Los Angeles Lakers’ first order of business this offseason would be to get rid of Russell Westbrook. Unfortunately, LA does not have many options after a disappointing season for the Lakers and Westbrook. The former Wizard’s guard has averaged 18.5 points per game this season for the Lakers. It was the first time Westbrook went below an average of 21 since 2009-10. The Lakers acquired him in a huge trade deal from the Washington Wizards in the last off-season. But, the move turned out to be a big misfit in a team led by the likes of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Shockingly, the trio played only 22 games together in the 2021-22 season. As a result, the Los Angeles Lakers were eliminated even before the playoffs. Amid the aftermath of a disappointing season for the Lakers, there have been rumors about the franchise trading Westbrook for Charlotte Hornets’ Gordon Hayward. NBA Insider Marc Stein believes that the Lakers are unlikely to trade Westbrook to Charlotte for an injury-prone Hayward.
Westbrook will surely go with his $47 million (AUD 63m) option for the 2022-23 season. Hence, the Lakers are in a tough situation to find a trade partner for a hefty $47 million player like Westbrook, who had one of the most unpleasing performances of his career. Earlier, Stein reported The Hornets were inspired to take on Westbrook in an attempt to make sufficient cap space to extend players like Miles Bridges and LaMelo Ball. The Hornets are looking to trade vets like Terry Rozier, Kelly Oubre Jr., and Gordon Hayward.
Lakers Unlikely To Trade Westbrook For Hayward
Injuries have been a big concern for Hayward in the past few years. The 32-year-old played 49 games for the Hornets this season with a points average of 15.9 and 4.6 rebounds per game. He only played 44 games last season for the Hornets. In 2017-18, Gordon suffered a brutal ankle injury in the season opener and had to sit out for the rest of the tournament. Moreover, Hayward has two years and a $61.6 million payment left on his contract.
Substack’s Marc Stein reported that the Lakers need to consider the durability factor if they bid on long-term money. Hence, LA must not trade Westbrook for Hayward after his first two injury-prone seasons in Charlotte. Further, Stein pointed out that the 28-year-old Terry Rozier would be Los Angeles’ headliner if the Hornets want to have some concrete trade talks with the Lakers.
The Hornets announced that Hayward was ruled out indefinitely due to a left foot injury earlier this month. He also had to get a cast. He is likely to miss all the playoff games for the Hornets. And the Lakers require someone they can consistently play around LeBron and Anthony to release some pressure from them. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that the Lakers would go for the Hayward trade. The trade is a bad option even if they are desperate to rid of their $47 million liability in Westbrook.