The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly discussing a Russell Westbrook trade with a heated rival.
LJ Ellis of SpursTalk reported on January 23 that trade talks between the Lakers and San Antonio Spurs involving Westbrook are “still alive.”
“Interestingly, a team insider says that talks between the Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers that involve Russell Westbrook are still alive,” Ellis wrote. “Those talks have been on the back burner for a couple months but I’ve been told that both the Lakers and Spurs remain open to the possibility depending on how the next two weeks play out prior to the trade deadline.”
The Lakers are interested in acquiring Josh Richardson and Doug McDermott from the Spurs, per Ellis. Under CBA rules, Los Angeles can trade Westbrook and future draft picks to San Antonio for Richardson and McDermott.
If the Spurs acquire Westbrook from the Lakers, they will likely buy him out, per Ellis. The 2016-17 MVP and future Hall of Famer is in the final year of his contract and doesn’t fit San Antonio’s current rebuild timeline.
“The Spurs have made it known that they want a first-round pick for Richardson,” Ellis wrote. “The asking price for McDermott isn’t as clear, however a source close to the team says the Spurs will want something of value in return.”
Lakers Would Be Smart to Acquire Josh Richardson & Doug McDermott for Russell Westbrook
The Lakers need more shooters around stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, so acquiring Richardson and McDermott for Westbrook would be a smart move. Richardson is shooting 36.9% from beyond the arc this season, while McDermott is at 42.1%. Westbrook, meanwhile, is shooting only 29.2% on 3-pointers.
In a January 5 article called “Lakers Trade Targets with 2023 NBA Trade Deadline a Month Away,” Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley said Richardson is a player the Lakers should try to trade for. Richardson is in the final year of his contract. He signed a one-year, $12.2 million extension with the Boston Celtics in August 2021. The 29-year-old swingman, who has played for the Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers, Dallas Mavericks, Celtics and Spurs, will have made more than $56 million in his career once this season ends.
“If the Lakers don’t want to deplete their limited collection of trade assets, Richardson offers a lower-cost alternative,” Buckley wrote. “The 29-year-old is only signed through this season’s end and doesn’t fit the timeline of a San Antonio team rebuilding around…well, probably whomever it plucks from the top of the 2023 draft. It would be in the Spurs’ best interest to deal Richardson for some type of asset before the trade deadline rather than watch him leave for nothing this offseason. Richardson has never approached stardom, but he has settled in as a pesky defender with a reliable outside shot (career 36.4 percent) and some secondary playmaking ability. He could give consistently helpful two-way contributions to a Lakers club that hasn’t gotten nearly enough of them from its role players.”
Lakers Urged to Trade Russell Westbrook No Matter What: ‘It’s Long Past Time’
In a January 2 column called “The Player Every NBA Team Needs to Trade In 2023,” Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report wrote that the Lakers need to trade Westbrook despite the All-Star guard’s improved play off the bench.
“It’s long past time for the Los Angeles Lakers to end the Russell Westbrook era, even if that doesn’t mean the team wins the trade in a landslide,” Bailey wrote. “That seems to be what general manager Rob Pelinka is waiting for, and that deal just might not be out there. In the meantime, the bad fit between Westbrook and LeBron James continues to cost L.A. games and diminish its chances to make the playoffs. Right now, the Lakers have a point differential around that of a 31-win team when Westbrook is on the floor and one around that of a 38-win team when he’s off. That second number certainly won’t blow anyone away, but finishing around 40 wins might get L.A. into the play-in tournament. And if LeBron and Anthony Davis are healthy for win-or-go-home games (big ifs, for sure), you have to like the team’s chances to make the playoffs.”