Proposed Trade Lands Lakers $103 Million Guard & $82 Million Center for Russell Westbrook

Kyle Kuzma (left) and Russell Westbrook

Getty Kyle Kuzma (left) and Russell Westbrook

In a December 1 article called “Los Angeles Lakers Trade Ideas Based on Latest Rumors,” Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale proposed that the Los Angeles Lakers trade Russell Westbrook, Damian Jones and draft picks to the Indiana Pacers.

Favale’s hypothetical trade had the Lakers sending Westbrook, Jones and draft picks to the Pacers for Buddy Hield, Myles Turner and Oshae Brissett. Los Angeles would also get the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 2023 first-round pick.

“Some version of Turner-to-the-Lakers has been discussed approximately 4.9 kazillion times. There’s a reason for it,” Favale wrote. “Turner is the closest acquisition to a star the Lakers can reasonably chase without almost assuredly getting outbid. Dangling swaps in 2026 and 2028 on top of 2027 and 2029 firsts sounds like a lot in theory. And it is. But other teams will offer more for someone like Bradley Beal or Zach LaVine. … Surrendering both firsts is still a tough pill to swallow. The Lakers have to pay Turner this summer—and that’s assuming he wants to stay. And though Hield’s functional shooting is a breath of fresh air for one of the league’s clumpiest offenses, his $19.3 million salary for next season makes it harder for L.A. to operate as a meaningful cap-space team in free agency. … Expanding the deal to include Brissett and the Cavaliers’ 2023 first feels like a nice middle ground. That Cleveland first will be in the 20s if it conveys, and Brissett’s playing time has waxed and waned this season. The Pacers should prefer the chance to short the Lakers’ long-term future over keeping a low-end first and a player on an expiring contract who doesn’t factor into their own bigger picture.”

Favale’s column came in the wake of Jovan Buha of The Athletic reporting on December 1 that the Lakers, who are 10-12, are “weighing three different paths” to improve their roster. The three paths are:

  • Path 1 is to trade Russell Westbrook, plus a pick or two, for a star or multiplayer haul.
  • Path 2 is to trade some combination of Patrick Beverley, Kendrick Nunn and picks (one first-round and/or multiple second-round picks) for role players who better address needs and upgrade the rotation.
  • Path 3 would be two separate deals: one with Westbrook plus one first-round pick, another using a Beverley-Nunn-pick package.

The Lakers and Pacers have discussed a Westbrook trade with the Pacers several times. According to an October 3 report from Buha, Sam Amick and Shams Charania, Los Angeles almost sent Westbrook and unprotected first-round picks in 2027 and 2029 to Indiana for Turner and Hield in October before general manager Rob Pelinka determined that giving up two future draft picks was too steep of a price to pay.

Turner & Hield Bring Specific Skill Sets to the Table

Turner and Hield bring distinct skill sets to the table. The former is one of the best rebounders and shot-blockers in the NBA, while the latter is an elite 3-point shooter.

Turner is averaging 17.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 2.4 blocks this season while shooting 54.4% from the field and 39.4% from beyond the arc. Favale believes the Texas product and Lakers superstar Anthony Davis “should be a relatively seamless fit on offense” together.

“Figuring out how he (Turner) gets to Los Angeles has incited taxing back-and-forths. Why would the Lakers give up their two best trade chips for someone entering free agency who plays Anthony Davis’ best, albeit least favorite, position? It’s a fair question,” Favale wrote. “But Davis and Turner should be a relatively seamless fit on offense thanks to the latter’s outside shooting. And the Lakers can make room for extra Turner touches inside the offense if Westbrook is gone.”

The Lakers need more shooters around Davis and LeBron James, which is why so many pundits think Pelinka needs to acquire Hield. The Oklahoma product is averaging 16.9 points while shooting 36.9% from deep this season.

Hield will have earned more than $103 million in NBA money when his contract finishes following the 2023-24 season. The sharpshooter signed a four-year, $94 million deal with the Sacramento Kings in October 2019. Turner, meanwhile, will have accumulated more than $82 million in his career once this season ends. The center becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2023. Turner signed a four-year, $80 million contract with the Pacers in October 2018.

Report: Not Everyone on the Lakers Believes in Turner & Hield

Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report reported on November 10 it’s not “universally believed internally” within the Lakers organization that a trade for Turner and Hield would move the needle to title contention. The purple and gold are in 12th place in the Western Conference standings.

“With the team’s trajectory trending south, sources indicate the front office is unlikely to attach those picks to a potential trade out of concern that such a transaction would not significantly change the course of the season,” Haynes reported. “It is not universally believed internally that a trade for Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner and sharpshooter Buddy Hield would move the needle to title contention, sources say.”

Dave McMenamin of ESPN reported on November 28 there is a belief shared by leaders in the Lakers’ locker room that the team is only a couple of players away from turning the group into a legitimate contender. Behind Davis and James, Los Angeles is 8-2 over its last 10 games.

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