Proposed Trade Sends Lakers Ex-NBA MVP & a Former Top-10 Pick

Russell Westbrook Trade

Getty The L.A. Lakers may have a decision to make with Russell Westbrook.

The Los Angeles Lakers continue to face scrutiny for their draft-day decision to make a blockbuster trade for Russell Westbrook. Just in case the Lakers want to hit the reset button, Sports Illustrated’s Alex Kirschenbaum outlined five potential trade proposals involving Westbrook.

It is important to note that the Lakers have shown no signs of giving up on Westbrook despite his slow start. Westbrook is averaging 19.3 points, 9.1 rebounds and 8.9 assists while shooting a dismal 28% from long range. The star guard’s fit with the Lakers continues to be a work in progress, but fans would be wise to give Westbrook the benefit of the doubt given the rash of injuries the team has already dealt with to start the season. Westbrook needs time to get familiar playing with LeBron James and Anthony Davis before there can be a ruling on the current roster.

[wpdiscuz-feedback id=”z84jcmmq8j” question=”Would YOU want to make this deal with the Knicks? ” opened=”1″]That said, the Lakers window with James in his prime may be closing, and general manager Rob Pelinka will need to assess the situation by the trade deadline. Kirschenbaum suggests the Lakers make a blockbuster deal with the Knicks sending Westbrook to New York in exchange for Derrick Rose, Evan Fournier and Kevin Knox, a trade that is not possible until December 15 at the earliest.[/wpdiscuz-feedback]

“This may not be an incredible haul, but the market for Westbrook is fairly shallow, and the additions of Rose and Fournier, both capable jump shooters (Rose’s long-range touch has improved dramatically over the past few seasons) who can play off the ball, would be a cleaner fit around James than Westbrook,” Kirschenbaum explained. “The Lakers would certainly want a third useful player (Kemba Walker, perhaps) in the offing, but given their lack of leverage and need for any depth, they may not have the bargaining position necessary to avoid taking back a contract like Knox’s.”

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Fournier Would Give the Lakers Another 3-Point Shooter

This is the kind of deal where the Lakers would clearly be admitting they made a mistake by not trading for Buddy Hield. Instead, the Lakers opted to trade for Westbrook who is a career 30.5% three-point shooter. This deal gives the Lakers a do-over with a couple of intriguing pieces. My sense is this would not be enough for the Lakers to trade Westbrook, even if his trade value is not what it once was when he was a superstar on the Thunder.

Fournier gives the Lakers more shooting as the guard is a career 37.9% three-point shooter. The Knicks guard has gotten off to a slow start shooting 36.1% from long range so far this season. Fournier was a knockdown shooter during the 2020-21 season going 41.3% from long range during his time with the Magic and Celtics. The shooting guard has been a consistent scorer averaging 14.3 points during his 10 NBA seasons, but Fournier was much more of a focal point of the Magic offense than he would be with the Lakers.

Rose Resurrected His Career With the Knicks

Rose is no longer the MVP player he was when he won the award in 2011, but, similar to Carmelo Anthony, the point guard has created a new path for his career. The veteran guard was a big factor in the Knicks making the playoffs last season averaging 14.9 points, 4.2 assists and 2.9 rebounds while shooting a scorching 41.1% from behind the arc in his 35 appearances.

Rose is once again off to a hot shooting start going 48.9% from the three-point line in hist first 12 games. The Knicks guard has become a perfect fit for the sixth-man role off the bench.

Knox Has Been a Major Disappointment Since Being the No. 9 Pick in the 2018 NBA Draft

Few players need a change of scenery more than Kevin Knox, who has been a disappointment since the Knicks selected him with the No. 9 pick in the 2018 NBA draft. Knox has played in just three games this season averaging 2.3 minutes per contest. The forward did have a solid rookie campaign notching 12.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 28.8 minutes per game during the 2018-19 season.

Knox is far from the focal point of this proposed deal but is still just 22 years old. The Lakers could hope to resurrect his career given the star-studded cast that would surround him in Los Angeles. Here is how ESPN’s Jonathan Givony described Knox coming out of Kentucky and heading into the draft.

“One of the younger prospects in the draft, Knox is a tantalizing talent blessed with impressive physical tools and intriguing versatility on both ends of the floor,” Givony detailed. “He’s a good shooter who is comfortable making jumpers on the move, and has shown the ability to defend multiple positions thanks to his size, length and mobility.”

Westbrook Can Be a Free Agent This Offseason But Is Set to Make $47 Million During the 2022-23 Season

Despite having a few intriguing pieces, this deal is unlikely enough to move the needle for the Lakers to consider. There is still plenty of questions about Westbrook’s long-term future with the Lakers. Westbrook’s homecoming return to Los Angeles made for a nice story this past offseason, but James’ recent injuries has upped the Lakers’ sense of urgency.

Westbrook’s five-year, $206 million contract runs through the 2022-23 season where he is scheduled to have a $47 million salary. The star guard can opt out of his deal to become a free agent in 2022, but it is hard to imagine Westbrook commanding a similar salary on the open market.

If the Lakers are unable to turn around the season, the Westbrook rumors are only going to get louder as the February 10 trade deadline approaches. The Lakers should not hit the panic button yet until there is a bigger sample size with Westbrook, James and Davis sharing the court together.