Proposed Trade Lands Lakers 7-Time All-Star & Elite Shooter for Russell Westbrook

Lakers guard Russell Westbrook

Getty Lakers guard Russell Westbrook

According to a May 28 report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Los Angeles Lakers will try to find avenues to trade Russell Westbrook this summer.

Westbrook, the 2016-17 MVP, was second in the league in turnovers and his effective field goal percentage of 47.6% was sixth-worst in the NBA in 2021-22.

On June 21, Bleacher Report proposed a three-team trade involving the Lakers, Brooklyn Nets and Indiana Pacers. Westbrook would land in Indiana, Myles Turner and Malcolm Brogdon would end up in Brooklyn and Kyrie Irving and Seth Curry would team up with LeBron James and Anthony Davis in Los Angeles in the suggested trade by Bleacher Report.

Westbrook started 78 games for the Lakers in 2021-22. 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 nine-time All-Star has a player option worth $47.1 million for the 2022-23 season and he’s expected to pick it up.

Lakers Want Irving; Pacers Seriously Talking Brogdon, Turner Trades

According to a June 20 report from Shams Charania of The Athletic, conversations about Irving’s future have gone stagnant between him and the Nets. An impasse exists among the parties that clears the way for the seven-time All-Star to consider the open market and the Lakers are expected to be among the interested suitors if Irving leaves the Nets.

Charania also reported on June 20 that the Pacers are seriously engaged in trade talks for Brogdon and Turner, which is why Bleacher Report thought of the three-team trade involving Los Angeles, Brooklyn and Indiana.

According to Charania, Irving would have to pick up his 2022-23 player option and request a trade to the Lakers to reunite with James. Los Angeles can’t sign Irving as a free agent or acquire him via a sign-and-trade deal due to its cap situation.

“For the Lakers, the likely path to acquire Irving — and reunite him with LeBron James — would be Irving opting in to facilitate a trade, because the Lakers cannot realistically clear cap space to sign him themselves, and a sign-and-trade would trigger the hard cap, thus making acquiring Irving significantly more difficult,” Charania wrote. “If Irving would opt-in, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka would have to satisfy the collective bargaining agreement’s salary-matching rules, meaning if Irving’s $36.6 million was the only incoming salary, the Lakers could send anywhere from $29.3 million to $45.8 million to the Nets and/or a third team in a legal transaction.”

Irving has a June 29 deadline on his $36.5 million player option for the 2022-23 season. He already has a rapport with James since the two were teammates on the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2014-15 to 2016-17.

James and Irving played in three consecutive NBA Finals, winning the 2016 championship over the Golden State Warriors in seven games.

Irving & Curry Could Thrive with Lakers

Irving would be a better fit next to James and Davis than Westbrook was in 2021-22 since he can shoot from the perimeter. Kyrie is a career 39.3% shooter from beyond the arc, while Russ is at 30.5%.

James and Irving played in 183 regular-season games together on the Cavaliers. They went 132-51 in the regular season and 39-13 in the playoffs. James averaged 25.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.8 assists alongside Irving. Meanwhile, Irving put up 22.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game next to James.

Curry, the younger brother of Warriors superstar Stephen Curry, is one of the best 3-point shooters in NBA history. He’s third all-time in 3-point percentage (43.9%) and would be the perfect floor spacer next to James, Irving and Davis. Curry, 31, made 158 3-pointers in 2021-22.

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