The Los Angeles Lakers can’t do much right now with Russell Westbrook but it’s clear that there’s not much of a future between the two sides. There’s obviously tension building as Westbrook has been much worse than the team expected when they traded for him. The answer might be to have him come off the bench but it’s feasible to see him stirring up drama if the team tries to do that.
The Lakers need to figure out how to move on from him in the offseason. Westbrook does have a player option but there’s almost no way he’ll walk away from the $47 million that he’ll be owed. Los Angeles could buy him out or cut him and stretch out his contract. However, the least complicated option is simply to trade him. His expiring contract could be appealing to teams looking for ample cap space for 2023.
Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report believes the Lakers could revisit a trade with the Houston Rockets. In this scenario, Los Angeles gets John Wall and Eric Gordon for Talen Horton-Tucker, Westbrook, and a 2027 first-round pick:
No team is going to call Rob Pelinka’s office this summer begging for Westbrook, so moving him for another bad contract like Wall’s is likely their only option. Getting Gordon is what makes the trade worth doing, however, as the veteran wing is averaging 14.0 points and 2.9 assists while shooting 41.2 percent from three.
A core four of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Wall and Gordon is far better than what the Lakers are currently rolling out, especially with Westbrook gone.
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Would This Be a Good Trade for Lakers?
At this point, the Lakers have to do whatever they can to get off Westbrook. That will likely cost a future first-round pick. LeBron James is proving that he still has a lot left in the tank and the team would be making a huge mistake wasting his last few good years.
Wall wouldn’t exactly be a difference-maker but he’s a better defender than Westbrook and would be more willing to do whatever the team needs. If they need to just sit him or have him come off the bench, it wouldn’t lead to much drama. Gordon is still a good 3-point shooter and that’s always a welcome addition on a team with LeBron. Horton-Tucker hasn’t been nearly as good as the Lakers hoped he would be so they’d be wise to move off of him before his value diminishes even further.
All Isn’t Lost for Lakers
Right now, the Lakers are at their lowest point in years. The Westbrook trade will go down as one of the most disastrous in NBA history. The most frustrating thing is that many saw this coming but the Lakers went through with the trade.
However, this isn’t the end of the Lakers as a viable NBA team. They still have LeBron and Anthony Davis, and Los Angeles is one of the best free agent destinations in the NBA. The Lakers will be fine if they can fix this mess in the offseason.