The Los Angeles Lakers have been predicted to trade Russell Westbrook.
In an October 26th piece called “Way-too-Soon 2023 NBA Trade Deadline Predictions,” Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale predicted that the Lakers would trade Westbrook to the San Antonio Spurs or Indiana Pacers.
“The Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs loom as the most natural trade partners. Indiana is even less interested in the here and now than most Victor Wembanyama oglers, and San Antonio has nearly $30 million in cap space they can use to cushion the blow for the small-market Lakers front office,” Favale wrote. “I won’t take a stab at predicting how much it costs for L.A. to ship out Russ. At least one first-round pick and swap feels like the bare minimum. He’s on an expiring contract, but his salary is so gargantuan ($47.1 million) teams won’t acquire him with the intention of rerouting him elsewhere. And any squad that’s willing to stomach the money won’t have any interest in actually keeping him. His contract effectively becomes dead money they must waive or buy out.”
The Lakers can either acquire Buddy Hield and Myles Turner from the Pacers or Josh Richardson, Doug McDermott and Jakob Poeltl from the Spurs.
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 Turner and Hield before training camp started. Charania also reported on October 24th that Los Angeles held preliminary trade discussions with San Antonio in recent weeks. The Lakers are interested in acquiring Richardson, who is in the final year of his contract.
Favale: Determining Which Package the Lakers Might Prefer Is a Real Thinker
Favale wrote that “determining which theoretical package the Lakers might prefer is a real thinker.” However, the Bleacher Report insider knows that Los Angeles must move on from Westbrook no matter what.
“Determining which theoretical package the Lakers might prefer is a real thinker. A healthy Turner and engaged Hield gives them more of a nudge than Richardson and Poeltl. But a healthy Turner and engaged Hield are massive asks. The Spurs also have the ability to send out contracts that don’t add money to the Lakers’ 2023-24 books. That’s huge. Los Angeles is on track for semi-significant cap space next summer and can’t just bank on junking the final year and $19.3 million left on Hield’s deal over the offseason,” Favale wrote. “Regardless, Westbrook will be traded. Which is good. Because the Lakers are bad. And he seems very unhappy. Ending this marriage that never should’ve taken place is best for everyone.”
Westbrook, 33, is averaging 10.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists while shooting 28.9% from the field and 8.3% from beyond the arc this season. The Lakers are 0-3 and Westbrook already has a plus-minus of -16.
The Lakers Will Miss the Playoffs Again if They Keep Westbrook
The Lakers will miss the playoffs again if they keep Westbrook, who is 3-of-17 on jump shots this season, according to Kirk Goldsberry of ESPN. The 2016-17 MVP is a liability on offense since he can’t shoot jumpers.
Per Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, opponents are contesting jump shots by Westbrook only 41.2% of the time this season. Per Second Spectrum, that’s the lowest contest rate in NBA tracking data history, which dates back to 2013-14.
“To put Westbrook’s 41.2 percent contest rate in perspective, only two other players on record have had less than 50 percent of their jumpers contested: Joakim Noah, at 48.7 percent in 2013-14 with the Bulls, and Andre Roberson, at 48.8 percent during the 2016-17 season with the Thunder,” O’Connor wrote. “This season, Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon’s 60 percent contest rate is the league’s second-lowest behind Westbrook’s.”