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The Lakers’ number one target: Bradley Beal

LeBron’s close circle has filtered their differences with the franchise: they want a move now so that this is not another lost season.

The Lakers’ number one target: Bradley Beal
Kirby LeeUSA TODAY Sports

TNT journalist Chris Haynes, journalist was in Los Angeles for the Clippers-Lakers clash at Arena (for many, still the Staples), and witnessed first-hand how the Lakers slumped to a 114-101 defeat - a result which means they are now 2-9 after 11 miserable, painful games in what is turning out to be a pitiful season. For now there haven’t been many signs that things could change - at least not if something doesn’t happen.

Haynes has good sources. Among them is his great relationship with Rich Paul and Klutch, the agency whose star client is LeBron James. So his presence in L.A. pointed to movement... and there has been. Haynes has published an article in Bleacher Report that tells, basically, how LeBron, his entourage and agency partner Anthony Davis view a situation which has quickly become desperate.

The article makes a few things very clear: LeBron James doesn’t want to wait until next summer for major moves. On his way to turning 38 next month, and in his 20th season in the NBA, he doesn’t feel like spending another season in limbo waiting to see what will happen next summer. Last August he signed a two-year, 97.1 million extension that will keep him in the Lakers until 2025. And he did it, among other things, because Rob Pelinka, the big shot in the Lakers back offices, promised to provide him with teams that he could at least really compete with. Others in the hard core such as Anthony Davis think the same and want the Lakers to move now rather that let things fester until next summer.

That trick, as is well known, are two first rounds, which can pass right now (2027 and 2029). After the Pelicans’ deal for Davis, that’s all they have. In 2023 they will have another one, but those from Louisiana have the right to swap picks, and everything indicates that they will execute it watching the Lakers stars leave, which promises a very juicy election (the number 1 pick is very close at the moment... Victor Wembanyama). In that very likely event that the Pelicans apply the trade, the Lakers will have a trade option, but they can’t use it until after the draft. Then, they will have three first round picks (Pelicans 2023, 2027 and 2029). And in the offices of the Lakers there are those who believe that it is better to wait for that moment and go for an established star. The name Haynes has put on the table is Bradley Beal, shooting guard for the Wizards.

Pelinka and company do not think that the already very famous operation with the Pacers (release Westbrook, get Myles Turner and Buddy Hield) is going to change enough, to move the team from total loss to their biggest aspirations. And they fear that if they go through with this plan and it doesn’t pan out, they’ll has sold all of their assets for the rest of LeBron’s contract: there’s no more to bargain with. That is the dilemma that has been experienced since the summer in the offices and Haynes’ article not only makes it clear but also positions LeBron and Davis very clearly: in favour of going for broke now which is very much against what franchise executives think.

But there’s more to the article: according to Haynes’ sources, Russell Westbrook’s good performance since playing as a sixth man, starting games on the bench, has led to calls asking the Lakers about him. That is to say, another input fixed by LeBron’s entourage: yes, there is a clear possibility of moving Westbrook. In addition, the transfer of Davis is ruled out, although it is a rumour which is doing the rounds on social media, and points to the fatigue that LeBron is suffering - the burden of responsibility that he has to assume now to maintain his team in games. That makes him less able to perform less in the final minutes when the scores are close and to cap it all, he is now injured, with a groin issue.

The picture, every day becomes clear and resoundingly obvious, it’s looking bleak for the Lakers .


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