The Lakers are tuning out the skeptics yet again and insisting to anyone who will listen that they would rather keep Russell Westbrook on the roster for next season than surrender additional assets to convince someone to trade for him. The Lakers are also said to be adamant that they won’t release the former MVP and eat his $47.1 million player option for next season after Westbrook picks it up.
I think everyone knows they kind of have to trade Russell Westbrook, that is partially why they are now entertaining keeping him. I do think, from what I've heard, there's a segment within the franchise that does believe Russ could be utilized better, that this could work that they could, you know, with the right head coach with the right supporting cast, they can figure that out.
As The Athletic’s Sam Amick reported last week, the Lakers are now strongly considering the possibility of keeping Westbrook because of the hardball stance the league is currently taking in trade negotiations.
Teams have been demanding the inclusion of at least one first-round pick to take on Westbrook’s massive expiring contract, according to league sources. Rival teams know how much of a public trainwreck last season was for the Lakers, and they’re not looking to do Los Angeles any favors by helping them off of Westbrook’s contract.
But the Lakers don’t subscribe to that theory. As of now, they have no intention of using a first-round pick to facilitate a Westbrook trade, according to league sources.
And it’s not merely a bluff or tactic to try to regain leverage in trade talks. That may be an ancillary motive, sure, but per league sources, there is a sentiment among some within the franchise that the right coach and a better supporting cast could smooth over Westbrook’s awkward fit with James and Davis.
I talked with you about Russell last year, when he was about to break Oscar’s career record for triple-doubles. And I thought it could work with him and LeBron and AD this year. Do you think it could still work? Magic Johnson: Well, it only can work, if you’ve got the coach — the right coach. To me, it still comes down to, who’s the coach? And, then, also, he’s on a one-year, $47 million (contract). Even if you offer him (in a trade), what are you, realistically, going to get back? I told them this too — you’re going to get some contracts you probably don’t want, and they’re going to go (chronologically) past his contract. You’ve really got to think about that. Are those players you’re going to get back, are they going to really help you? I said, talk to him. Whatever happened (this season), how can you make it better with Russell? How can you make it more comfortable? So they’ve got to figure all these things out. Take him out, take him to dinner or sit him down. How can this thing be better? ‘Cause if he’s going to be there, it’s got to be better. I guess whoever they name, that’s the first thing they’re going to have to do. And you can’t sit down once. You’re going to have to sit down for a week or two to try to figure that thing out.
The notion of Russell Westbrook remaining part of their program is seeming more real all the time. Despite the widely held belief that the Lakers would find a way to trade Westbrook before the start of next season, sources say their coaching candidates have been asked to discuss how they would use him in their system during interviews. The takeaway for candidates, it seems, is that maximizing Westbrook’s presence after his disastrous 2021-22 season is considered an important part of this job.
To that end, it’s worth revisiting my report from earlier this month about Jackson’s affinity for Westbrook. When the decision was made to fire Vogel, there was a belief from on high that Westbrook wasn’t put in a position to succeed. For Jackson’s part, sources say he has cited the Gary Payton dilemma in the 2003-04 Lakers season as a way of illustrating a coach’s need to make the best of roster decisions that weren’t his preference. In essence, deal with the hand you’re dealt rather than complain about it.
When the Lakers’ late owner, Dr. Jerry Buss, insisted on adding Payton in the summer of 2003, that meant Jackson had to convince Derek Fisher to come off the bench. And considering those Lakers had won titles in three of the previous four seasons with Fisher starting, this wasn’t a welcome situation for Jackson to have to handle. Yet though they didn’t win it all, the Lakers did manage to return to the finals that season (where they lost to Detroit). The comparison, it seems, was made to make the point that the coach (and his staff) should somehow find a way to find the Westbrook solution. Again, the strong signs continue that the Lakers are preparing for the possibility of Westbrook remaining.
