Major changes are needed for the Lakers to contend for a championship again while LeBron James is still in LA and Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype believes the first order of business is to trade Russell Westbrook.
“The first order of business for the Lakers is moving on from Russell Westbrook. His poor performance this season along with his $47 million salary for next year will make him one of the most negative value assets this offseason,” Gozlan wrote. “Teams will naturally want an asset just to take him on, but the Lakers are severely limited in stuff to offer. The real question is what kind of concessions are the Lakers willing to make to get rid of him?”
One trade Gozlan mentions is the Lakers trading Westbrook to the Utah Jazz for Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic. According to ESPN’s trade machine, that deal is eligible to be made.
“If the Lakers were to package one or both of their 2027 or 2029 first-round picks with Westbrook, they’d ideally want to acquire good role players in return,” Gozlan wrote. “For example, perhaps there is a deal with the Indiana Pacers where they can get two of Myles Turner, Malcolm Brogdon, and Buddy Hield for that package. Or if the Utah Jazz were to blow things up, Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic could make some sense.”
Jazz Would Probably Never Do This Trade
The Jazz would likely never agree to this trade. Although Westbrook is averaging more points, assists and rebounds than Conley this season, Conley is shooting 41.0% from beyond the arc, while Westbrook is shooting a woeful 29.8% from deep.
It would make no sense for the Jazz to acquire a ball-dominant player like Westbrook who can’t shoot and pair him next to Donovan Mitchell, one of the most gifted young scorers in the league.
The Lakers would be committing highway robbery if they were able to pull off this trade. Not only would they be getting a quality point guard in Conley who can space the floor with his shooting, but they would also be acquiring one of the best shooters in the league in Bogdanovic, a career 39.2% shooter from beyond the arc.
LeBron and Anthony Davis would have ample space on the floor to drive to the basket playing with Conley and Bogdanovic since opposing defenders can’t leave shooters open on the perimeter. Westbrook doesn’t fit with LeBron and Davis since he isn’t a threat to shoot from the outside, which allows defenses to load up on the King and the Brow.
The Lakers will presumably have a hard time trading Westbrook this summer. The one-time MVP leads the NBA in turnovers this season and is set to make $47,063,478 in 2022-23 if he picks up his player option, a route he will certainly take.
Lakers May Be Stuck with Westbrook
There’s a chance Westbrook may be on the Lakers again next season due to his low trade value. After LA lost to the Phoenix Suns on April 5, Westbrook was asked if he would like a chance to remain with the franchise next season.
“I mean, that’s the plan, but nothing is promised,” Westbrook said. “Yes, we want to be able to see what that looks like, what that entails over the course of an 82-game season, but we’re not sure if that’s guaranteed either. So I just hope that we have a chance to be able to do something.”
It’s evident now that the Lakers should have never traded for Westbrook. While general manager Rob Pelinka will probably try to move the guard this summer, it may be an impossible task.