The Los Angeles Lakers’ nightmare season came to an end at the hands of the Phoneix Suns on Tuesday. LA had the second-best odds to lift a title this year during the preseason. Unfortunately, the Lakers were eliminated ahead of the postseason after struggling to win a single game to keep their play-in hope alive.
While there are many reasons why the Lakers failed to perform this season, the presence of Russell Westbrook certainly got highlighted a lot. It is evident that the Lakers should never have traded for Westbrook. If the Lakers have to come back and fight for the title next season, the first order of business is to trade Russell Westbrook. The one-time MVP has played 78 games for LA and scored at a disappointing average of 18.5 points per game. Moreover, he is shooting a terrible 29.8% from deep.
Westbrook is clearly a misfit with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. This is because he is hardly a threat to shoot from the outside. This allows the opponent’s defense to converge on Anthony and LeBron. The Lakers will definitely have a hard time trading Russell this summer. So, what are the possible options for the Lakers to trade Westbrook with some crucial players who could play a formidable role around Davis and James to win the title next season?
Where Can The lakers Send Westbrook?
As per HoopsHype, Russell Westbrook’s disappointing performance this season and his $47 million salary for the next season will make him one of the most negative valued assets in the offseason. The team’s general manager Rob Pelinka will probably try his best to find a new home for Westbrook this summer. However, it might be an impossible task after the Lakers clarified to the other teams that their 2027 first-round picks are off the table.
Under the current circumstances, not many teams would want to get their hands on Russell. Hence, the teams will want something a little extra just to consider the offer of taking on Westbrook. The 33-year-old’s future depends on how much Los Angeles is willing to offer to get rid of him.
According to ESPN’s trade machine, the Lakers are in talks with the Utah Jazz to trade Russell in exchange for Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic. However, if the Lakers want to acquire good players in this trade, they will certainly have to offer one or both of their 2027 or 2029 first-round picks with Westbrook.
Further, there have been rumors that the Indian Pacers would be willing to offer two among Myles, Turner, Malcolm Brogdon, and Buddy Hield. But only if the Lakers bring the first-round picks back on the table. However, the trade with Utah makes more sense for the Lakers. This is because Conley and Bogdanovic could fit much better with James and Davis.
Westbrook’s Trade With Utah Makes Sense For LA
Russell is averaging more points, assists, and rebounds this season than the Jazz’s Conley. However, Conley is shooting 41% from beyond as compared to Westbrook’s 29.8% from deep. Having a high-quality point guard like Conley will provide more space for James and Davis on the floor to go for the basket without many defenders ganging on them. Both Conley and Bogdanovic are a threat to the opponents from the outside. Utah’s Bogdanovic is considered one of the best shooters in the league. He has a career record of 39.2% from beyond the arc.
However, it is quite unlikely that the Utah Jazz will go for the trade. Westbrook is a ball-dominant player. And he would not be able to shoot next to Donovan Mitchell, who is considered one of the most talented young scorers in the league. The LA Lakers will certainly win a grand lottery if they manage to pull this trade with the Utah Jazz.
Russell leads the NBA turnovers this season. He will make around $47,063,478 in 2022-23 if he chooses his player option, which he most probably will. It will make no sense for the Lakers to pay $47 million for a player who doesn’t even fit in their team. But, certainly, the Lakers will not be able to get rid of Westbrook so easily. They will have to make some crucial moves and probably offer their first-round picks if they are interested in rebuilding a champion team.