On Wednesday, LA Times beat reporter Bill Plaschke, who only recently sat down for an hours-long one-on-one interview with Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, kind-of sort-of reported that Jackson would prefer to trade LeBron and keep Westbrook during an appearance on Doug Gottlieb’s radio show. “I’ve heard that Phil would like LeBron traded. I’ve just heard that but I’ve got nothing to back that up. No on-the-record stuff to back that up. I do know that Phil would like to keep Westbrook and try to make that work with him.”
Plaschke noted in his interview that in his discussion with Jeanie, she pushed back against the mere idea of trading LeBron, so it certainly doesn’t feel like that is a remote possibility. He also said he believes the Lakers would keep Westbrook next season and would make it a requirement for the next head coach to make it work with Westbrook, LeBron and Anthony Davis.
The nine-time All-NBA player removed any post with him in a Lakers jersey. The only thing with Russ depicted in purple and gold that remains is his profile picture. It's a very intentional move. When you have 19.4M followers, people are going to notice when you delete a slew of photos. Especially the ones of you playing for the team you're currently under contract with.
The million-dollar question: Will the Lakers move on from Russell Westbrook this offseason? — @ShowTime_32 The million-dollar answer: Yes.
That impasse prompted the Rockets to inquire about a trade deadline swap for Russell Westbrook, with the belief that Westbrook would be more amenable to negotiating a buyout. But those February conversations between Houston and the Los Angeles Lakers never gained serious traction, sources told B/R. The Rockets sought a future Lakers first-rounder, which was a non-starter for L.A.'s front office. It still seems unlikely that such a deal framework will ever cross the finish line.
Michael Scotto: I asked a few NBA executives what they thought of Russell Westbrook’s trade value now. One NBA executive said, “Westbrook will still be viewed as a negative asset by most teams, but some teams might be willing to take on one bad year in order to shed three years of future money.” Another NBA executive said, “Right now, his trade value is extremely negative. All it takes, however, is one team to be desperate to add talent and have bad contracts to make it happen. The reality is that 95 percent of teams view that as a terrible contract right now. They’re not doing that unless they’re dumping a bunch of stuff.”
Yet it has since been conveyed to me that the Lakers have more boundaries than advertised when it comes to weighing Russell Westbrook trades. One league source said that injury histories would be a prime consideration in any deal, given how injuries have so routinely intruded upon the last two seasons for both 37-year-old LeBron James and 29-year-old Anthony Davis.
Translation: The Lakers are unlikely to consent to a Charlotte trade headlined by Gordon Hayward — not after Hayward's first two seasons in Charlotte have likewise been injury-filled. The Lakers surely understand that they need to factor in durability if they are taking on long-term money, which suggests that Terry Rozier would have to be the Southern California-bound headliner if the Hornets and Lakers eventually progress to serious trade talks.
To other teams, Westbrook represented a one-year problem on the books as a way to erase long-term commitments to other players. Some scouts and executives around the league don’t view Westbrook as a useful player at this stage, especially with a nearly $50 million price tag. The Lakers could simply cut bait and release Westbrook, either using the stretch provision to move his salary cap hit over a handful of seasons or just bite the bullet and deal with it all at once (a far less likely scenario).
With Westbrook’s $47 million coming off the books after next season, the Westbrook contract acts as sort of an amnesty option for any organizations facing some regretful decisions over the next two or three seasons. Teams such as Charlotte and Indiana, two that league sources say could be involved, could possibly move a package of players to the Lakers for Westbrook.
The Indiana Pacers could emerge as a potential suitor for Westbrook, rival executives believe, but any trade involving the former NBA MVP will be complicated due to his massive salary and the Lakers’ next available first-round draft pick being in 2027, which the franchise will prioritize and thus be prudent in deciding the best route with Westbrook. Two other routes for Westbrook could be keeping him or discussing a contract buyout.
Mark Medina: LeBron James on if he can envision playing with Russell Westbrook again next season: "I'm not here to make decisions for the front office and that nature. But I loved being teammates with Russ."
