Despite sitting near the bottom of the Western Conference standings, the Los Angeles Lakers don't appear inclined to make a panic trade involving their highly-coveted future first-round draft picks in 2027 and 2029.
Per NBA reporter Marc Stein in his Substack newsletter, rival teams believe the Lakers want to keep those picks "in case a currently unforeseen shot to trade for a legitimate third star— like Washington's Bradley Beal—materializes suddenly."
This comes after The Athletic's Jovan Buha reported on Dec. 16 that Los Angeles' "ultimate pie-in-the-sky" trade scenario would be if one of Beal, Damian Lillard or Kevin Durant became available.
General manager Rob Pelinka told reporters before the start of the season that trading their "draft capital" would only make sense if it brought back a player or players who clearly improved the Lakers' championship odds.
It's perhaps not a surprise that Stein cited Beal as a potential option for the Lakers instead of Durant or Lillard.
The Brooklyn Nets' recent surge up the standings makes it impossible to envision a scenario where Durant is moved during the season.
Lillard's two-year contract extension signed in July stipulates he can't be traded until July 9, 2023. There's no indication he or the Portland Trail Blazers are looking to move on, but things could change during the offseason if the team misses the playoffs or has an early exit.
Beal's situation is hard to parse out. He admitted in October on JJ Redick's podcast that the market "wasn't too promising" before deciding to sign a five-year supermax extension with the Washington Wizards.
While Beal is almost certainly happy to have a contract that guarantees him up to $251 million, the Wizards remain a mess with a 15-21 record. The structure of his deal could also make a move complicated because it includes a full no-trade clause and a trade bonus of 15 percent.
Despite their lackluster performance so far this season, The Athletic's Josh Robbins recently noted the Wizards don't want to trade Beal and would prefer to upgrade around him.
There's been no indication at this point that Beal is going to seek a trade out of Washington.
Beal would definitely fill the Lakers' need for shooting help. He's making a career-high 52.7 percent of his field-goal attempts this season, along with shooting 34.3 percent from behind the arc.
Putting Beal on a roster with LeBron James and a healthy Anthony Davis could improve his scoring efficiency because defenses would focus their attention on stopping them, leaving him with open opportunities that aren't available with the Wizards.
The Lakers (14-21) have lost five of their last six games and are currently 13th in the Western Conference standings.