NBA Executive Says Thunder Are Team to ‘Keep an Eye on’ in Westbrook Trade

rob pelinka

Getty Los Angeles Lakers GM Rob Pelinka faces a difficult decision.

Despite the Los Angeles Lakers‘ nightmare season, they still have a real shot at the playoffs. The play-in tournament could save the team but it’s all a moot point in the end. Even if the team somehow wins the necessary play-in games to earn a playoff spot, they aren’t about to go on a deep playoff run.

The Russell Westbrook trade in the offseason has been an unmitigated disaster. The Lakers went from title contenders held back by injuries to a below-average NBA team quicker than anybody could’ve foreseen. This offseason, Los Angeles has no choice to move on from Westbrook no matter what it takes. It’s not going to be easy but there could be one team that could help the Lakers out. An Eastern Conference executive told’s Sean Deveney that the Oklahoma City Thunder could be open to a trade surrounding former No. 3 overall draft pick Derrick Favors but the Lakers are going to have to pay:

Keep an eye on Oklahoma City when it comes to Russ. There is a lot of loyalty there that goes both ways and the feeling is, this situation is as bad for Russ as it is for the Lakers. So the Thunder could offer a lifeline to get him out of L.A. and let him start over and sort of finish his career more on his own terms. The Thunder have obviously a lot of flexibility, a lot of room to maneuver with something like that. They could send back a Derrick Favors or someone like that. But Sam Presti is not in the charity business, he will ask for both of the picks the Lakers have to offer, that 2027 pick and that 2029 pick. It could work but I can’t see the Lakers giving up both picks. If the Thunder were willing to take back one, there might be something there. That opens up a massive trade exception for the Lakers, too, which they could use to absorb someone else.

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Insider Believes Thunder Make Sense for Westbrook

The Thunder are still in the process of rebuilding the team. They will have plenty of cap space to take on Westbrook’s contract if the Lakers can make it worth their time. Deveney believes that Oklahoma City’s appreciation for the former MVP could play a factor.

“The team that probably makes the most sense and the one thing that maybe could work out if the Lakers were willing to attach at least one first-round pick, they have that 2027 one that became a topic of discussion at the trade deadline, the one thing I have heard is Oklahoma City could take Russell Westbrook back into cap space because, believe it or not, they will have enough cap space much like they did with Kemba Walker last year,” Deveney said. “At that point, they could either release him or let him play out a year in Oklahoma City, just because obviously he did a lot for that team and that team has a big appreciation for him.”

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Should Lakers Give up Picks to Get off Westbrook’s Contract?

Westbrook is a nine-time All-Star and former MVP. He’s one of only two players to average a triple-double in a season and did it just a season ago. The fact that the Lakers will have to give up valuable draft picks just to get off his contract would’ve been unthinkable a couple of seasons ago. However, that’s where things are now.

Westbrook has absolutely tanked his value across the NBA this season. Perhaps the Lakers can con a team into thinking he still has value like the Washington Wizards did to them last year. That’s highly unlikely. If the Lakers are serious about moving on from Westbrook, they’re going to have to pay up in the form of at least one first-round draft pick.

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