The Washington Wizards have had a horrid start to the new season. As such, the backcourt duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal might not last.
Our own Frank Urbina recently wrote about the pros and cons of blowing up the core in Washington. ESPN’s Zach Lowe recently said that the front office would get more back in a deal for Beal than Wall, adding that “it wasn’t even close” between the two. But what kind of return could the franchise receive for the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft?
When looking around the league, there are likely several teams who would be eager to add his talents to their offense. But few have enough cap space or would be willing to move one of their top players to land him.
During a recent appearance on The Jump, Tracy McGrady said that Beal would look amazing playing for the Los Angeles Lakers next to LeBron James because he is such a dominant shooter. He certainly makes a point, considering they have struggled from beyond the arc this season.
Jonathan Tjarks speculated that Washington could perhaps try to get some young assets in exchange for their best trade chip from Los Angeles (via The Ringer):
“I’m thinking: how about Bradley Beal to the Lakers for Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and some cap space filler or whatever … Beal is a great player with LeBron, he’s only 25. That’s a fair trade, I think … He’s a 25-year-old All-Star … he’d be even better than he is now in Los Angeles.”
His colleague Kevin O’Connor believes that Ingram would be too much to give up in such a deal. This makes sense, especially considering Washington might be forced into a trade because chemistry is arguably at an all-time low within the organization. Why trade Ingram to a team that has their hands tied right now?
Additionally, the cap filler that Tjarks mentioned would likely include either Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or Rajon Rondo. But neither are eligible to be moved yet because both received new contracts during the offseason.
If the matters get worse for the Wizards, especially plausible if their experimental move to sign Dwight Howard soon backfires, perhaps Beal could come even easier by December or January.
Los Angeles might avoid such a deal, however, because it would remove their coveted cap space this offseason. That takes away their ability to land top potential free agents including Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler should any of them test the open market.
But an interesting note here is that Beal is younger than all of them and there is no guarantee that the Lakers sign any of the players mentioned above. Plus he could be a fascinating fit next to James, especially because of his ability in catch-and-shoot and spot-up situations.
The Lakers currently average 0.94 points per possession on catch-and-shoot attempts this season, which ranks No. 24 out of the thirty teams in the NBA. Beal averaged 1.18 PPP on this play-type last year, which ranked in the 80th percentile among all players. He also finished in the 82nd percentile on spot-up chances, per Synergy Sports.
But he was also remarkably effective as the primary ballhandler in a pick-and-roll offense, shooting off screens and in transition. No team in the NBA has run transition more often than the Lakers (27.8 possessions per game) so far this season.
Especially with the young guns on his roster, James is showing a willingness to play a fast-paced offense. Beal averaged 1.25 PPP when in transition last season, which ranked Top 5 (minimum: 200 possessions) among the highest volume contributors. James, meanwhile, finished No. 9 overall with 1.19 PPP last year.
Ingram, simply put, has too much upside to give up at this point in his career. But if Los Angeles can get Beal without including Ingram in the deal, it may be worth pulling the trigger for Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson.
If they’re in win-now mode with James, as was reported earlier today, Beal could help. He’s also still young enough that they would not be mortgaging the future as he could grow within their timeline of success.