Another option that could (stress: could) present itself provided the Pacers like the idea: The Lakers have a well-documented interest in Buddy Hield, who came to Indiana along with Haliburton in the Sabonis trade, and might well offer Russell Westbrook and his $47.1 million expiring contract for Hield and Brogdon. With the Pacers presumed to have no interest in Westbrook beyond his expiring salary, such a swap figures to hinge on what sort of draft compensation the Lakers would be willing to furnish to sweeten the deal for the Pacers to participate and then (we can only imagine) part ways with Westbrook.
Charlotte has been increasingly mentioned by league insiders as a team to watch on the Westbrook front. All-Star guard LaMelo Ball is firmly ensconced as the Hornets' face of the franchise and on-the-ball star, but one scenario making the rounds is a belief that the Hornets could emerge with Westbrook interest in the name of creating some financial flexibility. Gordon Hayward has two seasons left on a four-year, $120 million contract and has appeared in only 49 of Charlotte's 79 games this season. Terry Rozier has performed well this season, with an above-average PER of 17.36, but next season is Year 1 of a four-year, $97 million extension.
The Lakers gain the ability to trade an additional future first-round pick in 2029 in July after having only the 2027 first to shop at the deadline, which increases their optionality with Houston or any other potential trade partner. It's also conceivable that the Rockets, plenty weary of their own saga with Wall, could lessen their demands (two second-rounders?) as both Wall and Westbrook enter the final year of their current contracts. Unless the Rockets think they can trade Wall elsewhere, these discussions are bound to be renewed.
The buzz around the league suggests general manager Rob Pelinka has another year to get the Lakers back on track. The blame internally appears to be focused on injuries, Russell Westbrook and LeBron James for pressuring the team to trade for Westbrook.
Westbrook wants to run it back and see what the Lakers could do with improved health. “That’s the plan, but nothing is promised,” Russ said. “Like I said all season long: you gotta play the cards you’re dealt. Yes — we want to be able to see what that looks like, what that entails over the course of an 82-game season. But we’re not sure if that’s guaranteed neither. So, I just hope that we have a chance to be able to do something in the future.”
The other option is sending Westbrook into Oklahoma City’s cap space. The Thunder still have $31.65 million in space remaining through June 30 and can acquire Westbrook by just sending back Derrick Favors and an additional salary filler back to the Lakers. Such a deal could generate atrade exception north of $30 million, but would likely require at least one of the Lakers’ two first-round picks they’re allowed totrade this offseason.
If the Lakers were to package one or both of their 2027 or 2029 first-round picks with Westbrook, they’d ideally want to acquire good role players in return. For example, perhaps there is a deal with the Indiana Pacers where they can get two of Myles Turner, Malcolm Brogdon, and Buddy Hield for that package. Or if the Utah Jazz were to blow things up, Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic could make some sense.
A new report indicates that the New York Knicks are not interested in the idea of adding Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report spoke with Marc Stein and indicated that the Knicks’ lack of interest has been evident for a while. ”I pitched the idea to Knicks people time and again going back to the deadline, and they have no interest,” Fischer said. “… Everything I’ve heard is that New York is trying to grow this group as it is and mix and match a few parts and move forward.”
Sources say the coaching staff made an unsuccessful push for Westbrook to be traded before the Feb. 10 deadline, when the Lakers passed on Houston’s John Wall, in part, because of the draft considerations that it would have required to make the deal. There were also significant concerns about the fact that Wall hadn’t played all season and, thus, didn’t instill confidence in his ability to help the Lakers turn their season around.
Yet now, it appears, the friction between Westbrook and the coaching staff has only grown worse. Sources confirmed the recent rising of tensions between Westbrook and the coaching staff, which were first reported by Marc Stein. If only for a night, Westbrook’s 20-point, four-assist, four-rebound, plus-13 outing against the Warriors on Saturday offered a reminder that he is capable of being part of the solution. But the performance was an outlier, to say the least.
