The Los Angeles Lakers continue to be linked to a potential trade for former All-Star John Wall, but it appears the team is riding with Russell Westbrook for the time being. According to NBA insider Marc Stein, the Lakers are “determined to stick with Westbrook” for the rest of the season.
Stein also added that the Lakers are not willing to include their 2027 first-round pick in a Wall deal, a potential sticking point for the Rockets.
“A trade with the Houston Rockets to ship out Russell Westbrook is on the proverbial table for the Los Angeles Lakers,” Stein detailed on January 26. “The Lakers, though, appear determined to stick with Westbrook through at least the rest of the season — which means holding onto their 2027 first-round draft pick for other potential trade opportunities.
“League sources say that the Lakers, presented with an unexpected pathway to abort their Westbrook experiment by trading the NBA’s 2017 Most Valuable Player back to the Rockets in exchange for former All-Star John Wall, are unwilling to attach the 2027 first-rounder to make the deal happen.
“As reported here Friday, Houston’s interest in such a trade is dependent on the Lakers’ consenting to ensure that the deal is ‘incentivized’ by packaging the draft pick with Westbrook in exchange for Wall.”
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The Lakers Have ‘No Plan B’ for Westbrook
Stein’s update comes on the heels of ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne’s feature detailing the Lakers’ behind-the-scenes workings with Westbrook. Shelburne cited a Lakers source who admitted “there is no plan b” when it comes to trading Westbrook this season.
“It’s not like [Westbrook’s] a tradable player where if it’s not working out you just move on; everybody in the NBA knows that,” the team source told Shelburne. “So it’s got to work. This is the only option. There is no Plan B for this season.”
The Lakers Want to Avoid Having Bad Optics in a Possible Westbrook Deal
As Heavy previously outlined with the Wall-for-Westbrook rumor, the Lakers including their 2027 first-round pick is risky for several reasons. LeBron James and Anthony Davis could both no longer be on the roster by the time this pick is traded, giving the selection lottery potential.
There is also the reality that Wall may not even be an upgrade for the Lakers this season. Including this future draft pick in a deal is the equivalent of the Lakers signing up for an adjusted rate mortgage and the new house has little chance of getting Los Angeles back into the gated NBA championship neighborhood.
Stein reported that the reason the Lakers are balking at the Wall trade offer could be even more shallow than that. The Lakers want to avoid the bad optics of having to include a draft pick to trade Westbrook just months after making the blockbuster deal with the Wizards.
“Yet there are also major optics concerns for the Lakers,” Stein added. “Team officials, sources say, do not want to pay a premium to move on from Westbrook so soon after the Lakers gave up so much to get the Los Angeles native. Remember: They had to send Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and the No. 22 pick in last July’s draft to Washington after James and Davis encouraged the Lakers’ front office to go all-in for Westbrook rather than proceed with GM Rob Pelinka’s plans to trade for Sacramento’s Buddy Hield.”