On Tuesday, Shams Charania of The Athletic was on Complex’s Load Management Podcast. On the podcast, he revealed that the Los Angeles Lakers reached out to the Washington Wizards and inquired about Bradley Beal’s availability.
As you might have expected, the Wizards are not interested in trading Beal away. Charania was quick to mention that Beal himself was not interested in leaving Washington.
But Charania mentioned that this could change, saying “could he also look at it like ‘we’re not looking like a team that’s going anywhere, even with John back, I want to see what else is out there?”
The earliest Beal could be traded is next season, so inquiries like these or the Nets’ discussions last May are really teams playing “game theory.” After all, why are teams asking the Wizards about Beal’s availability, even if the teams know they aren’t likely getting a positive answer in return?
To me at least, it seems teams making these types of deals to the Wizards are anticipating that the Wizards won’t be performing at a high level, even after John Wall returns from his Achilles injury for the 2020-21 season.
Since Beal is making approximately $28.7 million in the 2020-21 season, who could the Lakers presumably offer in return? LeBron James ($39.2 million) and Anthony Davis ($28.7 million if he takes his player option) are off the table, so it’s more likely that the Wizards will have to take Danny Green ($15.3 million), and some combination of Kentavious Caldewell-Pope ($8.5 million if he takes his option), Avery Bradley ($5 million if he takes his option) and/or JaVale McGee ($4.2 million). Kyle Kuzma is currently on his rookie deal making $3.5 million in 2020-21, but I don’t see him going to Washington. And even if he did, the Lakers would still likely give up Green and some of the aforementioned veterans.
In short, the Wizards aren’t getting similar talent in return. Also, these players’ contracts end after 2020-21, so the Wizards’ purpose in this situation is to start a full-scale rebuild, presumably with Wall staying because his supermax contract is considered unmovable.
Finally, JaVale McGee returning to the Wizards? He has certainly been a better and more focused player in recent years. But I just don’t think this franchise is the right one for him given his past mishaps here on and off the court..
Though I’m totally sure that the Wizards are not trading Beal to the Lakers, Nets or any team without seeing him play alongside Wall for some length of time, it is becoming clear that teams don’t see the Wizards going far in the playoffs in the next few years. And that’s one reason why I think teams are asking anyway.
Do you agree with this? Disagree? Or have another take on the consistent narrative around Beal trade rumors? Let us know in the comments!