It’s widely accepted that if the Los Angeles Lakers are going to make a significant splash in the trade market, they will need to part ways with one or both of their 2027 and 2029 first-round draft picks.
However, according to a Western Conference executive who spoke with Heavy On Sports’ Sean Deveney under the condition of anonymity, the Lakers are unlikely to trade away their future in order to improve the current iteration of their roster – a move which Jeanie Buss supports.
“They have come this far without trading the two picks (in 2027 and 2029) away, and it is going to be very hard to move Westbrook without putting one of those picks into the deal. You’ve got a lot of the organization saying, ‘We should trade picks and win now,’ but some in the organization are saying, ‘Do not sell out the future.’ And Jeanie Buss is with the second group, and that is what matters most,” The executive said
Unfortunately for Los Angeles, if they decide to keep hold of their future draft assets, the options leading up to the February 9 trade deadline will be severely limited and could cost them a chance to make the playoffs this season and appease LeBron James.
Lakers Could Still Trade Russell Westbrook
Trading away Russell Westbrook has been a hot topic in Lakerland since the start of the season. However, in order to maximize your return on Westbrook’s expiring deal, a draft pick would need to be attached to any deal. Luckily, the Lakers do have some other options, though.
During Deveney’s discussion with the Western Conference executive, some additional trade options for Westbrook were discussed, with the onus being on taking back longer-term contracts to sweeten any potential deal.
“Russ has played well for them, and they’re looking for a way to make a deal without giving up picks, which is going to involve taking on a longer contract, like a Tim Hardaway Jr. from Dallas or someone like that. They have talked about Evan Fournier and Derrick Rose, too, which might be as good a deal as they’re going to get,” The executive said.
Westbrook has been revitalized since accepting a sixth-man role off the bench this season and is currently averaging 15.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 7.8 assists on 42.1% shooting from the field and 29.2% from deep in his 41 games so far this season.
LeBron James Growing Frustrated With Lack Of Continuity
When speaking to the media following the Lakers’ January 12 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, LeBron James shared his frustration at the lack of lineup continuity this season, which is in part due to the number of injuries the Lakers are currently dealing with.
“The one consistent thing that we have is a billion different lineups…At the end of the day, teams have closing lineups. And we got so many guys that are in and out of the lineup, and right now, we got a lot of guys that are banged up. So, it’s almost like, who is in a good rhythm that night is going to be probably on the floor along with myself and Russ,” LeBron said.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, Westbrook is one of their most consistent players, both in terms of production and health. As such, it may make more sense for them to keep hold of him throughout the final few months of his contract rather than trade him away for longer-term deals.
Luckily, with the February 9 trade deadline approaching fast, we won’t have to wait long to see which avenue the Lakers decide to take.