With the arrival of NBA superstar LeBron James to Hollywood this past summer, the Los Angeles Lakers are in somewhat of a difficult spot regarding their supporting cast around James this season. With no clear “number two option” to support LeBron, the Lakers have struggled at points this year.
The Lakers struck out on landing All-Star forwards Paul George and Kawhi Leonard this summer to complement James, and were left with signing a few competent veterans in the offseason to fill out their roster.
With a stockpile of young players on the roster that have a good amount of trade value, it is a possibility that the Lakers could choose to be aggressive before the trade deadline and make a move for another big name around the association, such as Washington Wizards’ All-Star guard John Wall.
Wall is currently signed to a four-year, $170 million deal he signed this past offseason with the Wizards that will begin in the 2019-2020 season. Wall starts off earning around $37.8 million annually in 2019, and will make around $46.8 million by the end of his deal in 2023. The contract also includes a 15 percent trade kicker towards the Wizards salary cap.
Wall is a star player, averaging 21.2 points and 8.4 assists per game on the season for Washington. Pairing him with LeBron James would give the Lakers the proven second scoring option they need come playoff time.
The Wizards are just 11-14 on the year and have had struggles within their locker room. Wall is one of the names the team is currently shopping on the trade market.
Here are three realistic trade packages that the Los Angeles Lakers can put together to try and acquire Wall’s services.
3. The Brandon Ingram Package
Brandon Ingram has had somewhat of an uninspiring start to his 2018 campaign, one that was supposed to skyrocket his career. After a promising year in 2017, averaging 16 points, five rebounds, and four assists per game on 47 percent shooting, Ingram hasn’t shown much progression this year, with all of his averages dropping about a point thus far.
The main reason for these struggles seems to be the addition of LeBron James. James and Ingram have not proven to be successful on the floor together. With LeBron on the court, Ingram is averaging just 15.4 points and 1.9 assists per 36 minutes. With LeBron off the court, Ingram has been sensational, averaging 28.5 points and 4.6 assists per 36 minutes.
Now, these numbers might be slightly tilted due to a small sample size with the two, but it is clear that Ingram and James have been better off running the show individually and at different times.
At 6-foot-9, Ingram is position-less and has even played a little bit of point guard this year for the Lakers. He currently starts every game at the shooting guard spot due to Kyle Kuzma and LeBron starting at the forward positions.
Because of this, the Lakers could look to trade Ingram in hopes 0f adding another guard, such as John Wall. Ingram for Wall straight-up wouldn’t be enough to get the job done, but a package of Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and a protected first round pick or two could be enough, especially with Wall’s huge contract giving some leverage to the Lakers.
A trade like this makes sense for both sides.
With Washington potentially looking to rebuild and trade other star players such as Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr., Ingram would give the team a high-potential piece to rebuild around. Ingram would have the floor to himself and would have the opportunity to run the show and prove his ability as an elite scorer at the NBA level in Washington.
2. The Lonzo Ball Package
On the other hand, Lonzo Ball has been very solid this season for Los Angeles. Though still struggling to score and positively impact his team offensively, Ball has been a force on the defensive side of the ball. He’s made an early case for a spot on the NBA All-Defensive Team at year’s end.
The defensive stats for Ball haven’t necessarily stood out in the box score. He averages just 1.3 steals per game, which isn’t indicative of his impact defensively. Ball is holding opposing point guards to just 35 percent shooting on the year, a remarkable number. He’s turned around the Lakers on that spectrum after a horrible start.
Not only is he making a case for First Team All-Defense, but also is a dark horse Defensive Player of the Year candidate. Despite just shooting 33 percent from three-point land, Ball has done enough on defense to prove that he can be a valuable player long-term in the NBA.
A trade for Wall would probably require a package of Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Ivica Zubac, and future draft picks to get the job done. Though Ball has been more effective than Ingram this year, his shortcomings offensively will require more to get the job done. Kyle Kuzma might also be required in a package with Ball to get a deal like this done.
1. Ingram and Ball Blockbuster
The Washington Wizards might decide that a deal for John Wall would require more than just Lonzo Ball or Brandon Ingram. It is entirely possible that the two might need to be packaged together to get a deal done.
Ball and Ingram would be a lot to give, and the Lakers might be able to get back a veteran such as Markieff Morris from the Wizards to balance the deal.
Sending the former number two overall picks to Washington would give the Wizards their centerpieces to begin a rebuild, while also opening up millions of dollars in cap space for the future.
Trading away Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram would be a bold move from Magic Johnson, one that shows he recognizes the four-year window the Lakers have to win a championship with LeBron James in town. With a move like this, Los Angeles would be fully committed to winning a championship this year or the next.
Wall and LeBron would certainly be fun to watch. The possibilities on the fast break for the two would be endless. However, with other big name superstars potentially on the market (Anthony Davis) it will be interesting to see where – and if – the Lakers invest their prized assets in efforts to win an NBA championship.