Proposed Blockbuster Trade Sends Lakers a $50 Million Former No. 1 Pick

rob pelinka

Getty Rob Pelinka of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Los Angeles Lakers appear to have limited options if they want to trade Russell Westbrook. Heavy Sports insider Sean Deveney spoke with a Western Conference executive who views the Magic as a potential landing spot for Westbrook.

A Lakers-Magic deal would likely need to be a three- to four-team trade for the salary cap logistics to work. The Magic could offer the Lakers “some combination of Terrence Ross, [Markelle] Fultz, Mo Bamba and Gary Harris.”

“They’d have to get more teams involved, there would be a lot to sort out on that Lakers roster,” the exec noted. “But you could have some combination of Terrence Ross, [Markelle] Fultz, Mo Bamba, Gary Harris – it’s tricky because you have to deal with the contracts, a guy like Harris or Bamba is not guaranteed next year.

“The Lakers really want to protect their cap space, they have some focus on the free-agent market next summer and Fultz has another year, there’s the Bamba option, and so on. But Orlando has to be wondering about having [Victor] Wembanyama and Paolo [Banchero] in the frontcourt together.”

Would the Magic Have an Interest in Westbrook?

From the Lakers perspective, there are plenty of reasons why Los Angeles would be intrigued by a potential Orlando deal. Los Angeles would add some much-needed shooting with Ross and Bamba, two players who have been linked to the Lakers consistently in trade rumors.

The bigger question is why the Magic would have an interest in acquiring Westbrook. The Lakers would likely need to include their two future first-round picks (2027, 2029) to entice Orlando. The Magic already have a void of long-range shooting, and dealing two of their top three-point shooters (Ross, Bamba) would be less than ideal. This is especially heightened given Westbrook is a career 30.4% shooter from behind the arc.

The only motivation for the Magic to explore a potential deal would be to add future draft picks and increase their chances to land Wembanyama in the 2023 NBA draft by moving talent off their roster. Westbrook is a less than ideal fit in Orlando with Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs already on the roster.

Fultz Has a 3-Year, $50 Million Contract

Fultz is still recovering from a fractured big left toe, and Orlando has not announce when the point guard will make his 2022-23 season debut. The former No. 1 pick is on a reasonable three-year, $50 million contract that runs through the 2023-24 season and has a $16.5 million salary for 2022-23.

Fultz may never live up to the lofty expectations that came with being the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA draft. That said, Fultz has turned into a solid NBA point guard since being traded to Orlando in 2019. Fultz is averaging 11.9 points, 5.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals during his previous three seasons with the Magic. The veteran continues to struggle shooting from long range as a career 26.2% three-point shooter.

As for Westbrook, the former All-Star has been more of an asset to the Lakers since moving to the bench. This solution is likely temporary as Westbrook trade talks are expected to heat up closer to the deadline on February 9, 2023. Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus noted that many around the league expect the Lakers to eventually strike a deal with the Pacers.

“Several executives and agents around the league believe the Lakers will eventually cave, probably for the Pacers deal,” Pincus wrote on November 1. “However, new trade partners could surface as other teams plummet throughout the year (either through injury or commitment to the Victor Wembanyama lottery). Other candidates could include the San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz or Charlotte Hornets. That list could grow into December and January as recently signed free agents become trade eligible.”

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