The Los Angeles Lakers could be making a big splash sooner rather than later as the team is “increasingly likely” to make a trade with the Washington Wizards for Russell Westbrook, per Action Network’s Matt Moore. The news comes days after ESPN’s Marc Spears reported the two teams held preliminary discussions about a blockbuster trade.
“The Wizards, multiple sources have said, are aligning toward a full rebuild should Beal ask out,” Moore detailed. “It’s not a coincidence that Bleacher Report reported that there have been preliminary talks between the Lakers and Wizards about a deal for Russell Westbrook, a deal that league sources said was increasingly likely as of Sunday night.
“(As a reminder, these things are fluid. Deals fall apart all the time at the goal line and every single deal that gets leaked is “almost done” which almost never turns out to be true. Deals are done when they’re actually reported as done.)”
A Beal Trade Request Could Pave Way for Lakers to Land Westbrook
The Wizards have two potential paths to choose between this offseason after making the play-in tournament last season. Washington could potentially look to add more complementary pieces around Bradley Beal along with Westbrook in an attempt to compete in the Eastern Conference.
A Beal trade request could signal a complete rebuild for the Wizards. It is why Westbrook’s future is likely tied to what Beal opts to do this offseason as Spears detailed on The Max Kellerman Show.
“You know, I’ve been told that the Wizards and the Lakers have, I wouldn’t call them like close conversations,” Spears explained. “In the NBA world, there’s a lot of conversations, so let’s not act like this is on the one-yard line, but that Russ has been mentioned in regards to probably getting Schroder in a sign-and-trade. Also, getting Kyle Kuzma who I think all Lakers fans expect him to be out. Talen Horton-Tucker would certainly be a painful loss, too.
“But you got to give something to get something, and if the Wizards are doing that move my guess is that Beal is on his way out, too. Because I think the only way Russell Westbrook, from what I hear, I’m not speaking for him, but from what I’ve been told, the only way that Russ would want to move is if Bradley Beal wants to go as well.”
The Lakers Could Find It Challenging to Match Westbrook’s $44.2 Million Salary
With as many as 10 players potentially hitting free agency, the Lakers have very few options to offer the Wizards in a potential trade. The Lakers will likely need some help from their own free agents to make a deal for Westbrook happen. Dennis Schroder and Talen Horton-Tucker could be potential sign-and-trade pieces, but both players would need to cooperate for a deal to happen.
Horton-Tucker’s restricted free agent status gives him less flexibility than Schroder who is unrestricted. Montrezl Harrell is another player to watch as he could be moved via trade if the big man does not exercise his player option to become a free agent. The one consistent name involved in any potential Lakers deal is Kyle Kuzma who ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported has been offered to nearly every NBA team.
The Lakers would be taking on significant salary by acquiring Westbrook in a deal. The nine-time All-Star still has two seasons remaining on a five-year, $206.79 million contract. Los Angeles is clearly in win-now mode as the Lakers look to secure another championship during LeBron James’ prime window.
Without cap space, the Lakers will need to pull off a trade to acquire a third star to pair next to James and Anthony Davis. Given his sizable salary, it is unclear what Westbrook’s trade market would be which could give the Lakers a prime opportunity to land the point guard. James’ relationship with Westbrook has been well-documented and his addition would take offensive pressure off the two Lakers stars heading into the 2021-22 season.