Well, it finally happened: your Los Angeles Lakers traded an overpaid, underperforming player who proved awkward alongside their marquee stars!
Not this a. Not yet anyway.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that LA is set to sign swingman Talen Horton-Tucker’s $10.3 million contract, plus forward Stanley Johnson’s minimum wage, to the Utah Jazz for the services of the veteran two-way point guard Patrick Beverley. Woj notes that the clubs are expected to close the deal on Thursday morning. Woj adds (Twitter link) that the trade will not include any draft compensation.
Shams Charania and Tony Jones of The Athletic have also reported that a trade is imminent. Earlier this week, Charania hinted that the Lakers would be interested in trying to add Beverley or another valuable Jazz veteran, Bojan Bogdanovic.
Russell Westbrook’s longtime nemesis is set to become his teammate, but for how long?
A deal for a well-paid 3&D point guard seems to suggest the Lakers are at least preparing to replace their beleaguered 2021-22 starter in that role.
Beverley is expected to earn $13 million in the final season of his current contract, which is just a fraction of the $47.1 million Westbrook will earn this year – and Beverley is the better player!
A below-average shooter and defender, Westbrook’s shortcomings on both sides of the ball, plus a lack of depth (much of which was offloaded by the Lakers to Washington in order to acquire Westbrook in the first place), combined to yield one of the most disappointing seasons in team history. LeBron James and Anthony Davis’ lengthy injuries certainly didn’t help either.
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The Lakers went 33-49 in Westbrook’s first (and likely last) season with his home team in 2021-22. This record was so bad that Los Angeles even missed out on the tenth seed in the West, and with it an opportunity to enter the NBA play-in tournament.
With the Brooklyn Nets (for now) seemingly recommitted to flaky but still talented main guard Kyrie Irving, it looks like the Lakers might be ready to continue their pursuit of Westbrook deals. Adding a capable and experienced point guard to Beverley fills a huge need for the Lakers and frees up team president Rob Pelinka to look beyond the positional need in any hypothetical future Brodie trade. If Pelinka can’t find a deal he likes in time, Beverley is currently better suited to this Lakers roster than Westbrook, and would make more sense as a starter if the latter player stayed on the team until the start of the season. the season.
Playing in his tenth NBA season last year, Beverley started for the seventh-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves in a hard-fought six-game first-round loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2022 playoffs.
In 58 regular season games with Minnesota last season, the 6’1″ Beverley averaged 9.2 points, 4.6 assists, 4.1 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 0.9 blocks per night. Although his field goal conversion rate of 40.6% is a little low, he shot a respectable 34.3% from three-point field on 4.2 attempts and 72.2% from the charity strip. Unlike Westbrook, Beverley generates much of his offense off the ball. A career 37.8% shooter from long range on volume and a committed defender (more on that in a minute), the self-proclaimed ” Mr. 94 Feet” is still a massive upgrade over this iteration of Westbrook in every aspect except consistent health and athleticism. And at only a fraction of the price!
According to ESPN, Beverley has limited the players he guards to just 41.9% shooting, the second-best rate for players guarding 2,000 or more field goal attempts. He can also easily keep both positions in the backyard. After his lone season with the Timberwolves, the 34-year-old from the University of Arkansas was traded to the Jazz in the blockbuster trade that sent Rudy Gobert to Minnesota.
Defensive ace Alex Caruso, a crucial part of Los Angeles’ 2020 title team, was sadly overlooked in 2021 as free agency in favor of the unproven and highly promising THT, despite not was still only 20 years old. Los Angeles opted to let Caruso go to Chicago rather than match his (quite reasonable) new four-year salary of $37 million. Although the hard-scrabble combo guard battled a myriad of injury issues, when healthy for the Bulls he was one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, while shooting a decent 33, 3% depth. Horton-Tucker, on the other hand, failed to get off the ground for a year when he badly needed it for LA. He was consistently inconsistent for the Lakers on offense and, although he had the physical tools to be a good defender, failed to develop. end too.
Jazz team president Danny Ainge, formerly a thorn in the side of the Lakers both on the court and later in the front office with the Boston Celtics, must be excited about the likely Horton-Tucker cap. to get his $11 million player back. choice next year. Like Johan Buva of The Athletic tweetThat will open up the Lakers’ salary space next summer, with LA now pegged about $34 million below the projected salary cap threshold. Obviously, that could all change depending on how much long-term money Los Angeles gets back from a deal with Westbrook.
Johnson emerged as a surprisingly big midseason addition to the Lakers last year. After signing three 10-day deals with the team, the 6’6″ former University of Arizona lottery player signed a two-year minimum contract to stay in Los Angeles. His ability to defend frantically both forward spots attached themselves to a very old Lakers team desperately needing energy at this end of the field. Ultimately, this year’s Lakers roster includes many Johnson players -esque (shifting defenders who can guard all threes and fours), making the 26-year-old expendable as a throw-in to match wages.
It remains to be seen now what team president Rob Pelinka chooses to do when it comes to leaving Westbrook. Aside from a potential trade to the Nets for Irving, the other most talked-about deal this summer was a 2017 MVP trade and up to two first-round draft picks for two veteran Pacers, the 3-and-a-half big man. -D Myles Turner and sniper wing Buddy Hield. The Lakers apparently have other potential landing spots in mind for Westbrook, but this reporter considers Turner and Hield a perfect fit for Los Angeles’ roster, despite Hield’s defensive issues.
If the Lakers can open a training camp with a hypothetical starting five made up of Beverley, Hield, James, Davis and Turner – plus intriguing reserves like Juan Toscano-Anderson, Lonnie Walker IV, Thomas Bryant, Austin Reaves and Kendrick Nunn – their short-term future would suddenly look much brighter. Our fingers are crossed.