Proposed Trade Lands Lakers Ex-No. 1 Pick, $54 Million Wing & $26 Million Guard for Russell Westbrook

Lakers guard Russell Westbrook

Getty Lakers guard Russell Westbrook

The Los Angeles Lakers are actively trying to trade Russell Westbrook, with Shams Charania of The Athletic reporting on July 25 that the Utah Jazz, New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers are among the teams who have discussed deals with the purple and gold involving Westbrook and draft picks.

However, no trades appear to be looming in those conversations, which is why Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes believes the Lakers should make a Westbrook trade with the Orlando Magic. In an August 2 column, Hughes proposed that the Lakers trade Westbrook, a 2027 first-round pick and a 2023 second-round pick to the Magic for Markelle Fultz, Gary Harris and Terrence Ross.

“If I’m the Magic, I’m asking for both available first-round picks from the Lakers,” Hughes wrote. “That Westbrook remains in Los Angeles to this point suggests the Lakers aren’t keen on surrendering their 2027 and 2029 firsts in tandem, so it seems like this deal is only getting done if Orlando is willing to accept just one of those. The 2023 second-rounder is a consolation prize.

“Westbrook’s $47.1 million salary is substantial, but it’s only about $6 million more than the combined total of Fultz, Harris and Ross. Orlando will still be in line to have over $50 million in cap space next offseason after Westbrook’s contract expires. Ideally, the Magic would buy Russ out, pocket the picks and move on to the next step in their rebuild armed with more assets.”

Westbrook, the NBA’s all-time leader in triple-doubles with 194, started 78 games for the Lakers last season. The nine-time All-Star and three-time assists champion averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists. The Lakers went 31-47 in Westbrook’s 78 appearances and Westbrook was second in the NBA in turnovers and had the sixth-worst effective field goal percentage in the league.

Hughes: Fultz, Ross & Harris Could Help Lakers

Hughes thinks Fultz, Ross and Harris can help the Lakers compete in the rugged Western Conference next season. Los Angeles missed the playoffs last season despite having LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony and Westbrook.

“The Lakers’ side of this isn’t complex. They finally jettison Westbrook, using their extremely limited pick equity to do so,” Hughes wrote. “As part of the bargain, L.A. also brings back three guards who will either start or figure prominently in the 2022-23 rotation. Harris is a steady two-way wing whose three-point shooting (38.4 percent last year) and on-ball defense are both in short supply on the Lakers’ current roster, Ross is the spark-plug bench scorer L.A. lacks and Fultz is the defense-first distributor whose shooting limitations won’t be any more painful than Westbrook’s were.”

Fultz, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft, averaged 10.8 points and 5.5 assists in 18 games for the Magic last season. He missed most of the campaign recovering from a torn left ACL. Meanwhile, Harris averaged 11.1 points and 2.0 rebounds in 61 contests and Ross averaged 10.0 points and 2.6 rebounds in 63 appearances.

Lakers Can’t Bring Westbrook Back; He May Not Be on Good Terms with LeBron

James and Westbrook, two future Hall of Famers, didn’t sit next to each other or say hello during the Lakers’ Summer League game on July 8 in Las Vegas. James sat on the south baseline, while Westbrook positioned himself on the opposite sideline.

Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register reported on July 15 that “several people within the Lakers organization acknowledged it was an awkward and tense moment between its two most high-profile superstars.”

Along with being a poor shooter next to James, Westbrook reportedly didn’t like being held accountable last season. The Athletic’s Jovan Buha reported on July 20 that the guard was contentious in film sessions when coaches pointed out his mistakes.

“From stuff I heard last season, like during film sessions, he would, you know, push back on stuff that was very obvious of like, ‘Hey, you missed this defensive rotation.’ He did not like being the center of attention in those film sessions,” Buha said on The Athletic NBA Show.

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