The Los Angeles Lakers might have to admit at some point that they made a mistake in dealing for former MVP, Russell Westbrook. Now, it is no secret that they want to move on from the out-of-form point guard. On the court, he did not get along at all with LeBron James and the hope that The King would figure it out is now a thing of the past. The Lakers must part ways with Russ as soon as possible in order to improve their prospects since they run the risk of continuing to use him as their starting point guard. Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook might be on a mission to dispel the myth that he has passed his prime and is no longer capable of playing at an All-Star level.
Well, there might be some progress in the planning. It has been rumored that Russell Westbrook has put his Los Angeles home up for sale, which may be fantastic news for Lakers supporters and the team as a whole. Not to mention, Los Angeles made major moves to bring in Dennis Schroder and Patrick Beverley, both guards that fit better alongside LeBron James. No doubt, parting ways with Westbrook would be the best course of action for the Lakers and the player himself following a season marred by disappointment and subpar performance.
There might be some other teams that might want to take Westbrook on their books, and there are 3 leading teams right now. No doubt, Westbrook is still one of the most exciting players in the NBA because he still has enough athleticism to sell out seats and his triple-double ability has somehow captivated fans every night. If the Lakers do end up trading Russell Westbrook, it could affect both the team and the players in the short and long term. Without further ado, here are the expected trade packages that see Russell Westbrook joining a brand new team next year while the Lakers get the right pieces to contend in 2023.
Trade Package: Mike Conley Jr., Jordan Clarkson for Russell Westbrook, 2027 First Round Pick
The fact that the Utah Jazz let go of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert is proof that the team is on the rise thanks to the Utah Jazz. The All-Star pair ought to have gotten along on the court, but it turned out that the whispers were genuine. Mitchell was a genuine superstar, Gobert won multiple Defensive Player of the Year awards, and the Jazz went all-in by acquiring players like Bojan Bogdanovic and All-Star point guard Mike Conley Jr. A point guard who will shortly turn 35 years old is obviously not in the plans for a Jazz team that is rebuilding.
Conley fits better with the Los Angeles Lakers because he is a far better shooter and defender than Westbrook and will fit perfectly alongside LeBron James in the lineup. The former Memphis Grizzlies star has shot over 40% from three the past two seasons and is a steady point guard who is perfect as a third or fourth option on a championship team. The Lakers could change their entire lineup with the acquisition of Conley, and all they might need to give up is a first-round pick.
Perhaps most importantly, Los Angeles will add a capable scorer who can score in bunches off the bench. Jordan Clarkson won the Sixth Man of the Year award in 2021 and averaged 16.0 PPG in what was considered a “down year”. Having a player who can average at least 15 PPG with ease, shoot at least 36% from three, and even go off for 20+ points when feeling hot is invaluable for a contending Lakers team. Getting two valuable guards for the price of one expiring contract and a first-round pick would be a dream come true for the Lakers, and especially for LeBron James. Remember, Clarkson was LeBron’s teammate in the 2018 season when he made the NBA Finals.
Of course, Russell Westbrook also benefits from this trade. Westbrook may serve as the Jazz's primary ball-handler and performer, returning to his triple-double form with the hopes of being selected to an All-Star Team once more. In order to prove he is not a washed-up player and to end his career on a positive note, the former MVP needs his own team in the latter stages of his career. Naturally, Westbrook's record will be cleared in 2024, which is in line with Utah's strategy. Collin Sexton, who can learn how to play hard and put up high numbers, can also benefit from Russ' presence.
Trade Package: Buddy Hield, Myles Turner for Russell Westbrook, 2027 First Round Pick, 2029 First Round Pick
The Indiana Pacers and Los Angeles Lakers have been in conversation all summer long, because the Lakers want their two starters but the Pacers won’t accept a deal without two first-round picks. That is the fixed deal, and all the Lakers need to do is accept it. Buddy Hield and Myles Turner hit two birds with one stone for the Lakers in terms of shooting and defense. Hield is shooting 39.8% from three over his career while Turner has led the NBA in blocks in 2 separate occasions. Losing the two first-round picks will hurt the Lakers in the long term, but going after another championship is far more important.
