Proposed Trade Reunites Lakers With Ex-Starter, Adds Former Top-5 Pick

Russell Westbrook Trade

Getty The L.A. Lakers may have a decision to make with Russell Westbrook.

There are plenty of ideas for how the Los Angeles Lakers could trade Russell Westbrook but very few teams appear willing to take on the star’s $44 million salary. Hoops Hype’s Yossi Gozlan threw out a few trade ideas including an intriguing potential deal with the Pelicans.

As the Pelicans look to provide Zion Williamson with more help once he returns to the floor, Westbrook could shoulder some of the offensive load in New Orleans. The hypothetical trade would reunite the Lakers with former key player Josh Hart while also adding former top-five pick Jonas Valanciuas, the No. 5 selection in the 2011 NBA draft.

“What about teams hovering around .500 hoping to secure a play-in spot?” Gozlan noted. “Westbrook is a floor raiser and he showed that in Washington last season as the Wizards wouldn’t have made it to the play-in tournament without him. The New Orleans Pelicans, for example, could use Westbrook but any trade right now would likely cost them three of Jonas Valanciunas, Josh Hart, Devonte’ Graham, Tomas Satoransky just to match salaries.”

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Hart Started 45 Games for the Lakers During His 2 Seasons in L.A.

Hart spent his first two NBA seasons with the Lakers and started 45 games during his short L.A. stint before being traded to the Pelicans as part of the Anthony Davis deal. The swingman averaged 7.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists and .9 steals while shooting 36.1% from long range with the Lakers. Hart is averaging 12.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists while shooting 34.9% from the three-point line as a starter with the Pelicans this season.

Valanciunas would be the centerpiece of the proposal and has been a double-double machine. The big man is averaging 18.7 points, 11.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists and .9 blocks while shooting 45.1% from behind the arc. Valanciunas is on pace to average a double-double for the third straight season.

The Lakers Have Been ‘Active in the Trade Market’: Report

The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported the Lakers “have been active in the trade market.” Weeks after the report, we saw the early results of these talks as the Lakers moved on from Rajon Rondo. It remains to be seen if the Lakers will be able to pull off a blockbuster deal involving Westbrook prior to February’s trade deadline.

“I spoke to LeBron’s agent Rich Paul and he said that talk [trade rumors] is in itself is just ridiculous and it’s totally false,” Charania noted on The Pat McAfee Show on December 22. “LeBron James isn’t leaving the Lakers, he’s gonna be on the Lakers. Now the question is how can the Lakers get better? This is their team. This is the hand that they’ve been dealt. They made that trade for Russell Westbrook in the summer and it hasn’t paid dividends. This team doesn’t look like it has the young legs that they need to have and that’s why I’ve heard that they have been active in the trade market.

“When you look at a guy like Ben Simmons, they’d love to get their hands on a guy like him [or] Jerami Grant. Those are the types of guys that they need on this team. Young 6’9″, 6’10” athletic wings [that] can handle the ball, can score, can pass. They need guys like that. They don’t have enough of them that have the youth, in their prime, type of experience. But no, LeBron James isn’t going anywhere. I spoke to Rich Paul, his agent, he said that stuff is just totally false. So, I’m here to set the record straight.”

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