Proposed Trade Lands Lakers $75 Million Guard & $41 Million Big Man for Russell Westbrook

Lakers star Russell Westbrook

Getty Lakers star Russell Westbrook

While Los Angeles Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook wasn’t traded over the summer, league sources told Sam Amick, Shams Charania and Jovan Buha of The Athletic that the prospect of the 2016-17 MVP being traded in the coming weeks and months remains real.

Westbrook is in the final year of his contract ($47,063,478), so he could be moved closer to the 2023 trade deadline since teams could be attracted to his expiring salary.

One Western Conference executive who spoke to insider Sean Deveney proposed a Westbrook trade the Lakers could make with the Dallas Mavericks. Los Angeles would acquire Christian Wood and Tim Hardaway Jr. for Westbrook.

“There is going to be a team that comes out and just has a sh** season,” the NBA exec told Deveney. “Someone gets hurt, someone doesn’t play well, someone else gets hurt and it’s a mess. That is the kind of team that would look at its bad contracts and maybe want to clear them out. So that’s the possibility there. If Luka [Doncic] gets hurt in Dallas and the Lakers take on Hardaway and Christian Wood for Russ without giving up a draft pick, something like that. Dallas can clear its books a little.”

This proposed trade isn’t eligible to be made under CBA rules since the Mavericks would be over the luxury threshold. Westbrook’s incoming salary exceeds what’s allowed via the 125% plus $100,000 rule. Dallas would need to cut $4,563,812.

The Mavericks could add Josh Green and Frank Ntilikina to the deal. The final proposed trade would send Westbrook to Dallas and Wood, Hardaway Jr., Green and Ntilikina to Los Angeles.

Wood & Hardaway Jr. Could Thrive With the Lakers

Wood and Hardaway Jr. could thrive with the Lakers since they bring specific skills Los Angeles needs around All-Stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Wood is an athletic rim-running big who can catch lobs, stretch the floor and protect the paint, while Hardaway Jr. is a sniper from beyond the arc.

Wood spent the previous two seasons with the Houston Rockets, averaging 19.1 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists while shooting 50.7% from the field and 38.4% from beyond the arc. The 27-year-old Long Beach native made 131 3-pointers last season. When Wood leaves the paint and goes to the perimeter to shoot, he brings his defender with him, creating more driving lanes. James and Davis need a big guy who does that since the Lakers are one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the league.

On opening night against the Golden State Warriors, the purple and gold shot 25.0% as a team from beyond the arc. The Warriors packed the paint versus the Lakers, preventing James and Davis from attacking the rim.

Speaking of shooting, Hardaway Jr. is a career 35.8% shooter from deep. He made a career-high 207 shots from 3-point land during the 2020-21 season. Hardaway Jr. dealt with injuries last season, so he only played in 42 games. However, the guard is healthy again.

The Lakers could start Kendrick Nunn, Hardaway Jr., James, Davis and Wood if they traded Westbrook to the Mavericks for Wood, Hardaway Jr., Green and Ntilikina. That’s three shooters (Nunn, Hardaway Jr., Wood) around James and Davis in the starting unit. LeBron would also have two lethal lob threats in Davis and Wood to toss the ball to when he collapses the paint.

The Lakers Have to Move Westbrook

The Lakers lost to the Warriors by a final score of 123-109. Westbrook played 31 minutes and finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and four turnovers while shooting 7-of-12 from the field, 1-of-3 from beyond the arc and 4-of-5 from the free-throw line. The nine-time All-Star had a plus-minus of -6.

Westbrook didn’t play poorly versus the Warriors. However, he’s still an awful fit next to James and Davis due to his inability to shoot the ball and propensity to turn the rock over.

The Lakers need more shooters around James and Davis and Wood and Hardaway Jr. fit that bill. General manager Rob Pelinka needs to get a Westbrook deal done before he wastes any more of James’ talent. LeBron turns 38 in December and the King is still playing at an elite level, but the players around him and Davis don’t make any sense.

Only four players (James, Davis, Westbrook, Nunn) scored in double-figures for the Lakers against the Warriors. The team hit just 10 3-pointers in 40 attempts.

Read More