Lakers Rival ‘Open’ to Trading for Russell Westbrook: Report

Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook

Getty Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook

A Western Conference team is reportedly open to acquiring Russell Westbrook from the Los Angeles Lakers.

According to a September 18th report from LJ Ellis of SpursTalk, the San Antonio Spurs remain one of the few teams in the NBA open to absorbing Westbrook’s expiring contract. The one-time MVP will make $47.1 million in 2022-23.

“At one point in time, the Spurs were in talks with the Los Angeles Lakers to absorb Russell Westbrook’s contract,” Ellis wrote. “In that scenario, San Antonio was to be compensated with multiple draft picks. Currently, a source close to the Spurs says the two teams are no longer engaged in active talks due to the Lakers preferring offers by both the Pacers and the Jazz. According to a Western Conference scout, the Lakers are telling teams that they will take a wait-and-see approach to trading Westbrook as training camp approaches. If the Lakers decide to trade Westbrook at some point down the line, the Spurs remain one of the few teams in the league open to such a deal.”

Westbrook has been available for trade all summer after struggling last season. The UCLA product was second in the NBA in turnovers and had the sixth-worst effective field goal percentage, making him a poor fit next to superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Thus far, the Lakers’ refusal to offer their future draft picks has prevented them from trading Westbrook, who averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists in 78 starts in 2021-22.

Westbrook ‘Very Open’ to Getting Traded

According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, Westbrook is “very open” to getting dealt by the Lakers despite not formally requesting a trade. The nine-time All-Star would prefer to play for a team that will empower him.

One NBA executive who spoke to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report in August believed the Lakers had three remaining “obvious” partners they could pursue to make a Westbrook trade happen. The anonymous exec listed the Spurs, Indiana Pacers and Utah Jazz.

The Lakers acquired Patrick Beverley from the Jazz and signed Dennis Schroder in free agency this offseason. They also have Kendrick Nunn on the roster, creating a possible logjam at the guard position if Westbrook isn’t traded.

Proposed Trade Lands Lakers 3-Time All-Star & $41 Million Shooter for Westbrook

In an August 18th column called “Fresh NBA Trade Ideas to Create Newest Big 3s,” Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz proposed that the Lakers trade Westbrook, Max Christie and four future draft picks to the Spurs for Doug McDermott and Nunn to the Brooklyn Nets for Ben Simmons.

Brooklyn would also get Jakob Poeltl and Josh Richardson from San Antonio in the proposed three-team trade.

“Simmons can handle the ball and run the offense while reducing the workload for James, and he should also be fine with Anthony Davis and the four-time MVP taking the majority of the shots. For a Lakers team that slipped to 21st in defense last season, swapping out Westbrook for Simmons is a massive upgrade that allows Los Angeles to use all sorts of lineups,” Swartz wrote. “Shooting is an issue with Simmons, so the Lakers also pick up McDermott, one of the best floor-spacers in the NBA (42.2 percent from three last season).”

Simmons has career averages of 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists. He’s a three-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA defender. The LSU product’s biggest weakness is his jumper. Simmons, who missed the entire 2021-22 season, has only made five 3-pointers since entering the NBA and the point-forward is a career 59.7% shooter from the free-throw line.

McDermott, meanwhile, is one of the top shooters in the NBA. He’s a career 40.9% shooter from beyond the arc, which is good for ninth among active players. The 30-year-old has career averages of 9.2 points and 2.3 rebounds in 527 regular-season games with the Chicago Bulls, Oklahoma City Thunder, New York KnicksDallas Mavericks, Pacers and Spurs.

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