It has been reported that the Lakers went for Westbrook instead of Buddy Hield last year, and that has clearly backfired. Los Angeles has a chance to right their wrongs by bringing in an elite sharpshooter but also adding in a center who has led the NBA in blocks and can also hit outside shots. Surrounding two shooters around LeBron makes a ton of sense, and Turner provides cover for Anthony Davis by giving the All-Star a chance to return to his favored power forward position. Of course, Westbrook gets his chance to start games and be the undisputed man in Indiana as a mentor to budding star Tyrese Haliburton.
The Pacers only have a year of Westbrook on the roster before having over $40 million off their salary cap, so that would be a solid rebuilding move along the first-round picks. Indiana might want to tank for Victor Wembanyama, and losing games on purpose while marketing a former MVP in Westbrook could make a ton of sense for the franchise. No doubt, this deal works best for the Los Angeles Lakers and specifically, LeBron James. The only thing that remains for the Lakers is to accept the fact they will have to drop their draft assets for the sake of contending over the next two years. The future after LeBron James will look bleak, but they have to do what needs to be done to appease a frustrated Lakers Nation.
San Antonio Spurs
Trade Package: Josh Richardson, Doug McDermott for Russell Westbrook
The San Antonio Spurs are clearly tanking as their team is set up for immediate failure with the departure of All-Star Dejounte Murray. Otherwise, there aren’t any untouchables on the roster, perhaps other than Keldon Johnson. San Antonio might want to shed salary with the hopes of finding their “new” Kawhi Leonard, or a player who can come in and lead the team to a championship. Victor Wembanyama is a very solid talent, and he is clearly the goal for a Spurs franchise that wants to grab a big man to become a long-term replacement for the legend that is Tim Duncan. Trading for Russell Westbrook, who has one year left on his deal, places the Spurs in the position to do that.
The Spurs will have a former MVP who is trying to win games by himself and put up triple-double numbers, but that won’t work in the modern NBA. By surrounding Westbrook with average players, there is no way the Spurs will have enough to make the playoffs. Importantly, San Antonio will clear cap space for 2024 as they will not re-sign Russ and possibly have a chance at acquiring Victor Wembanyama in the draft. But no question, Los Angeles and even Russell Westbrook end up being big winners in this deal. For the Lakers, they get rid of Westbrook without having to include any of the valuable first-round picks in the deal. They will acquire a capable perimeter player in Josh Richardson who can make outside shots and act as a perimeter defender.
Also, they get a sharpshooter who can space the floor well in McDermott who shot 42.2% from deep last year. Keeping both valuable first-round picks is definitely ideal for the Lakers’ future, as we have seen in recent trade rumors, and the Lakers might have to accept that they will get two role players at best. No doubt about it, Richardson and McDermott will help the Lakers get back to one of the top-8 seeds in the Western Conference. Of course, the Purple and Gold would rather not have to go through another year with Russ gunking up the works, and getting shooters in return is a more ideal situation.
The Lakers Might Have To Accept Any Of The Above Deals To Give LeBron James A Chance To Win A Championship
The Los Angeles Lakers won’t be able to acquire a third All-Star to pair with LeBron James and Anthony Davis in the lineup for the services of Russell Westbrook. The point guard is no longer an MVP candidate and is barely a top-100 player according to the latest CBS Sports rankings. Therefore, Los Angeles will have to accept one of the three above deals.
The San Antonio Spurs package is devoid of any real impact players but they can provide shooting without the need for the Lakers to give up draft picks. Remember, LeBron James needs shooters around him, and there is no doubt that both Richardson and McDermott provide that far better than Westbrook. The Lakers can also consider what the Utah Jazz have to offer because Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson are both better players than Westbrook right now.
Conley is a steady point guard who can shoot, defend, and make smart plays. Clarkson is a fire starter off the bench and can light it up when he’s feeling it from three. For a team that needs offense outside of an aging LeBron and an injury-prone Davis, these two pieces can be invaluable. Losing draft assets hurts, but again, how much are the Lakers willing to go to compete next year?
Obviously, the Indiana Pacers offer the most attractive pieces for the services of Russell Westbrook. Buddy Hield is a career 39.8% shooter from three and Turner is a shot-blocking machine who will fit perfectly alongside Anthony Davis. The Lakers will greatly improve their starting lineup with this deal, but it will come at a hefty cost in terms of draft picks. Are the Lakers willing to do this deal? If not, they might have to consult the Jazz or the Spurs to gain some hope for the upcoming season because as things stand, they will have to struggle to make the playoffs.