Lakers Could Trade Russell Westbrook for $142 Million Wing & $89 Million Guard

Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook on January 7, 2023

Getty Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook on January 7, 2023

In a January 11 column called “B/R Staff Roundtable: What Should Lakers Do at the 2023 Trade Deadline?” Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz proposed that the Los Angeles Lakers make a trade with the Detroit Pistons.

Swartz wrote that the Lakers should trade Russell Westbrook, Max Christie, a 2027 unprotected first-round pick and a 2023 second-round pick to the Pistons for Bojan Bogdanovic, Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel.

“Bogdanovic is the perfect fit for this team, but the Lakers shouldn’t get off the phone with the Pistons just yet,” Swartz wrote. “Landing Burks and Noel, two proven veterans with various skill sets, would make L.A. a better defensive team and deeper overall. Bogdanovic is a tough, playoff-tested forward who’s connecting on 45.9 percent of his catch-and-shoot threes this season, per, en route to his 21.0 points per game. Burks is also shooting the lights out this season, making a career-high 43.8 percent of his overall threes while chipping in 14.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists off the bench. Noel is a versatile defender and talented rim protector who would give the Lakers frontcourt more depth behind Davis.

“A starting lineup of Dennis Schröder, Patrick Beverley, James, Bogdanovic and Davis with Lonnie Walker IV, Burks, Austin Reaves, Thomas Bryant and Noel off the bench is suddenly a really interesting squad and still possesses the 2029 first-rounder to use as future trade bait. The trade also shaves $9.2 million off the Lakers’ payroll this season, and club options for Burks and Noel next year give L.A. some financial flexibility.”

Swartz’s hypothetical trade is eligible to be made under CBA rules. Westbrook is on an expiring $47.1 million contract and Christie is on his rookie deal. Bogdanovic is making $19.3 million this season and will have earned more than $142 million in his career when his contract expires after the 2024-25 campaign. Burks, meanwhile, is earning $10 million this season and will have accumulated more than $89 million in NBA money when his contract ends following the 2023-24 season.

Bojan Bogdanovic & Alec Burks Would Help the Lakers Immensely

Bogdanovic and Burks are two veterans who can shoot the ball well and create shots off the dribble. Bogdanovic is a career 39.4% shooter from deep, while Burks is at 38.4%. The Lakers desperately need more shooters and scorers around superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, as they are 24th in the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage (34.1%).

Bogdanovic is averaging 21.0 points this season while shooting 41.6% on 3s. Burks, meanwhile, is putting up 14.0 points per game while shooting 43.8% from 3-point range. Bogdanovic has made 101 3-pointers and Burks has hit 60. The Lakers’ leader in 3-point baskets is Lonnie Walker IV (66).

“The Lakers are 17-12 overall since Nov. 13 and sit just a game-and-a-half outside of the West playoff picture. LeBron James and Anthony Davis have both been outstanding this season, with L.A. not looking all that far away from being a real threat to go on a playoff run,” Swartz wrote. “While landing another All-Star may be out of the question given their limited trade assets, the Lakers have to look for some sort of upgrade at the deadline and give James at least a chance at a fifth championship.”

Russell Westbrook Doesn’t Fit Next to LeBron James

Westbrook isn’t a good fit next to James since he’s not a reliable perimeter shooter. The 2016-17 MVP is shooting only 28.5% from beyond the 3-point line this season.

“It’s long past time for the Los Angeles Lakers to end the Russell Westbrook era, even if that doesn’t mean the team wins the trade in a landslide,” Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey wrote on January 2. “That seems to be what general manager Rob Pelinka is waiting for, and that deal just might not be out there. In the meantime, the bad fit between Westbrook and LeBron James continues to cost L.A. games and diminish its chances to make the playoffs. Right now, the Lakers have a point differential around that of a 31-win team when Westbrook is on the floor and one around that of a 38-win team when he’s off. That second number certainly won’t blow anyone away, but finishing around 40 wins might get L.A. into the play-in tournament. And if LeBron and Anthony Davis are healthy for win-or-go-home games (big ifs, for sure), you have to like the team’s chances to make the playoffs.”

Westbrook, 34, is tied for fifth in the NBA in turnovers this season with Milwaukee Bucks All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo. The UCLA product also has the third-worst effective field goal percentage in the league.

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