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The Blockbuster Trade That Could Happen This Summer: Russell Westbrook To Charlotte Hornets, Gordon Hayward And Kelly Oubre Jr To Los Angeles Lakers

The Blockbuster Trade That Could Happen This Summer: Russell Westbrook To Charlotte Hornets, Gordon Hayward And Kelly Oubre Jr To Los Angeles Lakers

There is no secret that the Lakers want to move on from Russell Westbrook, and the team emerging as the likely landing spot for the former MVP is none other than the Charlotte Hornets. Michael Jordan’s team is interested in the services of Westbrook, and that could be very good news for Lakers fans and the Lakers organization. After a season filled with frustration and poor play, moving on from Westbrook would be the right step in the right direction.

There might be some other teams that might want to take Westbrook on their books, but the leading team right now is the Charlotte Hornets. A team on the come-up, Charlotte is one of the most exciting teams in the Eastern Conference thanks to the leadership of young All-Star LaMelo Ball. If they end up trading for Russell Westbrook, it could affect both the Lakers and Hornets in the short and long term. Without further ado, here is the expected trade package that sees Russell Westbrook joining the Hornets.

Trade Package: Gordon Hayward, Kelly Oubre Jr for Russell Westbrook, 2027 First-Round Pick

Los Angeles Lakers Save LeBron’s Career By Giving Him A Championship Squad

Los Angeles Lakers Save LeBron’s Career By Giving Him A Championship Squad

The Lakers need to capitalize on the play of their superstar player, LeBron James. The King was at his best on the offensive end, putting up 30.3 PPG on 52.4% shooting from the field at age 37. For a player of his greatness at that age, the Lakers need to surround him with the best possible pieces to allow him to carry the team to the Finals. By moving on from Westbrook, they are giving LeBron some breathing room to continue his greatness.

There is no way that James will ever be able to get along on the court with Russ, as both are ball-dominant players without the ability to space the floor at an elite level. With Westbrook, LeBron had to endure a turnover-prone point guard who is a putrid shooter from the floor (29.8% 3-PT FG, 66.7% FT). Without Westbrook, James can go back to his primary ball-handling role as the team searches for a capable starting point guard.

Anytime a roster has LeBron James and Anthony Davis, they should be expected to contend. Moving Westbrook is a massive pro for the Lakers because it gives them the chance to take back better-quality fits alongside James and Davis including Gordon Hayward and Kelly Oubre Jr who are solid floor-spacers and better defenders than the team currently has.

Hayward only played in 49 games this season but was still able to contribute quite well when on the court. The swingman put up 15.9 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.0 SPG, and 0.4 BPG while shooting 39.1% from the three-point line. Clearly, he is a better defender than Russ and also a more consistent outside shooter. Compared to Westbrook’s 29.8% shooting from three, Hayward is an immediate upgrade.

The former All-Star will also be willing to accept a rotation role against certain opponents, coming off the bench as a 6th man when needed, unlike a defiant Russell Westbrook. Thanks to his efficient floor-spacing, it is likely Hayward starts alongside James and Davis as much as possible. Most importantly, Hayward brings size at 6’7” and can provide veteran leadership in the locker room.

Meanwhile, Kelly Oubre Jr finally brings some young blood to the team at age 26 and has two-way capabilities since he stands 6’7” and weighs 203 lbs. The swingman played 26.4 MPG in 75 games played, mainly as a 6th man for the Hornets. In that role, he was very solid by putting up 15.1 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 1.0 SPG while shooting 34.5% from three. While he is not an elite outside shooter by any means, he is more efficient than Russ and has the youth to be a factor on defense.

Losing out on the 2027 first-round pick could be a sacrifice the Lakers have to make, but who really cares what happens to them in the 2027 or 2028 season? They have a top-5 player of all-time in LeBron James on their roster at the moment alongside Anthony Davis in his prime, so surrounding them with two players who can easily play 30 MPG is the right thing to do. A lineup with LeBron, Monk (re-signed to a long-term contract), Hayward, Oubre, and Davis would be hard to compete with.

Charlotte Hornets Have Empty Cap Space For The Future

Charlotte Hornets Have Empty Cap Space For The Future

There is no doubt that the Charlotte Hornets are an up-and-coming team led by All-Star LaMelo Ball and the improving Miles Bridges. They are currently fighting for the playoffs this year, and there isn’t much expectation on the team over the next few seasons. Ball is only 20 years old and has yet to grow into his “man body” just yet.

By pulling the deal for Russell Westbrook, who is making $47 million next year, they have a chance to give LaMelo and Bridges a roster with plenty of cap space. That means in a few years' time when Ball and Bridges have more experience under the belt, the Hornets have the space to sign free agents and acquire All-Star-caliber players to help take the team to the promised land.

By taking on Russell Westbrook (who will turn 34 next year), the Hornets are stunting their short-term growth because Kelly Oubre Jr (15.1 PPG on 34.5% 3-PT FG) is one of their better players. Gordon Hayward (15.9 PPG on 39.1% 3-PT FG) has only played 49 games but has been a solid outside shooter when healthy. There is no doubt that Westbrook is not the most natural fit alongside LaMelo Ball.

But considering what Russ has had to endure over the past few seasons, he might accept a 6th man role for the Hornets or start improving his outside shooting in the offseason. Perhaps most importantly, there is no secret that Michael Jordan is a fan of Russ as a basketball player. Jordan approved of Westbrook’s effort when he is on the floor, and he certainly plays hard in a competitive fashion. Whether that leads to efficiency is another topic for discussion, but acquiring Westbrook would certainly give Jordan more excitement about his current squad.

The Hornets are overpaying for Hayward (over $60 million over the next two seasons), and Oubre Jr is a necessary sacrifice to get rid of the swingman’s contract. Unlike the Lakers who are in win-now mode, the Hornets can afford to take on Westbrook for the sake of clearing cap space for the future. Russ is off the books after next season, and it is almost certain the former MVP will accept his player option next year.

Hornets fans might also have something to look forward to in a possible rejuvenated Westbrook who will find it much easier to play in Charlotte instead of Los Angeles where every inefficiency in his game is under a microscope.

Lakers Can Win Now, Hornets Can Focus On The Future

Overall, this deal makes sense for both teams. The Lakers need to win right now because James will be turning 38 years old next year. The King is still easily a top-10 player in the game, and Davis has top-5 potential. Together, they helped create a championship side in 2020. The team’s calling card was defense and outside shooting, both things that Russell Westbrook cannot provide at this stage of his career.

Rather, Hayward can make threes at a very high clip while also providing size on the wing. Kelly Oubre Jr brings youth, energy, and defensive potential to a squad sorely lacking all three things. Losing the first-round pick might sting a little, but they are getting back two starting-caliber wings for the price of a poorly fit point guard.

Meanwhile, the Hornets focus on the future. They are not going to win in a loaded Eastern Conference as currently constructed. The Bucks, Heat, Nets, 76ers, and Celtics are all miles ahead of Charlotte at this point. LaMelo Ball has superstar potential, but he is a few years away from reaching it. Instead, the Hornets can clear space by moving Hayward and Oubre Jr to sign a legitimate All-Star to pair with Ball and Miles Bridges.

Perhaps most importantly, Charlotte fans get a chance to watch the twilight years of one of the most athletic point guards in NBA history, while also watching their owner Michael Jordan happily watch from the sidelines. The future is bright in Charlotte, and the franchise should focus on the dynamic pairing of Ball and Bridges. Acquiring Russ would be interesting for next season because, after that, the sky is the limit for them.


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