The Los Angeles Lakers have officially hit their lowest point of the season. If it ended today, they wouldn’t even be in the play-in tournament. There are still a couple of weeks left for the team to get back into the fold but things aren’t looking good with LeBron James banged up.
Even if the Lakers somehow make the playoffs, they aren’t going to make it far barring a miracle. The first order of business this offseason is figuring out what to do with Russell Westbrook. The team needs to get him off the roster regardless of how. In an ideal world, he would simply decline his player option and go to free agency. That’s not going to happen. The team could cut him and stretch his contract but that’s also unlikely to happen. The Lakers will likely need to trade Westbrook and options are limited.
However, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report pitched a possible trade that would get the team off the guard while also getting a couple of impactful pieces:
A wild (but cap-worthy) four-team fake trade idea like Westbrook to the Thunder, with Mason Plumlee and [Gordon] Hayward from Charlotte (plus [Mike] Muscala) to the Pacers, plus Myles Turner to the Hornets and [Malcolm] Brogdon, [Buddy]Hield and [Derrick] Favors to the Lakers is a lot to digest. Players like [Mason] Plumlee, Muscala and Favors can go elsewhere, and P.J. Washington could make some sense for the Thunder but would require additional salary out of OKC.
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This Trade Would Be a Miracle for the Lakers
In this proposal from Pincus, the Indiana Pacers would be saving the Lakers. Brogdon would take over as the starting point guard and Hield would be the starting shooting guard. Both players hit over 38.5% of their 3-point shots, which would be a major boost. They can also score as they both have averaged over 15 points a game through the last four seasons.
Brogdon is also a player who can make an impact on defense and would be an upgrade over Westbrook on that side of the floor. Hield isn’t much of a defender but is one of the best shooters in the league. As Pincus noted, Favors isn’t a necessary part of the deal. Brogdon and Hield are the selling points.
How Can Lakers Convince Pacers to Make This Deal?
Pincus pitched this as a four-team trade but the Lakers need to be focused on the Pacers. The team is going nowhere fast and could be interested in offloading some big contracts. Adding Westbrook would hurt for next season but his massive salary comes off the books in 2023, which would give Indiana ample cap space to rebuild the roster. Plus, there’s no doubt the Lakers would sweeten the pot with whatever draft picks they can offer.
Brogdon and Hield for Westbrook makes sense from a salary standpoint. The two teams can deal without having to get others involved. Perhaps getting Westbrook and two first-round picks for the guards would be worth it. Brogdon will be a free agent after next season and it’s hard to imagine he’ll want to return to a rebuilding team. Barring a better offer, the Pacers would be wise to get something for him. Whatever general manager Rob Pelinka needs to do to make this deal worth it for Indiana, he’s gotta make it happen.