Lakers Called Out for Not Trading Russell Westbrook for Buddy Hield & Myles Turner

Russell Westbrook

Getty Russell Westbrook

The Los Angeles Lakers have been called out for not trading Russell Westbrook for a $94 million guard and an $80 million center.

In a February 23 column called “Decisions the Lakers Should Already Regret from the Trade Deadline,” Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley wrote that the Lakers should regret not trading Westbrook to the Indiana Pacers for Buddy Hield and Myles Turner.

“Remember the oft-discussed deal-that-wasn’t between the Lakers and Indiana Pacers last summer? The one that would have sent Westbrook and the two first-round picks to Indy for Myles Turner and Buddy Hield? Are we sure the Lakers were wise for waiting to do these deals instead? Sure, they only had to give up one first (and even managed to put top-four protection on it—the best move of L.A.’s trade season), but the lower trade cost also meant a lesser trade return,” Buckley wrote. “Turner’s combination of shot-blocking and three-point shooting packs a heavier two-way punch than anything the Lakers landed at the deadline. Hield might be the best shooter in the league not named Stephen Curry; L.A. found some lasers, but it could have done better on that front, too.”

The Lakers and Pacers discussed a Westbrook-Hield-Turner trade several times. According to an October 3 report from Jovan Buha, Sam Amick and Shams Charania of The Athletic, Los Angeles almost sent Westbrook and unprotected first-round picks in 2027 and 2029 to Indiana for Turner and Hield in October before general manager Rob Pelinka determined that giving up two future draft picks was too steep of a price to pay.

The Lakers wound up trading Westbrook to the Utah Jazz at the trade deadline in a three-team deal involving the Minnesota Timberwolves. Los Angeles acquired Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt from the Jazz and D’Angelo Russell from the Timberwolves.

It Was Not Universally Believed Myles Turner & Buddy Hield Moved the Needle to Title Contention

Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report reported on November 10 that it was not “universally believed internally” within the Lakers organization that a trade for Turner and Hield moved the needle to title contention.

“It is not universally believed internally that a trade for Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner and sharpshooter Buddy Hield would move the needle to title contention, sources say,” Haynes reported.

Hield signed a four-year, $94 million deal with the Sacramento Kings in October 2019. He’s averaging 17.5 points this season while shooting 42.5% from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Turner signed a two-year, $58 million extension with the Pacers in January as part of a renegotiation-and-extend. The big man is averaging 18.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 2.3 blocks in 2022-23.

1 Bleacher Report Writer Thinks the Lakers Will Make the Playoffs

In a February 20 story called “Bold Predictions for the Rest of the 2022-23 NBA Season,” Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz wrote that the new-look Lakers would make the playoffs. The purple and gold revamped their roster at the trade deadline, parting ways with Westbrook, Patrick Beverley, Thomas Bryant, Damian Jones and Juan Toscano-Anderson. The Lakers acquired Russell, Beasley, Vanderbilt, Mo Bamba and Davon Reed.

“Los Angeles is just two games out of the play-in tournament, needing to leapfrog both the Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz and at least one of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans,” Swartz wrote. “From there, the Lakers would need to win twice as a No. 9 or 10 seed, or just once as the No. 7 or 8 seed, to officially get in. While the pre-deadline Lakers may not have had a chance, this team is far different. We saw this in a pre-All-Star break 120-102 win over the New Orleans Pelicans, one where newcomers like D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt were already in the starting lineup. While the defense looked stout, perhaps the best sign for Los Angeles was that James was needed for just 29 total minutes and didn’t even have a great night (21 total points, 0-of-5 from three, four turnovers).

“With so much help now surrounding James and Anthony Davis, both superstars can save some energy for the play-in tournament, one where they’d be one of the most talented teams to ever take part. The Lakers will make the play-in tournament, win and eventually reach the playoffs.”

The Lakers are 28-32 on the season. They are 1.5 games out of a spot in the play-in tournament.

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