According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard the Los Angeles Lakers turned down a trade offer from the Minnesota Timberwolves that would have sent talented but troubled forward Michael Beasley to the Lake Show in exchange for a first-round pick. Broussard goes on to say his sources cite the unwillingness of Jerry Buss (or Jim Buss depending on who’s really calling the shots these days) to pay the luxury tax that would have come with covering Beasley’s contract for the remainder of the season. Buss is already into the NBA for a good $18-million in taxes. Toss in Beasley’s $6-million contract, mix in the new luxury laws and just like that the league as another $12-million coming from the Lakers at season’s end.
A few things come to mind regarding this news.
First and foremost it is very clear just what the biggest factor is in any move the Lakers have or will make this season – money. In years past Dr. Buss has been willing to go above and beyond the salary threshold in the endless pursuit of hanging banners. With new luxury tax laws in place it is obvious that Buss doesn’t think it is worth shelling out extra green for this current Laker team.
Call it a business decision. Call it a tightening of the purse strings. Call it whatever you want. Fact of the matter is the Lakers aren’t going to take on any more contracts unless it puts them clearly over the top. No disrespect to Beasley – who would be a massive upgrade at small forward – but he’s nowhere near the type of player that will push Mike Brown’s team to the top of the West.
Lamar Odom was going to be dealt no matter what. That much was clear. That he was moved so quickly after the Chris Paul deal fell through only occurred because the Lakers had a chance to unload his contract in a hurry. That Mitch Kupchak got nothing in return but a trade exception pretty much says it all.
With regards to Beasley, as previously mentioned he’d be an instant upgrade for the Lakers who are getting nothing from their three-headed poodle at small forward. Metta World Peace, Matt Barnes and the recently recalled Devin Ebanks combined aren’t producing what Beasley is for Minnesota.
That being said, Beasley is not worth a first round pick. Not with his history of problems and not with what the Lakers will need going forward. Beasley brings athleticism and an added scoring punch but he won’t make this team a contender. Plus given his abrasive nature and Mike Brown’s inability to handle strong personalities the mix wouldn’t be ideal. Oh…did I forget to mention the trade would also put the Lakers in a bad spot with regards to handling the dead weight contract (let’s call it a Luke Walton) owned by World Peace. Is it too late to play that amnesty card?
Any way you look at it the reality is becoming very clear. The front office has no confidence in the current roster and a slow move towards rebuilding is coming. Unless some massive, over-the-top trade is looming in the background this team is a what-you-see-is what-you-get kind of deal. Buss won’t pay unless he knows there’s a good chance of getting a nice return on his investment.
With the Timberwolves getting ready to do battle in Los Angeles for a second night in a row, this time against the Lake Show, we’ll see how Beasley handles being tied to trade talks. For Minnesota’s sake they’d better hope he fares better than Odom.