Sources say Jackson, the Lakers legend and ex-fiancé of Buss, whose presence at Saturday’s win against Golden State was highlighted by the team’s Twitter account, has been in frequent contact with Buss about team matters all season long. The complicated and often uncomfortable dynamics surrounding the Westbrook situation, in particular, are known to have drawn his interest. As unofficial consultants go, they don’t get much more experienced or credible than Jackson. Truth be told, Buss’ desire to hear Jackson’s point of view on this team should surprise no one. Especially because of his close ties with Rambis, who — like Pelinka with Bryant — has the kind of close connection with Jackson that has long been considered a factor when it comes to his own stature.
Magic Johnson: "This [Westbrook] trade could down as the worst trade in Lakers history if we don't get out of the play-in game”. ￼
NBA on ESPN: Magic Johnson did not hold back on the state of the Lakers this season: “[Russell Westbrook] quit battling the press, take ownership and accountability. … I’m tired of excuses, it’s time to take ownership and say ‘I just been playing poorly’.”
Jousting with reporters in press conferences is apparently not the lone source of pushback these days from under-fire guard Russell Westbrook. There has been no shortage of defiance behind the scenes, I'm told, when coaches and teammates have tried to broach changes in role or approach with the former MVP. For all the obvious complexities involved in trying to move Westbrook when he's owed a whopping $47 million next season at age 34, one league source described the idea of bringing him back next season as "impossible" based on current tension levels. The question then becomes: If the Lakers can’t construct a palatable trade, do they try to just buy Westbrook out? Or waive and stretch him?
LeBron James was a strong advocate for the trade that brought Westbrook to Hollywood and thus has to wear his considerable slice of culpability for how poorly things are working out. Yet one source did point out at least one counter on James’ behalf, noting that he was also one of the organization's staunchest Alex Caruso fans and badly wanted the Lakers to re-sign the defensive-minded guard. The Lakers, despite all of their considerable revenue streams, refused to offer a contract on par with the four-year, $37 million deal Caruso landed from Chicago because of the luxury-tax implications. The injuries that have limited Davis to 37 games have done the most damage to the Lakers' 17th-ranked defense, but Caruso's departure was another big hit. 1:28
In any case, there is mutual interest in finding Westbrook a new home this summer, sources said. The Lakers' trade deadline discussions with the Houston Rockets for a potential Russell Westbrook-John Wall swap didn't generate significant traction, sources said, as the Lakers were resistant to including their 2027 first-round pick in any deal to offload Westbrook's salary. League observers have pointed to this offseason as a greater opportunity for the Lakers to shed Westbrook's contract, when they will be eligible to move their 2029 first-round pick.
Los Angeles' most realistic option may ultimately be stretching Westbrook's $47 million player option for the 2022-23 season. The Lakers have already shown a willingness to stretch Luol Deng's contract, which finally slips off Los Angeles' books this year, although that came under Mitch Kupchak's stewardship. Stretching Westbrook, according to the strategist, would drop the Lakers to merely $2.5 million above the salary cap, which would allow them to sign a rotation piece to the non-taxpayer mid-level, and another player to the bi-annual exception.
By Monday morning, Paul had spoken to Stephen A. Smith of ESPN, with the latter of whom saying on “First Take” that the super agent wanted to deny one specific part of that report (emphasis mine): “Rich Paul called me yesterday and asked me to quote him on this story about him, and Klutch Sports, and essentially them wanting the Lakers to trade Russell Westbrook and a first-round pick to Houston for John Wall. He wanted me to state emphatically that there was absolutely, positively no truth to that whatsoever. He never did that. He did not do that. The people who wrote the story never contacted him to get any kind of perspective from him on that. “It is an absolute lie, and he said ‘could you please do me a favor and quote me and tell the world that I specifically said that’s a damn lie. There is no truth. It never happened.’ Just for what it’s worth, that’s what Rich Paul says about these stories that have been put out there. Fair enough. So I quoted him.”
