For most of LeBron James’ career, it hasn’t exactly been rocket science that he’s found success when surrounded by shooting. Whether in Miami or either stint in Cleveland, putting shooting and space around LeBron and it was effectively a guaranteed trip to the Finals for years.
The Lakers decided to throw most of that logic out of the window for the majority of LeBron’s tenure and have not given him much shooting during his time in Los Angeles. One of the few times they did, the 2019-20 season, the Lakers won an NBA title.
After writing that off as a fluke and trading that shooting for a point guard known for being a historically bad one, the Lakers finally returned to that formula at the trade deadline. That included trading for Malik Beasley, certainly the most prolific and high-volume 3-point shooter LeBron has played alongside in Los Angeles.
It’s also, apparently, a player that general manager Rob Pelinka has had an eye on for some time. On the latest HoopsHype podcast, Michael Scotto and Jovan Buha of The Athletic discussed Beasley and his future in Los Angeles.
Scotto: From what I’ve heard, Lakers executive Rob Pelinka has had interest in Beasley for a while, and this could be more than just a short-term thing since he has a $16.5 million team option for next season. Beasley is loving it in LA. He’s starting on a winning team and will get the chance to play with LeBron more soon...
Buha: I do think they pick up Beasley’s team option. It’s just one of those situations where you don’t have the means to replace him. I think, as you saw in Tuesday’s game against the Pelicans, he can go off for seven threes in a half and light a team up. He’s the best shooter the Lakers have had in the LeBron and AD era. I don’t think it’s debatable in terms of the number of attempts he’s willing to get up, his confidence, and his percentage. He’s shot in the high 30s on seven or eight attempts a game for the last several years.
There are few things Pelinka likes more than talking about how much he’s wanted a player after acquiring them. He did the same thing with Malik Monk, most recently.
That interest in Monk amounted to one season in Los Angeles where he excelled and took a payday in Sacramento. The good news about Beasley is that whether he is in Los Angeles next season is entirely dependent on the Lakers with his team option.
While Beasley has struggled with his shot since coming to Los Angeles, his gravity alone provides benefits offensively and law of averages would suggest his shot would come around. And most of his production and time on the floor has come without LeBron James, which adds another dynamic.
All of that is enough to bring him back next season. At worst, he’s a tradeable contract at the deadline next trade deadline as an expiring deal. At best, he provides the Lakers the shooting they have sorely needed for years around LeBron James. There’s next to no reason to not pick up that team option.
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