Coming into this season, Patrick Beverley represented a type of player the Lakers have long needed around LeBron James as a 3-and-D point guard that had just enough brashness to hold the stars around him accountable. What has transpired through the early stages of the season, though, has been Beverley underperforming and unable to make an impact on either end of the court.
While the year is still quite young, it’s been a disappointing campaign so far for someone that was expected to contribute. Considering the Lakers traded one of their few assets this offseason in Talen Horton-Tucker, it makes his disappointing play even more frustrating.
And if you’re looking for even MORE reason to be frustrated, Dave McMenamin of ESPN provided some more ammo recently. In his weekly podcast discussing the Lakers and Clippers with Ohm Youngmisuk, also of ESPN, McMenamin detailed a trade the Lakers didn’t do involving THT last season before pulling the trigger on the PatBev one (h/t OVOLakeShow/Twitter).
“I’m told that the Lakers had talks with the Toronto Raptors where the Raptors late last year when it already looked like the Lakers were probably out of it or, at the very least, going to be a low seed and wouldn’t have a likely championship path to go all the way, the Raptors would have traded for Talen Horton-Tucker. Traded a first-round pick. So, think about that, the Lakers had another first-round pick on top of the two firsts right now to play with to try to make this team better...Now, of course, I’m told the trade would have also involved Khem Birch so they would have taken some money there and maybe Birch wouldn’t be the best rotation guy for this group but that first round pick is so valuable and it’s why they’re so hamstrung with what they can pursue right now.”
Now, the noteworthy part of this will, and should be, the Lakers turning down a first-round pick. Considering how much they aren’t getting out of PatBev, trading for Khem Birch in hindsight looks much easier to swallow, espeically if a pick is added.
It should be noted that no matter how little PatBev is offering this year, Birch is doing less. He’s played just seven games this year and 48 total minutes. He has nearly as many fouls (12) as points (13) and fewer rebounds (7) than both despite being a center. He provides no spacing as a shooter and is basically a non-factor for the Raptors right now.
All that comes despite him being paid $6.6 million this season while being due $6.9 million next season. The counter to that is if the Lakers were going to make any trade this season to improve and use those draft picks to do so, Birch almost certainly would have been salary in that trade — considering how few non-max contracts the team has.
Perhaps the Lakers felt they could get a better trade package in the offseason or maybe they were just turned off by the long-term money that Birch was due. It’s been a sentiment the front office has reportedly had throughout searching for a Russell Westbrook trade and it’s fair to assume that would apply to other deals.
But, man. Having an extra first-round pick in the bag feels like the difference between this team having the likes of Buddy Hield and Myles Turner on the roster and not, or at least some other trade. While they couldn’t have predicted how disappointing both PatBev and even Damian Jones have been, not doing the deal potentially because of Birch feels like focusing on the wrong part of the trade.
Mark this one down as another asset mismanaged by the Lakers in recent years.