The Los Angeles Lakers are widely expected to try to trade point guard Russell Westbrook this summer and Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz has a trade idea involving the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks.
In a May 2 piece, Swartz proposed that the Lakers trade Westbrook, Kendrick Nunn, Talen Horton-Tucker and a future pick to the Knicks for Evan Fournier. The Nets would then trade Ben Simmons to the Lakers and receive Julius Randle and Nerlens Noel from the Knicks.
Brooklyn would also get a draft pick from Los Angeles.
“Let’s start in L.A., as the Lakers get to move off Westbrook’s remaining $47.1 million contract while getting back two quality starters in return,” Swartz wrote. “Simmons would become the newest Lakers point guard, and he now has a whole offseason to rest his ailing back and would get to train and rebuild his confidence next to fellow Klutch client LeBron James. The two have shared a relationship going back to Simmons’ LSU days when he would sit courtside at Cleveland Cavaliers games to watch James, and the four-time MVP would take the 25-year-old three-time All-Star under his wing.
“A lineup featuring Simmons, James and Anthony Davis would require a good amount of shooting around them, however, and Fournier averaged 14.1 points per game for the Knicks last season while hitting nearly 40 percent of his catch-and-shoot threes. Getting rid of Westbrook while adding Simmons and Fournier is worth giving up young talent and future picks for, especially if it helps convince James to sign an extension or re-sign with the franchise in 2023. The move also saves the Lakers $9.1 million this year.”
LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Simmons are represented by Rich Paul of Klutch Sports. Simmons didn’t play at all this season due to mental health issues and a back injury. Meanwhile, James and Davis only played in 22 games together.
Westbrook Struggled with Lakers; Simmons Could Help LA on Defense
The Lakers had the second-best preseason odds to win the championship this season. James, Davis and Westbrook were projected to be a lethal Big Three.
However, Los Angeles was a walking disaster all season and missed the playoffs.
Westbrook appeared in 78 games this season. He averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists while shooting 44.4% from the field, 29.8% from beyond the arc and 66.7% from the free-throw line. The one-time MVP was second in the NBA in turnovers and his lack of shooting skills made him a bad fit next to James and Davis.
Westbrook had an effective field goal percentage of 47.6%, which was sixth-worst in the NBA.
The last time we saw Simmons play was during the 2021 playoffs when he was on the Philadelphia 76ers. The three-time All-Star has career averages of 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists and he’s one of the best defenders in the NBA. Simmons won the 2019-20 steals title and has made two All-Defensive teams.
However, like Westbrook, Simmons can’t shoot jumpers. He’s a career 14.7% shooter from beyond the arc and has only made five 3-pointers, which is why the addition of Fournier would be key for the Lakers in this trade proposal.
Fournier Is a Good Shooter
Fournier is a terrific 3-point shooter. He shot 38.9% from beyond the arc this season with the Knicks and made 241 3-pointers.
When James, Davis and Simmons drive to the basket and collapse the paint, Fournier could roam around the arc and spot up for open 3-pointers. He’s a career 38.1% shooter from deep, good for 54th among active players.
If the Lakers, Knicks and Nets completed this trade, Los Angeles could throw out a starting lineup of Simmons, Austin Reaves, Fournier, James and Davis.