Lakers Urged to Trade Future Hall of Famer This Season

Lakers stars LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook

Getty Lakers stars LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook

The Los Angeles Lakers have been urged to trade a future Hall of Famer this season.

In an October 7th piece called “1 Player Every NBA Team Should Trade This Season,” Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley named Russell Westbrook as the player the Lakers should move on from.

“Seriously, how have the Los Angeles Lakers not traded Russell Westbrook yet? Westbrook is a poor fit for this roster and as a LeBron James sidekick in particular,” Buckley wrote. “The ideal co-star for James has a reliable three-point shot, doesn’t need many touches to be effective and relentlessly attacks the defensive end. What boggles the mind is not only how far Westbrook is from that description, but how well it applies to Patrick Beverley. The Lakers have an easy, obvious solution at point guard once Westbrook gets the boot, and they even have a Beverley backup after adding Dennis Schröder in free agency.”

The Lakers, who missed the playoffs last season, tried to trade Westbrook all offseason. They had discussions with the Utah Jazz, Brooklyn Nets, San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers, league sources told Ultimately, Los Angeles didn’t trade Westbrook, who becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2023.

According to an October 3rd report from Sam Amick, Shams Charania and Jovan Buha of The Athletic, the Lakers seriously considered trading Westbrook and unprotected first-round picks in 2027 and 2029 to the Pacers for center Myles Turner and shooting guard Buddy Hield before training camp started. While Westbrook wasn’t traded, the prospect of him being moved in the coming weeks and months remains real.

Buckley: Lakers Could Use Turner’s Rim Protection & Hield’s Perimeter Shot

Buckley believes the Lakers should trade Westbrook to the Pacers for Turner and Hield even though it would cost the franchise two future first-round picks.

“Any Westbrook deal holds major addition-by-subtraction potential, but the oft-discussed swap with the Pacers for Myles Turner and Buddy Hield—which reportedly reached the “one-yard internally” for L.A., per The Athletic’s Jovan Buha (h/t Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen & Roll)—looks particularly enticing given how much L.A. could use Turner’s rim protection and Hield’s perimeter shot,” Buckley wrote. “Get. It. Done.”

Hield and Turner are better fits on the Lakers than Westbrook is since both guys can shoot from the perimeter. Hield is 50th all-time in made 3-pointers and has never shot below 36.0% from 3-point range in a season. The Oklahoma product has career averages of 15.9 points and 4.3 rebounds while shooting 39.8% from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Turner has career averages of 12.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 2.3 blocks while shooting 34.9% from deep. The Texas product can not only stretch the floor as a big man, but he’s also an elite defender. Turner is a two-time blocks champion.

LeBron James Hasn’t Pressured Lakers to Make Pacers Trade

LeBron James reportedly applied no pressure to the Lakers front office to trade Westbrook to the Pacers for Turner and Hield, according to Amick, Charania and Buha. James, who signed a two-year extension in the summer, remains supportive of the current regime.

“In addition, James has shown support publicly and privately to integrating Westbrook and playing with the former league MVP again this season, and multiple sources said he applied no pressure to the Lakers front office to do the Pacers’ deal,” Amick, Charania and Buha reported. “Seven months have passed since James’ tweet supporting the ‘f— them picks’ approach of Rams GM Les Snead led some to wonder how he saw the Lakers’ strategy, and sources say he remains supportive of the current regime. And while Pelinka made it clear on media day that he’s willing to trade precious picks in the right deal, that time has yet to arrive.”

If the Lakers don’t trade Westbrook, the one-time MVP has to limit his turnovers and make his perimeter shots this season for the purple and gold to win games and compete for a title. Westbrook was second in the NBA in turnovers last season and ranked 42nd in true shooting percentage.

Amick, Charania and Buha reported that Westbrook slightly refined his shooting form over the summer. Only time will tell if the All-Star guard can hit jumpers for the Lakers on a consistent basis this season.

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