According to a September 7th report from Ric Bucher of Fox Sports, the Los Angeles Lakers “have made it readily known” that Russell Westbrook is available for trade and Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz has a trade idea involving the Utah Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves.
In a September 20th piece called “Blockbuster Trade Ideas for 2022-23 NBA Season,” Swartz proposed that the Lakers trade Westbrook and a 2027 first-round pick to the Jazz for Jordan Clarkson and Rudy Gay and Kendrick Nunn and a 2023 second-round pick to the Timberwolves for D’Angelo Russell. Here’s the full trade Swartz proposed:
- Los Angeles Lakers Receive: PG D’Angelo Russell, SG Jordan Clarkson, PF Rudy Gay
- Minnesota Timberwolves Receive: PG Mike Conley, G Kendrick Nunn, 2023 second-round pick (via Los Angeles Lakers)
- Utah Jazz Receive: PG Russell Westbrook (to be bought out), 2027 first-round pick (unprotected, via Los Angeles Lakers)
Per a September 2nd report from Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY Sports, the Lakers “have some interest” in Clarkson, who began his career with the Lakers. Tony Jones of The Athletic reported on September 2nd that Utah is engaged in trade conversations around Clarkson, Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic after trading Rudy Gobert to the Timberwolves and Donovan Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Russell, who also started his career with the Lakers, is eligible to receive an extension offer from the Timberwolves. NBA insider Marc Stein reported in May that numerous rival teams expect Minnesota to try to trade Russell since the guard struggled in the 2022 playoffs against the Memphis Grizzlies and voiced his displeasure about getting benched in Game 6 by head coach Chris Finch.
Clarkson & Russell Would Fit Well on the Lakers
“After the Lakers selected him No. 2 overall out of Ohio State in 2015, Russell returns to give Los Angeles a dynamic upgrade at point guard. The 26-year-old averaged 18.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 1.0 steals for Minnesota last year and can serve as a primary scorer and facilitator on nights when LeBron James and Anthony Davis need a rest,” Swartz wrote about his proposed trade. “Russell has also connected on 39.1 percent or better of his catch-and-shoot threes in three of the past four seasons, proving he can be a capable off-ball threat as well. Clarkson, another former Laker and someone who has experience playing next to James, joins this team as a high-octane sixth man, while Gay provides some veteran forward help off the bench.”
Meanwhile, Russell averaged 18.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 7.1 assists for the Timberwolves while shooting 34.0% from beyond the arc. The one-time All-Star is slated to earn $31.4 million next season in the final year of his contract.
Lakers Need to Get Rid of Westbrook & Acquire More Shooters
The Lakers, who missed the playoffs last season, need more shooters around LeBron James and Anthony Davis if they want to compete in the Western Conference. Los Angeles ranked 22nd in the NBA in 3-point shooting in 2021-22, hitting 34.7% of its team attempts.
Westbrook, the NBA’s all-time leader in triple-doubles, drilled only 79 shots from deep last season in 78 starts. He wasn’t the best fit next to James and Davis due to his inability to make perimeter shots. The nine-time All-Star shot 29.8% from beyond the arc, and among 46 players to take at least 1,000 shots, Westbrook ranked 42nd in true shooting percentage.
Both Clarkson and Russell are better shooters than Westbrook, so this proposed trade by Swartz could help the Lakers get back to the promised land.