Proposed Trade Package Sends Lakers 4-Time All-Star, Says Ex-NBA Exec

Rob Pelinka, Lakers

Getty Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka faces some difficult decisions as the NBA trade deadline approaches.

There is one more NBA team who could be in on the Los Angeles Lakers’ attempt to trade Russell Westbrook. Former NBA executive turned ESPN analyst Bobby Marks believes the Knicks would be a perfect landing spot for Westbrook. During the January 28 edition of The Lowe Post podcast, Marks threw out a Knicks trade package for Westbrook centered around Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier.

“I’d call the Lakers for Russell Westbrook,” Marks explained. “…I’m offering Kemba Walker, [Alec] Burks and [Evan] Fournier for Russell Westbrook and a 2027 lottery-protected first from the Lakers. That’s the trade I’m offering.”

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Marks on Westbrook’s Trade Value: ‘Of All the Flaws of Russell Westbrook, That Guy, He Competes’

Walker has had a less than ideal start to his time with the Knicks. The four-time All-Star is averaging 12.9 points, 3.5 assists and 3.3 rebounds while shooting 37.9% from long range in 26.7 minutes per contest. Walker has had a difficult time finding favor with Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau.

The veteran guard’s All-Star days are likely behind him, but Marks’ trade package suggestion is intriguing given the number of quality players it sends back to Los Angeles. Fournier is a capable role player who is a three-point shooting threat. The Knicks guard is averaging 13.6 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists while shooting 39% from behind the arc during the 2021-22 season. Marks explained why the Knicks might be willing to take on Westbrook’s $91 million over the next two seasons.

“I’m just thinking, what I’m looking at from New York is, does Russell Westbrook make $47 million next year? Yes,” Marks added. “It’s different than the situation in Los Angeles where you have like six guys and you’re signing minimums. You got all these young kids already there. You got five or six under contract next year. You got [Julius] Randle there. You’re not a tax team.

“Hey, of all the flaws of Russell Westbrook, that guy, he competes, alright. He’s a competitor, he’s a wild card. I’m just watching a Knicks team that is so lethargic right now where their second unit is better than their first. Some of these guys feel like they don’t even care.”

Westbrook on Trade Rumors: ‘I Never Worry’

One thing that is clear is that Westbrook does not want to be traded by the Lakers. The star point guard’s desire is to be with his family in Los Angeles, but the franchise is clearly perplexed by his fit on the roster during his short tenure with the Lakers.

When asked about the trade rumors, Westbrook emphasized that he is not worried, and likely for good reason as the Lakers are going to find it challenging to find a team willing to take on his sizable contract.

“I never worry,” Westbrook told The Athletic’s Sam Amick during a January 14 feature story. “Do the job. Be professional. Every year, my name is in trade (rumors). It never, never, never seeps into how I approach what I do. It’s kind of what I was mentioning back there (during the press conference). I see this game so different (in terms of) how to use it to be able to impact things.

“Regardless of if (a trade) did happen or if it didn’t happen, nothing’s going to change my mentality or my purpose. I feel like I have a purpose that’s bigger than basketball and I always keep that as my forefront regardless of what happens inside of pro sports.”