Lakers Urged to Target $141 Million Duo in Russell Westbrook Trade

LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles Lakers

Getty LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles Lakers

Assuming that the Los Angeles Lakers decide to move on from their pursuit of Kyrie Irving, but still wish to trade Russell Westbrook, they will need to lower their expectations of what they want in return.

Put bluntly, Irving is Los Angeles’ only shot at getting a superstar return for Westbrook, and with that in mind, an NBA source was far more pragmatic when discussing potential frameworks for a Westbrook deal with Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus for a July 28 article.

“I’d be willing to trade him for multiple role players and put one of the picks on the table. If you want both picks, it has to be for something more exciting than just a couple of rotation guys who probably don’t move the needle for title contention. What about [the Utah Jazz] for Mike Conley and Bojan [Bogdanovic]? Send Westbrook and one of the picks. They’re useful and potentially cheaper to get because of slightly negative-value contracts,” The source told Pincus for his column.

This type of framework makes sense, as the Lakers would get back a defensive-minded guard who is known for being a consummate professional, and a sharpshooting wing to help improve the spacing around LeBron James and Anthony Davis – all while removing the issue of Westbrook’s deteriorating relationship with his teammates and the fanbase.

Bojan Bogdanovic Can Help the Lakers

Bogdanovic is a career 39.2% shooter, on reasonable volume (5.2 attempts per game), meaning he instantly provides his team with some shooting gravity, forcing defenders into tough decisions when they need to help off him.

Furthermore, Bogdanovic is adept at knocking down his long-range attempts from all over the perimeter, averaging 41% from the corners and 37% from non-corner threes last season, making him one of the most reliable sharpshooters in the NBA that wasn’t an All-Star.

Unlike most sharpshooters, Bogdanovic can also give you some interior scoring, as he often attacks close-outs by putting the ball on the floor. Last season, the six-foot-seven wing converted 66% of his attempts at the rim and drained 42% of his mid-range looks. Put simply, the Mostar native is a walking bucket, that is designed to accentuate the talents of powerhouses such as LeBron.

Longer Term Money

The downside with the proposed idea of acquiring Conley and Bogdanovic is that the Lakers would be taking back longer-term money. Mike Conley’s contract has two years remaining on it, although his final year is only partially guaranteed for the value of $14.3 million.

Sure, Bogdanovic is entering the final year of his deal, so you can either re-sign him at a lower rate, or let him walk next summer, but given how the Lakers will probably covet Irving again next summer when he is a free agent, Conley’s deal could prove to be problematic.

Of course, Los Angeles could always waive and stretch Conley’s final year, but that would go against the rebuilding job they’re trying to put in place, or they could look to trade him for a minimal return.

Still, if the Lakers truly want to move on from Westbrook this summer, a return of Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic would certainly be a good place to start, as it would deepen their rotation and solve two of their biggest roster issues heading into the new season.

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