Itís Sunday afternoon and Iím bored, so letís take on the terrible Wizards situation, merge them with the Lakers desire to attract LeBron, and see what we get.
First off, the Wizards, while a team that matches up reasonably well with the Celtics and so scares fans on this site at times, are incredibly poorly constructed and need to be re-engineered. They have two stars that donít like playing with role players, including the third max-level player on their own team, and are not afraid to say so. They finished in 8th place this season and lost in the first round despite having the leagueís fourth highest payroll. They are already over the luxury tax next season with only 10 players on their roster ó so theyíre not able to rely on any external improvements. And in a year Wallís Supermax extension kicks in, nearly doubling his $19 million salary, which further kicks in their ability to make any improvements through free agency in the summer of 2019. Who they are is who theyíll be barring a trade. Theyíre not an old team, but theyíre not terribly young either, so internal improvements are less likely to come from skill development.
Meanwhile, the Lakers want to attract LeBron and a second star in free agency. But Paul George and LeBron arenít getting it done vs. Golden State, who has four star players. The Lakers need four stars of their own.
Accordingly, the Lakers release all non-guaranteed players except for Thomas Bryant. This gives them a little over $60 million to split between LeBron and PG13. That means one or both arenít quite getting the max. However, if they are willing to figure it how to split the difference (both could sign one-year deals and be eligible for 20% raises next year wiping away most of the salary loss from this year), the Lakers could then make the following trade:
Everyone left on the Lakers (Deng, Ball, Ingram, Kuzma, Hart, Bryant) for Wall and Beal. The math works (trust me) thanks to Bryant being included. Otherwise theyíre a few hundred thousand short.
Anyway, the Lakers now have FOUR, not three, stars to run at the Warriors. They fill out their roster with the room exception and ring-chasers. Itís incredibly top-heavy, but itís got a top-tier core that really could compete with Golden State. Beal is under contract for three more seasons and Wall for six, so while the ultimate salary costs will be high for the Lakers, they are ultimately affordable thanks to LAís resources, and also predictable.
Meanwhile, the Wizards get to pair some of the Lakers young players with Porter, the #15 pick, and perhaps Oubre going forward, while dropping under the luxury tax. I think the Wizards could be entitled to another pick from LA also, as both Beal and Wall are in-their-prime stars under team control for several years. The return in prospects is nice from LA, but Dengís contract is terrible.
The Wizards probably take a step back this year, but maybe not a giant one if the new players show better cohesion as a team than Wall and Beal did. The 8th seed would certainly be in reach, and youíd expect the team to keep improving as the future progressed, while also having a greater measure of salary flexibility.
And the Lakers get a Big 4. Two problems solved at once.