The Los Angeles Lakers have been urged to trade a future Hall of Famer.
In a January 2 article called “The Player Every NBA Team Needs to Trade In 2023,” Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report wrote that the Lakers need to trade point guard Russell Westbrook.
“It’s long past time for the Los Angeles Lakers to end the Russell Westbrook era, even if that doesn’t mean the team wins the trade in a landslide,” Bailey wrote. “That seems to be what general manager Rob Pelinka is waiting for, and that deal just might not be out there. In the meantime, the bad fit between Westbrook and LeBron James continues to cost L.A. games and diminish its chances to make the playoffs. Right now, the Lakers have a point differential around that of a 31-win team when Westbrook is on the floor and one around that of a 38-win team when he’s off. That second number certainly won’t blow anyone away, but finishing around 40 wins might get L.A. into the play-in tournament. And if LeBron and Anthony Davis are healthy for win-or-go-home games (big ifs, for sure), you have to like the team’s chances to make the playoffs.”
Westbrook is in the final year of his contract. The 2016-17 MVP is averaging 14.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 7.8 assists this season while shooting 41.0% from the field, 27.9% from beyond the arc and 67.9% from the free-throw line.
Concerns Persist That Russell Westbrook Doesn’t Complement LeBron James
Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report reported on December 14 that concerns persist internally in Los Angeles that Westbrook doesn’t complement LeBron James. Westbrook’s inability to shoot from the perimeter makes him a poor fit alongside James and Anthony Davis.
“But concerns persist internally that Westbrook doesn’t complement LeBron James and that the mix of stars may not work in the postseason when rotations shorten. The Lakers also have guards Patrick Beverley and Kendrick Nunn (all three expiring contracts) as trade pieces for a smaller deal—or with Westbrook in a potential blockbuster,” Pincus wrote. “The answer will depend on what other teams offer. The Lakers will give more if the return provides the team with a credible chance to flourish in the playoffs. Potential trade partners wouldn’t necessarily desire Westbrook, Beverley or Nunn for what they bring to the court. Rather, they would be the necessary salaries needed to take on in order to nab the Lakers’ distant firsts (2027 and 2029), which have value in part because they’re long after James and Davis are projected to be with the franchise.”
Westbrook, 34, has a plus-minus of -53 this season. He’s seventh in the NBA in turnovers and has the sixth-worst true shooting percentage in the league.
Lakers May Ride Out Season With Current Roster
Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times reported on December 28 that the Lakers may not make a trade this season. Los Angeles is only 15-21 despite James and Davis putting up spectacular numbers.
“The Lakers’ means for improving their roster this season are limited, rules prohibiting them from trading first-round picks other than the ones they have in 2027 and 2029 because of the steep price they paid for Davis,” Woike reported. “Internally, sources said, there’s been serious consideration given to riding out the season without making a major deal if they can’t find one that would make the team a realistic contender.”
The NBA trade deadline is February 9. Westbrook is making $47.1 million this season.