16 games into the season and it’s clear that Russell Westbrook isn’t the Los Angeles Lakers‘ biggest issue. Since getting moved to the bench, he’s played quite well. The bigger issue facing the team is that they don’t have 3-point shooters. Austin Reaves is the only player on the team shooting over five shots a game who is making 40.0% of his threes.
Westbrook has proven that he can bring value as a player off the bench. That could pique the interest of some teams around the NBA. With the former MVP playing well, the Lakers have a bit more leverage in a possible trade. They aren’t going to get a huge haul for him but they could move him to find some shooting.
If Westbrook is traded, there’s still a likelihood that he is bought out. Heading into the season, it looked like a buyout could spell the end of his NBA career but that may not be the case anymore. According to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, there are many around the NBA who can see an Eastern Conference contender signing Westbrook.
“If Westbrook is bought out, the buzz around the league has him signing with the Miami Heat,” Pincus wrote.
Heat Could Make Sense for Westbrook
Similar to the Lakers, the Heat have been very disappointing this season. They are 7-11 and are the 12th seed in the Eastern Conference. Despite the rough start, they have the pieces to turn things around and contend. Just last season, they were a game away from reaching the NBA Finals.
Miami could use some scoring help. Jimmy Butler is the only player on the team averaging over 20 points a game with 20.9. Westbrook is averaging 15.8 points a game off the bench. He could bring similar numbers to the Heat. The team clearly needs a spark and Westbrook is a player who can provide one. It remains to be seen if he’d also be willing to come off the bench for his next team. He might prefer to go to a bad team and rack up some points where he can be the top guy. That said, the Heat would have to be somewhat appealing to him as it would provide him a chance to be a key role player on a championship contender.
Some in NBA Don’t Think Westbrook Gets Moved
The Lakers have been trying to trade Westbrook dating back to last year. Now that they’ve found a role for him, they may be more inclined to keep him around. The team has won three of its last four games and could be feeling better about its chances.
The best trade on the table for the Lakers involved Westbrook would involve them sending him to the Indiana Pacers for Myles Turner and Buddy Hield. While those two would help fill two of the team’s biggest needs, some executives believe that the Lakers still wouldn’t be contenders with those two on the roster, which could lead to them riding things out with Westbrook.
“While some combination of Rob Pelinka, Myles Turner, and Buddy Hield has been trending topics on Twitter after each Lakers loss, many rival executives believe acquiring both players won’t make Los Angeles a contender in the West,” HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto wrote. “Some executives believe the Lakers will stand pat and ride out the Westbrook experiment if he continues to produce off the bench.”