The Rumor Mill

Darius Soriano —  March 2, 2012

Welcome to the Rumor Mill, a place to talk about all the rumors, innuendo, and speculation about potential Lakers moves as we approach the trade deadline. In this space we’ll offer up links to reports, opinions on the speculation of the day, and anything else trade related that crosses our minds. This may or may not be a daily feature at FB&G, but we hope it can serve as a place to capture the craziness. As an aside, this feature will only run through the trade deadline this season. So, get comfortable but don’t unpack all your bags yet. ‘Cause just like the circus the trade deadline represents, this post will be on its way to the next town in a couple of weeks. On to our first installment…

As we touched on yesterday, the Lakers are obviously looking to improve their roster. There have been whispers that their front office has been one of the most active in making calls around the league, seeking out trade partners to try and improve their team to make another push to compete for a championship.

The most recent rumor (as cited in the linked post above) was the Lakers turning down a deal for Michael Beasley that would have surrendered two first round picks in exchange for the mercurial small forward. The Lakers would have simply absorbed Beasley’s 6.2 million dollar contract via the trade exception they received in the Lamar Odom trade.

There are several issues with this type of trade if you’re the Lakers and, to me, it’s no wonder this deal – if that’s what was really on the table – was turned down. First and foremost is that it surrenders every single asset the Lakers have at their disposal outside of their big three. This upcoming draft is thought to be one of the better ones in years due to several potential one and done college players that are likely to declare as well as other talented collegians that didn’t declare for the last draft due to the lockout. By surrendering their own 1st round pick as well as the pick that they will receive from the Mavericks (top 20 protected), the Lakers opt out of a potentially rich draft. Plus, by giving up their TPE the Lakers would have used their only other means to improve their roster without breaking up their core. By any measure, that’s too much for a player of Beasley’s quality.

Second, this trade has the Lakers take on Beasley’s full contract without sending any salary out. As stated above, Beasley earns 6.2 million dollars this season. While his contract is pro-rated due to the lockout and the Lakers would only be picking up the remainder of what he’s owed this season, they still must pay out luxury tax payments on what they pay him. That means whatever he makes from the Lakers that figure is actually doubled. When you factor in that plus the assents surrendered, it’s simply not a good deal from the Lakers standpoint and it’s much easier to understand why this deal wouldn’t have been made.

What would make more sense is if the Lakers were able to dump some salary on the T’Wolves while also limiting their use of some of their assets. This scenario is exactly what Eric Pincus is reporting at Hoopsworld:

A league source tells HOOPSWORLD the Lakers may have an alternate package that might work for Beasley while preserving their exception. If LA would surrender two first-round picks, the Wolves could swap Beasley for seldom-used forward Luke Walton. The Lakers have two selections in the upcoming draft (their own and a protected first from the Dallas Mavericks).  LA would be able to send both from 2012 or just one and a future pick in 2014.

Now, would the Lakers still give up two first rounders for Beasley? Would getting Walton off their books be enough for that? I’m not sure (though I’m dubious). This scenario would relieve the Lakers of having to use their TPE (an asset that could then be used on a PG, presumably) but if adding salary is really a concern why would the Lakers not want to use the TPE on Beasley but then use it on another player after adding Beasley another way? That’s not something that adds up to me based off the way the original story about Beasley to the Lakers was reported.

Ultimately, I don’t think a deal for Beasley is one that’s on the front burner as the Lakers are still likely holding their assets until the Dwight Howard domino falls. At that point, the Lakers may have a new franchise Center or will need to move onto other plans that help fortify their team. In any event, though, it seems the Lakers are still looking at big moves first with smaller ones being prioritized lower.

Darius Soriano

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