Lakers Trade Target to Have NBA’s Second-Highest Salary Next Season: Report

Lakers GM Rob Pelinka

Getty Lakers GM Rob Pelinka

The Los Angeles Lakers are expected to try to trade Russell Westbrook this summer and they could look to acquire a player they nearly got at the 2022 trade deadline.

According to Marc Stein of Substack, the Lakers and Houston Rockets will look to revisit a Westbrook for John Wall swap this offseason.

If the Lakers acquire Wall, they’ll be paying the Kentucky product $47,366,760 since Wall will pick up his 2022-23 player option, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

“As expected, John Wall is going to exercise his $47.4 million player option for next season, I’m told,” Scotto reported. “After that, the Rockets will have time to look for a trade to move Wall. If Houston can’t find a trade partner for Wall, his representation at Klutch Sports is expected to work with the Rockets on a buyout agreement before next season. A potential buyout agreement would allow Wall to take advantage of the (free agent) market. Wall turns 32 in September. He’s healthy. I’ve heard he’d like to be on a winning team and have a role.”

Wall sat out the entire 2021-22 season despite being healthy. Since the Rockets were rebuilding, the five-time All-Star and Houston’s front office came to an agreement for the player not to play.

Wall was almost dealt to the Lakers at the trade deadline for Westbrook, but Los Angeles said no to Houston’s offer.

Why Did Lakers Decline Rockets’ Offer?

According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, the Lakers declined the Rockets’ offer of Wall for Westbrook because Houston wanted a first-round pick to be thrown in. Wall is represented by Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, who also represents Lakers superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

The first overall pick in the 2010 draft, Wall last played in 2020-21. He averaged 20.6 points and 6.9 assists for the Rockets while shooting 40.4% from the field, 31.7% from beyond the arc and 74.9% from the free-throw line.

When asked by reporters why he didn’t make a deal at the trade deadline for anyone, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka had this to say: “We were aggressive in a lot of conversations trying to improve the team. We always want to put this team in the best position to win a championship, but ultimately, we didn’t find a deal that had a net positive effect for the short-term success of the team and the long-term and those are both things we consider.”

It will be fascinating to see if the Lakers and Rockets complete a Westbrook-Wall swap this summer. One thing is certain, though: Los Angeles can’t bring Westbrook back.

Lakers Must Get Rid of Westbrook No Matter What

Westbrook struggled with the Lakers this season. Sure, he put up solid per-game numbers of 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists. However, the nine-time All-Star shot only 44.4% from the field, 29.8% from beyond the arc and 66.7% from the free-throw line.

Russ didn’t space the floor at all for LeBron and Davis. Both champions didn’t have enough room to operate when Westbrook shared the court with them since opposing defenses double-teamed them and left Westbrook alone on the perimeter.

Westbrook is a career 30.5% shooter from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Wall is at 32.3%. If the Lakers get Wall, they could become more explosive and dynamic on offense.

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