NBA Execs Sound off on Lakers’ ‘Damn-Near Impossible’ Trade Task

Rob Pelinka, Lakers

Getty Rob Pelinka, Lakers

I’d still be fearful in the playoffs of any team with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but people around the NBA seem to be taking the opportunity to delight in the Lakers’ current woes. The Lakers are 26-28, mired in ninth place in the West.

Said one league source, “Somebody had a great line. They said, ‘They built a terrific team for the 2014 Finals,’ or something like that. There’s no energy there.”

Russell Westbrook has had difficulty when on the floor with the starters, and coach Frank Vogel kept him pinned to the pine for all of OT when L.A. got past the Knicks Saturday.

“It’s obvious they’re trying to move Westbrook, which is damn-near impossible,” a league exec told “They know that roster’s just not working.”

Said another, “Russell plays hard and he’s always put up big numbers. But is he a winning player?”

A large part of the “damn near impossible” Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka has in trading Westbrook is the fact he’s carrying a $44.2 million salary number for this season and has a player option for $47 million next year.

Source: Nets ‘Hesitant’ to Give up on Big Three

On the surface, it would seem that if James Harden is seriously unhappy in Brooklyn, the Nets and Philadelphia should be able to get together on a Harden-Ben Simmons swap in some form.

Beyond the fact that Simmons doesn’t want to get on the court in Philly, the Sixers would have to like the scoring counterpoint for Joel Embiid that Harden offers.

And with Kevin Durant (when healthy) and Kyrie Irving (when allowed to play in jurisdictions without vaccine requirements), the Nets have the kind of scoring punch that could be helped by Simmons’ passing and not hurt so badly by his unwillingness to shoot from the outside.

According to a Brooklyn source, however, the club is hesitant to give up on its Big Three creation, considering all of them bought in to start. And trying to integrate Simmons on the fly could be difficult with a couple of months left in the regular season and Irving still unable to play at home.

“And what if Kyrie opts out of his final year?” the source said, pointing to Irving’s summer decision (one that Harden has, as well). “There hasn’t been any indication at all of that, but you have to at least consider all possibilities.”

In that scenario, with a Simmons trade made, the Nets would have Durant for four more years at $198.7 million and Ben for three more at $113.7 million. And a whole lot of questions.

As noted here before, Philly head of basketball operations Daryl Morey has been asking a huge return for Simmons, but things could get more reasonable if he sees a chance to reunite with Harden.

Absent that, expect the Sixers to keep swinging for the fences. For example, one exec told that Morey requested four (count ’em, 4) first round picks from a team that wasn’t in position to offer an impact player.

Movement Expected From Kings, Blazers at Deadline

Elsewhere, teams are again looking hard at acquiring Harrison Barnes from Sacramento. We’re told the Kings are willing to discuss everyone but Tyrese Haliburton.

“They want to move (Marvin) Bagley bad,” said a personnel man.

Up the coast in Portland, the Trail Blazers may not be done moving after sending out Norman Powell and Robert Covington in the deal with the Clippers.

When we were told that ownership had given interim general manager Joe Cronin the OK to make significant moves, the word was to first look at Powell and Covington being on the block. But one source said C.J. McCollum, second high-paid Blazer behind Damian Lillard, could also be traded.


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