other NBA fans about Beal being a #FutureLaker — and it is fun — it would also be pretty tough to make it happen. Which is fine, because the Lakers are title favorites as is. Not a ton of teams that would be trying to get into the seemingly inevitable Beal sweepstakes can say the same.