The clock is ticking on the Los Angeles Lakers to find a trade partner for Russell Westbrook before the NBA season begins. This is especially true with LeBron James eligible to sign a contract extension as the Lakers attempt to prove the viability of the team’s roster to the superstar.
Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz suggested what he described as five “brutal” trade proposals that the Lakers need to consider to move Westbrook. There has been plenty of speculation about the Pacers, Nets and Knicks acquiring Westbrook. but Swartz offers a few new ideas for general manager Rob Pelinka to ponder.
One intriguing deal has the Lakers acquiring Tim Hardaway Jr., Davis Bertans and Reggie Bullock in exchange for Westbrook, Austin Reaves and two unprotected first-round picks (2027, 2029). The brutal part is Bertans’ $80 million contract that runs through the 2024-25 season.
“This is a nice influx of talent for the Lakers, even if Bertans’ contract (three years, $49 million with an early termination option) is pretty brutal,” Swartz wrote on August 4, 2022. “Hardaway is a 6’5″ shooting guard who’s averaged 15.7 points and shot 38.1 percent from three over his past three seasons. Bullock is the perfect 3-and-D wing this Lakers team desperately needs, and Bertans can be one of the NBA’s best floor-spacers when healthy. Giving up Reaves and two first-round picks stings, but these are ideal-fitting pieces for L.A. to plug in.”
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Would the Lakers Be Willing to Take Bertans’ $80 Million Contract?
Westbrook’s $47 million salary is less than ideal but the good news for the Lakers is the star guard only has one year remaining on his contract. This potential deal has a number of warning signs for the Lakers front office. Los Angeles would be taking on significantly more future money for players that may not help make the Lakers become a contender this season.
Bertans still has three seasons remaining on his five-year, $80 million contract. This is a lot of money for a player who averaged just 5.6 points and 2.1 rebounds while shooting 33.5% from long range last season. It was admittedly a down year for the forward who is a career 39.8% three-point shooter, and the Lakers would be hoping to maximize his talent next to James as well as Anthony Davis.
The Case for Hardaway on the Lakers
Hardaway is a far more appealing part of this trade for the Lakers as it gives the team another playmaker who can create his own shot. The veteran wing has consistently been one of the Mavericks’ top scorers. Hardaway averaged 14.2 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists while shooting 33.6% from long range during the 2021-22 season.
Like Bertans, Hardaway’s four-year, $75 million contract is on the high side, and the deal goes through the 2024-25 season. The Lakers would still be getting a strong level of production that accompanies Hardaway’s $19.6 million salary.
Despite Hardaway’s upside, the future money the Lakers would be taking on in this deal does indeed make it “brutal.” This factor combined with Los Angeles also giving up two future first-round picks means it is a deal the Lakers must decline to make.