Lakers Rival Considered Landing Spot for Russell Westbrook

Lakers star Russell Westbrook on October 28, 2022

Getty Lakers star Russell Westbrook on October 28, 2022

One NBA insider believes the Los Angeles Lakers can trade Russell Westbrook to an Eastern Conference rival.

In a January 5 article called “Bulls Trade Targets with 2023 NBA Trade Deadline a Month Away,” Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley wrote that the Chicago Bulls are a potential landing spot for Westbrook if they decide to blow up their core and enter a rebuild.

“Look, the blow-it-up option may not be the likeliest outcome for Chicago this trade season, but it can’t be ruled out, either. And if the Bulls do take that plunge, they can’t half-step into a rebuild. Rather, they should take the plunge head-first. That means not merely moving a veteran or two for a decent asset, but instead shipping out major contributors for prime assets,” Buckley wrote. “Now, if you’re thinking a 34-year-old Russell Westbrook hardly qualifies as such, you’re right—but he isn’t the true target. He’s merely the means to an end: that being the juicy 2027 and 2029 first-round picks the Lakers are allowed to trade. Pick up both of those picks—which won’t convey until long after LeBron James leaves Hollywood—and the Bulls could suddenly have two prime assets to help reshape their roster. Even if they don’t plan on staying down long enough to use those picks themselves, they could get them now and use them in a major trade down the line, once the rebuilding project proves it’s ready to accelerate.”

If the Bulls tear down their roster, they could be interested in Westbrook since the All-Star guard is on an expiring contract. The Lakers have been connected to DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic. Los Angeles could trade Westbrook and its unprotected first-round picks in 2027 and 2029 to Chicago.

The Lakers and Bulls Can Get Creative in Russell Westbrook Trade Talks

The Lakers and Bulls can get creative if they decide to pursue a Westbrook trade before the February 9 trade deadline. Here are a few ways Los Angeles can improve its roster under CBA rules around superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis:

  • The Lakers can trade Westbrook, Patrick Beverley and draft picks to the Bulls for DeRozan and Vucevic
  • The Lakers could make a pitch for LaVine and Vucevic for Westbrook and 1-2 future first-round picks as compensation
  • The Lakers can send Westbrook, Beverley and draft picks to the Bulls for LaVine and Vucevic
  • The Lakers can deal Westbrook, Beverley, Kendrick Nunn and their draft picks in 2027 and 2029 to the Bulls for LaVine and Vucevic

LaVine can’t be traded until January 15 since he signed a new contract with the Bulls in July. The two-time All-Star agreed to a five-year, $215.2 million deal. LaVine has the same agent as James and Davis, so he’s always been linked to the purple and gold.

The Lakers are interested in trading for Vucevic and DeRozan, according to a December 10 report from Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. DeRozan took part in meetings at James’ house during the summer of 2021 and thought he would sign with the Lakers, the team he grew up rooting for. However, the California native joined the Bulls after the Lakers traded for Westbrook from the Washington Wizards.

The Bulls Didn’t Want Russell Westbrook in December; Will Things Change?

Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reported in December that the Bulls weren’t interested in Westbrook. Things could change, however, if Chicago continues to struggle and decides to rebuild.

“So while the Lakers might be looking to make a big trade and have their eyes on the Bulls’ roster, the feeling isn’t mutual,” Cowley wrote. “According to a source, executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas has no interest in acquiring Russell Westbrook and his expiring contract, even if it means adding draft picks.”

Westbrook is averaging 14.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 7.7 assists this season for the Lakers. He’s shooting 40.6% from the field, 27.5% from beyond the arc and 67.2% from the free-throw line.

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