Lakers Rumors: LA Keeping First-Round Picks for Potential Blockbuster Trade for Third Star

This would be the splash LeBron James is looking for.

The Lakers are suddenly streaking, thanks in large part to a scorching hot LeBron James. In their last two games — both Laker wins — LeBron has averaged 45 points, 10.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists, and has carried his team to two huge road wins to finish 2022 and start 2023.

The Lakers have officially jumped the Oklahoma City Thunder for the No. 12 seed in the West, and are a half game back of the Minnesota Timberwolves for the No. 11 seed.

So, if the Lakers keep winning, and Anthony Davis returns sooner rather than later, the front office could be convinced to make a trade to turn this roster into a true contender. And they may have their eyes set on one move in particular.

NBA reporter Marc Stein wrote in his Substack newsletter that opposing teams think the Lakers are holding onto their first-round picks in 2027 and 2029 for one main reason:

“In case a currently unforeseen shot to trade for a legitimate third star— like Washington’s Bradley Beal—materializes suddenly.”

There’s no guarantee someone like Bradley Beal becomes available ahead of the February 9 trade deadline — but it would make a lot of sense for Washington to move on from him.

This offseason, the Wizards rewarded Beal with a massive five-year, $251 million deal with a full no-trade clause. You can’t blame them for wanting to lock up their homegrown superstar, and keep him in D.C. for the foreseeable future. But at the same time, the Wizards have struggled to win with Beal as their lead man, and it hasn’t been much better this year, either.

While the Wizards have been streaking as of late — winners of five in a row — they still sit at 17-21, and as the 10th seed in the East. Even if they reach the Play-In Tournament, they have a very small chance of competing with the powerhouses of the Eastern Conference. They may not move on from Beal just months after signing his extension, but they also could put their franchise in a much better position if they did.

Potential Trade Proposal

The trade would mostly be a “salary dump” move in terms of the players coming back, with a huge emphasis on future picks. The Lakers’ 2027 and 2029 first-round picks would be the headliners of the deal, as two of the most valuable assets in the NBA right now. The Lakers could also attach first-round pick swaps in 2026 and 2028, giving the Wizards a huge haul of firsts for their three-time All-Star.

Finally, it would be centered around Russell Westbrook, as his $47.1 million cap hit and expiring contract could help make the money work, and be a perfect salary dumping move for the Wizards. If they want another player, they could target Max Christie as a prospect who’s shown promising signs in limited time.

Would that be enough to convince the Wizards to move on from Beal? It’s hard to know. And it’s even harder to know if he’ll become available ahead of February 9.

But if the Wizards decide that starting over with clear books next offseason is the way to go, there is a path for Beal to join LeBron James and Anthony Davis in the Purple and Gold — and that would make them a true contender in the Western Conference.

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