The Los Angeles Lakers didn’t trade mercurial point guard Russell Westbrook at the NBA trade deadline.
However, they did try to move the one-time MVP.
According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, the Lakers put Westbrook on the trade block early in the season once it became clear they made a mistake trading for the future Hall of Famer, who leads the NBA in turnovers and has a plus-minus of -123. Los Angeles general manager Rob Pelinka, who traded for Westbrook after LeBron James and Anthony Davis urged him to in the offseason, wanted to acquire a former 3-point contest champion in exchange for the NBA’s all-time leader in triple-doubles.
However, his wish didn’t come to fruition.
Lakers Tried to Trade Westbrook for Hield
Amick reports that the Lakers tried to trade Westbrook to the Sacramento Kings for a package headlined by Buddy Hield. Pelinka came close to acquiring Hield in the summer before shifting gears to a Westbrook trade with the Washington Wizards.
“I wrote in early January about how they showed covert interest in discussing possible Westbrook deals early on this season,” Amick wrote. “The ‘covert’ part, in case anyone wondered, referred to the general idea that they were really hoping Westbrook wouldn’t find out. But more specifically, sources say one such scenario involved Sacramento and — wait for it — a deal in which then-Kings guard Buddy Hield would be sent to the Lakers.
“Yes, that’s the same Buddy Hield who came so close to being traded to the Lakers in the summer before they prioritized the Westbrook trade with Washington and left the Kings fuming.”
The Kings traded Hield, Tyrese Haliburton and Tristan Thompson to the Indiana Pacers for Justin Holiday, Jeremy Lamb, Domantas Sabonis and a 2023 second-round pick. Meanwhile, the Lakers are stuck with Westbrook for the remainder of the season and can only hope he plays better.
Hield would have meshed with LeBron and Davis so much better than Westbrook. The marksman, who won the 2020 3-point contest in Chicago, is a career 40.0% shooter from beyond the arc. Hield is shooting 36.8% from 3-point range this season, while Westbrook is shooting only 29.8%.
The Lakers made a massive error trading for Westbrook instead of Hield in the offseason. Now, they are facing the consequences of their blunder.
Lakers Are Getting What They Deserve for Trading for Westbrook
Anyone who covers the NBA knew Hield would have been a better fit for the Lakers over Westbrook. The Oklahoma product doesn’t need the ball in his hands to flourish and does most of his damage on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers.
Hield would have coexisted nicely with LeBron and Davis since both superstars attract double-teams, freeing up their teammates for open looks.
Since Westbrook isn’t a threat from deep, teams leave him open and dare him to shoot. LeBron can’t drive to the rim if he’s on the same side of the floor as Westbrook since Westbrook’s defender leaves the guard and tries to thwart LBJ’s path to the basket.
If Hield was on the Lakers, LeBron could drive to the cup all game long since Hield’s defender wouldn’t be able to leave him, creating ample space for the King to attack.
The Lakers are in ninth place in the Western Conference. They would be in the play-in tournament if the regular season ended today. While Westbrook isn’t the only one to blame for Los Angeles’ struggles, he’s become the scapegoat since LeBron and Davis are playing well and Hield — the player the Lakers should have gotten — is shooting lights out from the 3-point line.