A few hours before the NBA Draft, the Washington Wizards and the Los Angeles Lakers made a blockbuster deal, sending the former league MVP to LA in exchange for Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, and the 22nd pick in this years draft (later traded for Aaron Holiday and the 31st pick, Isaiah Todd).
Here are the winners and losers of this deal:
Winner: Washington Wizards
The Washington Wizards have been in limbo for the last 4 seasons, and have been in no man’s land. They started with an almost untradeable John Wall contract and ended up with quality depth pieces and cap space to go after free agents. Guys like Spencer Dinwiddie, Demar Derozan, and other players would like to play next to Beal and build this organization into a playoff contender. Adding a point guard to get their shooters involved is a must. Bertans, KCP, Kispert have to be a high priority, next to making Deni Avdija and Rui Hachimura good NBA players.
Loser: Anthony Davis
With another ball-dominant guard on the roster, his role within the offense could potentially find himself in that third option role, and I don’t think that is the best role for him. And by trading for Russell Westbrook, the Lakers will almost certainly have him playing at the center position, which is not AD’s preference. Yes, he is a great rim protector, but he has been injury-prone over the last few seasons, and him being at the 5, having to bang down low with guys like Jokic, Ayton, and others every night could set him up for more injuries down the road.
Winner: Kyle Kuzma
After his rookie season, many fans around the NBA thought Kyle Kuzma was the steal of the 2017 draft, but his stock has dropped dramatically, especially in the last two seasons. But with a change of scenery, Kuzma could potentially return to his old self when he averaged 17 points and 6 rebounds per game over his first two years in the league.
Loser: Lakers championship hopes
The depth of the Lakers was already terrible last year, and trading away three good depth pieces plus their FRP just killed their depth. The only other player the Lakers have under contract outside of the big three is Marc Gasol. But the rest of their roster will consist of MLE players and veteran minimums, as they do not have a lot of cap space to create a quality, well-rounded team. Come playoff time, this will be a huge, huge problem. Just look at the Brooklyn Nets these past playoffs, once Kyrie Irving and James Harden went down with injuries, it was a KD one-man show, which lost in 7 to the Bucks. With AD’s well-documented injury history, LeBron being 37 by the time next year starts, and Westbrook’s lack of a quality shot, the Lakers could be early favorites, but be potential disappointments.
Winner: Bradley Beal
No huge contracts in the way, depth, a new head coach, and cap space. This is truly Bradley Beal’s organization, and he has a chance to make his mark. Trying to recruit upcoming free agents to come to DC was a stretch, but now with a master plan in place, Beal can sell free agents that DC is the place to be going forward. With numerous reports about Beal not wanting to leave the Wizards, they can now look to free agency and get back into the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference. New, young pieces mixed with hungry veterans that they can sign in free agency, the future for Washington is on an upward trend.