The Los Angeles Lakers are a team that had a subpar year last season, finishing with a 33-49 record and missing the play-in tournament. There's no doubt that this was not the outcome the team expected, and they have been busy revamping their roster this offseason to try and change things ahead of next season.
Even though they have already made some moves, there is still a chance that the Los Angeles Lakers can make some more trades ahead of next season. It has frequently been reported that the team is trying to find a trade for point guard Russell Westbrook. In this article, we will discuss 3 surprising Russell Westbrook trade scenarios that the Los Angeles Lakers could potentially enact to improve the roster.
Knicks Clear Salary While Lakers Get Win-Now Players
Los Angeles Lakers Receive: Julius Randle, Evan Fournier
New York Knicks Receive: Russell Westbrook
For the Los Angeles Lakers, getting two solid contributors for Russell Westbrook is a win in this trade scenario involving the New York Knicks. Julius Randle is a point forward that can score well near the rim, and he has some floor spacing ability. He was an All-Star during the 2020-21 season, and there is a chance that Julius Randle will end up bouncing back to being at or close to that level in a new environment. Playing off of LeBron James and Anthony Davis could make life easier for Randle offensively.
Evan Fournier is an elite 3PT shooter that can knock down a variety of looks from range, whether they be of the pull-up or catch-and-shoot variety. He shot 38.9% from beyond the arc last season, and adding a lengthy wing like Fournier with shooting abilities will greatly benefit the spacing on the roster. He is the type of player that can punish the wide-open looks that he will get with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The New York Knicks will benefit from this trade, as they will be clearing a lot of long-term salary by moving for Russell Westbrook, which will allow them to sign free agents in the future. Since they are viewed as a big market and a top-tier destination, they are more likely to use cap space to sign someone outright in free agency. Overall, this deal benefits both sides, as the Lakers will get a win-now contributor while the Knicks will get some salary relief.
Heat Move Off Long-Term Money While Lakers Add Good Veteran Players
Los Angeles Lakers Receive: Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson
Miami Heat Receive: Russell Westbrook
The Los Angeles Lakers would be getting two solid veterans with this trade. Both Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson are experienced players that are no strangers to performing in a playoff atmosphere. Lowry can be that floor spacing floor general next to LeBron James. He won a championship in 2019 with the Toronto Raptors, and Lowry knows how to fill a smaller role next to a superstar.
Duncan Robinson would give the Los Angeles Lakers an elite shooter next to LeBron James due to his off-ball movement. There is no doubt that LeBron James elevates shooters by getting them easier shots with his playmaking. Duncan Robinson's floor spacing will, in turn, be beneficial for LeBron James' drives to the rim.
For the Miami Heat, getting Russell Westbrook gives them a point guard that is capable of scoring and playmaking at the same time. Their scoring was an issue in the playoffs, and perhaps Russell Westbrook can help the Miami Heat address that. The Miami Heat would also clear a lot of long-term money committed to Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson off their books by making a move for Russell Westbrook's expiring contract. There are clearly multiple benefits to making this move for both teams, and we'll see if a trade with a similar framework happens in the future.
Bulls Get A Durable Point Guard And Elite Draft Compensation
Los Angeles Lakers Receive: Lonzo Ball, Nikola Vucevic
Chicago Bulls Receive: Russell Westbrook, 2027 First-Round Pick, 2029 First-Round Pick
The Chicago Bulls were a team that was fairly inconsistent over the course of last season. While they were a top-tier team at the start of the season, Lonzo Ball got injured, and the team ended up as the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. Nikola Vucevic had a down year as well, and there's no doubt that the team needs to switch some things up in order to be truly competitive in the Eastern Conference. Perhaps a move for Russell Westbrook could be the answer for them.
Russell Westbrook would give the team a consistent regular season performer who is also an elite playmaker and rebounder. There is no doubt that he could make life easier for DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine by running the offense and letting them focus on scoring. That could potentially lead to an overall positive team offense. Obviously, in this scenario, since the Chicago Bulls are giving up two fairly valuable players, two first-round picks are attached to Russell Westbrook's contract to make this happen. The first-round picks attached would be conveyed in 2027 and 2029 and thus would be outside of the Lakers' contending window, likely making them top-tier.
For the Los Angeles Lakers, this is about getting two solid role players that can work well next to Anthony Davis and LeBron James. Nikola Vucevic is a big man that is capable of spacing the floor and rebounding at a high level. He would be a perfect fit next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis and could potentially thrive in a smaller role on the Los Angeles Lakers.
Lonzo Ball is a great two-way point guard when healthy. He provides multi-positional defense and playmaking and can also shoot the ball fairly well. Ball will fit well with Darvin Ham's defense-first philosophy. There is no doubt that Lonzo Ball is the perfect secondary ballhandler to pair with LeBron James due to his skillset and lower usage rate for a point guard.
Overall, this deal has some benefits for both teams. The Los Angeles Lakers could potentially end up getting two fantastic complementary players next to their superstars, while the Chicago Bulls would get a player that could help them by playing consistently throughout the regular season. It remains to be seen if the two teams can come to an agreement that is close to this, but this is a deal that could work well for both franchises.