With the 2019 NBA Draft less than a week away, all eyes are on disgruntled New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis, who is expected to be traded before or on draft night. The Lakers have been considered the heavy favorites to land Davis since the Pelicans started listening to offers for him earlier this week, but the devastating injuries the Golden State Warriors suffered in the NBA Finals could change the types of offers New Orleans gets for Davis.
In the event the Lakers are outbid for Davis, there’s a belief — or sense of optimism — among the fanbase that the team will shift their attention to Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal. Last month, Sean Deveney of Sporting News reported that the Lakers had interest in trading for the two-time All-Star and since landing the No. 4 pick at the NBA Draft Lottery, Beal’s seemed like a realistic option for Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like Beal is going anywhere and if he is, it won’t be any time soon. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Wizards would prefer not to trade Beal (via the “Ryen Russillo Show”):
“Beal, they want to keep him, and they can offer him — I think on July 26 — three years ... is it three, $111 million extension? But right now, they don’t have somebody running basketball ops. Tommy Shepard, the interim GM, certainly I know values him greatly. The owner values Beal greatly. They’re not going to do anything until they decide who the permanent GM is. You’re not letting an interim GM trade Bradley Beal, that’s not going to happen, I don’t think. Unless the owner decides he wants to do it.”
This might not mean a great deal to the Lakers if they land an All-Star guard in free agency like Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker, but if they’re unable to pair James with an elite scoring guard in free agency, Beal’s availability, or lack thereof, could put a dent in their plans for next season.
The Lakers face an immense amount of pressure to put a contender around James, who will turn 35 years old in December. While it’s feasible for them to make the postseason without another All-Star in a Western Conference that’s expected to be wide-open next season, it’s hard to imagine them getting too deep into the playoffs without a legitimate No. 2 option.
It also raises concerns about a potential desperation trade by the front office. If they strike out on Beal, Davis and their big-name targets in free agency, would they consider making a face-saving trade for a less desirable player like Chris Paul, DeMar DeRozan or Andre Drummond? It’s not out of the realm of possibility.
Missing out on Beal, Davis and All-Star free agent might not be the end of the world for the Lakers, but it would raise the stakes for the front office going forward. For their sake and the team’s, let’s hope it doesn’t get to that.