Before the season began, anyone could have predicted that the Los Angeles Lakers would be involved in trade rumors ahead of the February 9 deadline. However, with Kyrie Irving’s recent trade request from the Brooklyn Nets, things have spiced up.
After the Lakers’ February 4 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, Russell Westbrook, who would likely be shipped out in any trade for Irving, spoke about the swirling trade rumors.
“No, I do not [feel any added pressure due to the rumors],” Westbrook said via Spectrum SportsNet. “That’s not up to me. Like I said, man, I’ve known this is a business since I was 18, 19 years old, as soon as I got in it. My dad taught me that at a young age. Just when you get into this league, it’s a business, and people make businesses dec-, whatever decision that they make. And I make sure I’m ready, professionally, like I always have been and always will be.”
Heading into the year, many expected the Lakers to trade Westbrook, as he didn’t pan out well last season, with LA missing the playoffs (and Play-In Tournament) entirely. However, they kept him around.
New Lakers head coach Darvin Ham transitioned Westbrook into a bench role, and he’s actually played fairly well. Before their game against the Pelicans, in which Westbrook played, the veteran guard had appeared in 50 of the Lakers’ 53 games. He is averaging 15.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 7.6 assists per game on 41.2% shooting from the floor and 28.1% shooting from behind the three-point line.
Adding Irving to the Lakers would seriously help their playoff hopes, but as noted, any deal that sees Irving move to LA would have to include Westbrook being moved elsewhere.
Lakers Don’t Want to Trade Reaves or Christie
While Westbrook’s inclusion in any Irving trade is a foregone conclusion, the Lakers are picky about the other assets they throw in. According to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, LA doesn’t want to include Austin Reaves or Max Christie in a deal for Irving.
“Given Irving’s on-court pedigree and play this season, the Lakers would almost certainly have to include both first-round picks,” Buha wrote. “Protecting one of those picks could result in the Nets asking for the Lakers to perhaps include Austin Reaves or Max Christie, two of the Lakers’ promising young role players. But the Lakers aren’t interested in including either in a potential package, according to those sources.”
Kyrie Irving Value Not Extremely High
In addition, reports have indicated that Irving’s value is not as high as some may believe. According to Andscape’s Marc J. Spears, the Nets may only be able to get expiring contracts or role players in return for Irving.
“I’ve been speaking to six different general managers today, and four of them said that Kyrie had little value, that they thought that maybe they could get some expiring contracts or some role players for him. Of the teams that they mention that could have interest, there was [the] Dallas [Mavericks], [the] Lakers, [the] Miami [Heat] and even the Chicago Bulls.”