If the Los Angeles Lakers were to decide on making a trade, Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus believes he has the ideal solution to help immediately put them back into contention for an NBA Championship.
Pincus’ proposed trade looks like this:
Lakers Get: Kyrie Irving, Bojan Bogdanovic, Alec Burks, and Nerlens Noel
Pistons & Nets decide on who gets what from Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverley, Kendrick Nunn, the Lakers’ 2027 first-round draft pick, and their 2029 first-round draft pick.
However, Pincus does note that this trade cannot happen before December 15, as that is when recently acquired free agents are eligible to be traded by their current teams.
“Outside of L.A., the “who gets what” is subjective based on what the Nets prioritize most. They could swap out Irving for Westbrook or take on the Lakers’ lower-priced role players for significant luxury tax savings.
The more minor details of a deal, including a required touch between the Nets and Pistons, would depend on Westbrook’s destination. That might be a second-round pick or the rights to a previously drafted player. If the Nets take Westbrook, young center Day’Ron Sharpe could go to Detroit,” Pincus explained when discussing how the Brooklyn Nets and Detroit Pistons would potentially negotiate on the assets they get in return.
If the Lakers were able to make this proposed trade become a reality, they would instantly be viewed as one of the best teams in the league. In Kyrie Irving, Los Angeles’ would get a new All-Star guard who has proven capable of playing alongside LeBron James in the past, while also improving their perimeter shooting with Bogdanovic and Burks – although their defense might regress slightly with the loss of Beverley.
Lakers Could Re-Sign Westbrook in Free Agency
Unfortunately for the Lakers, Pincus’ trade idea is just that, an idea. As such, the Lakers will continue to work with the players already at their disposal, while they wait for Rob Pelinka and the rest of the front office to make a decision on how they want to approach the trade market before the February trade deadline.
However, according to a Western Conference Executive, who recently spoke with Heavy on Sports’ Sean Deveney under the condition of anonymity, should Russell Westbrook remain on the Lakers roster for the remainder of his current contract, there’s a chance that Los Angeles could look to extend his stay with the team, should he agree to take a significant pay cut once he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
“No one likes to admit a mistake. Look, they had chances to just dump the guy if they wanted to, but if they did that, if it was an addition-by-subtraction thing, they would be saying, ‘Yeah we really messed up.’ They gave up (Kyle) Kuzma and KCP (Kentavious Caldwell-Pope) for the guy, and you see how much they miss guys who can play their roles, especially KCP. He is exactly what they need. So they have been gun-shy about getting rid of Westbrook because it’s egg on their face if they do.
So it is not crazy that they could sign him, at a much lower number than what he has this year. He is not going to have a market next year, not with all that has gone on in the past two seasons. Can he get a taxpayer midlevel (expected to be $7 million), even? What team is going to give him that right now? So if he stays in L.A. for that kind of contract, yeah that could happen, but it would have to be a very lowball deal,” The executive said.
Since moving to a bench role with the Lakers, Westbrook has begun to produce at a high level, providing his team with 16.8 points, five rebounds, and 8.6 assists per game while shooting 43.6% from the field and 39.6% from deep.
Other Teams Starting to Show Interest in Westbrook
Due to Westbrook’s sudden improvements, his value around the league is beginning to trend upwards, and according to Bleacher Reports’ Chris Haynes, other teams around the NBA have begun to check in on his availability and the Lakers’ asking price.
“With Russell Westbrook thriving in his new role as a sixth man, the Lakers are now receiving calls about his availability, sources say, but talks are not at a serious stage,” Haynes wrote.
If the Lakers do decide to cut ties with the 33-year-old former MVP, then exploring a potential deal similar to the one Pincus has outlined in his November 22 article is arguably their best course of action – assuming other teams are receptive to such a deal, of course.