As the NBA trade season kicks off, the Los Angeles Lakers would really like to wash their hands of Russell Westbrook. Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, the desperation to build a contender has the Nets pondering Kyrie Irving's place on the team.
But in a recent article by Bleacher Report's Eric Pincus, he suggested a way that both teams could help each other in a blockbuster three-team deal that would send Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward to Los Angeles, Russell Westbrook to Charlotte, and Terry Rozier, Talen Horton-Tucker, and Kendrick Nunn to the Nets.
The Charlotte Hornets would like to get out of Gordon Hayward's hefty salary, but the Lakers don't have a massive appetite for a player with a significant injury history. But if a trade doesn't cost Los Angeles any draft compensation, it could be through Charlotte if the team is also willing to give up Terry Rozier.
That's also assuming the Nets would do Irving for Rozier, who is owed $96.3 million over the next four seasons (most of which is guaranteed). If so, Brooklyn would also add a $15.4 million trade exception.
The penalty for the Lakers is taking on Hayward's $61.6 million over the next two seasons, along with Irving. Los Angeles would need to include Horton-Tucker or a package of Nunn and one additional player (Wenyen Gabriel or a free agent via sign-and-trade to Charlotte). The Nets could take on Horton-Tucker or Nunn if that holds any appeal.
The Hornets might value Westbrook, a Jordan Brand athlete, for what he's still capable of on the court.
Despite Kyrie Irving's flaws, he is a pretty significant upgrade over Russell Westbrook, and he has won a title alongside LeBron James before. Irving and Gordon Hayward, who would be an expensive addition for L.A., could finally give the Lakers the shooting they have needed.
Meanwhile, the Hornets get a proven All-Star and Jordan athlete in Westbrook, who would make an exciting pairing next to LaMelo Ball. Russ only has one year left on his deal.
Lastly, for the Nets, they come out as winners simply for moving on from Irving, who has given them nothing but trouble since his arrival. In exchange for his services, they get some depth and very capable youngsters who can help bring balance and build up the future of the team.
On paper, it's a deal that comes with a lot of perks for all sides and would shift the balance of power in the league. In reality, it's an unlikely scenario that will probably be forgotten about.
Still, it's fun to dream, and you never really know how things will play out in the NBA.