In the wake of the Lakers not executing a transaction before last week’s NBA trade deadline, ESPN’s Ramona Shelbourne reported that the Lakers trio of Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, and LeBron James will likely being playing together again next year. “I’ve even heard this phrasing of this is probably going to be the roster next year too. A lot of the minimum contract guys will change, but I think this is what they got.”
It was previously reported that Houston wanted the Lakers 2027 first-round pick in exchange for taking on Westbrook's contract. ESPN's Ramona Shelbourne reported on an episode of the Hoop Collective that was not the case at the deadline. "The way I heard it was, it could've been done for a first round pick, but then, it was even suggested they could have done it for a pick swap. I don't know the details of what that swap would be like or how it would even work."
The Lakers were resistant to offering their 2027 first-round pick -- the only one they can offer -- in trade talks, including as the carrot in a potential exchange of John Wall and Russell Westbrook, sources say. A deal I'd have pitched: Westbrook, Talen Horton-Tucker and that 2027 first-rounder for Wall and Eric Gordon. Does that change your life? Maybe not. But LeBron is 37, and this team looks broken. Maybe a better deal will come along in the offseason.
Zach Lowe: I heard the Lakers never really discussed wall for Westbrook because of the Houston demanding the pick.
The Houston Rockets offered the Los Angeles Lakers a deal that would have swapped John Wall for Russell Westbrook, but the Lakers declined to include a first-round pick, sources told Chris Haynes as he relayed on TNT Thursday evening. The discussion ended because of the refusal to include the draft pick, sources said.
For starters, sources said that despite some pressure from members of the coaching staff, the Lakers never gained traction on talks about a Russell Westbrook trade, leaving top basketball executive Rob Pelinka with room to operate only around the margins of the trade market.
As it turns out, fans are going to be a lot more disappointed given the recent report that the Lakers were working on a monster deal that would have sent Russell Westbrook, Talen Horton-Tucker and a future first-round pick to the Houston Rockets for John Wall and Christian Wood.
Kristian Winfield: Woj: "The Lakers right now don't have any ongoing discussions on a Russell Westbrook trade."
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said that Rob Pelinka understands the difficulty regarding trading Westbrook. The Lakers general manager will have to deal with his enormous contact and possibly attach picks, which he is reluctant to do. “With $47 million due [to] him next season, there’s just not a marketplace to do that. The Lakers have shown a real reluctance to incentivize a deal, meaning add draft picks to it. They have picks still going out in other deals.”
Ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers' disastrous loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday, sources told B/R that L.A. was unlikely to trade Russell Westbrook at the deadline. The caveat: If LeBron James decides that fellow Klutch Sports client John Wall could be a better fit and is willing to push extremely hard for Westbrook's exit, the Lakers might consider a deal with the Houston Rockets.
Houston could be open to a trade if the Lakers also took on Daniel Theis' multiyear deal, but that's not attractive for Los Angeles given the boost in luxury tax and the team's desire to keep the books relatively clean for the 2023 offseason (when James' contract expires).
Jake Fischer: The way people talk in the NBA about Russell Westbrook as just being this damaged goods. I've pitched to Knicks people, you know, why not do the Evan Fournier for Julius Randle for stuff and you get off your long-term salary and clear your books for 2023 for free agency. Like everyone I've talked to you with the Knicks is they have zero interest in even entertaining the idea of doing that.
Sean Highkin: Frank Vogel, asked directly by @Bill Oram if there's a scenario in which Russell Westbrook isn't on the team after tomorrow: "If there's way to improve our team, we'll improve our team. I've got nothing else to say about the trade deadline."
Dave McMenamin: Russell Westbrook is out tonight with lower back tightness, per the Lakers. It will be the first game he has missed this season. LeBron James and Dwight Howard are both active.
Sources have indicated that the Lakers no longer believe they can win at a high level with Westbrook alongside James and Davis, but prior to Tuesday the line of thinking was that the Lakers would be unwilling to wave the white flag and admit their summer blockbuster was a failure. Instead, they would prefer to wait until the offseason, when they could also include a 2029 pick in a potential deal for another max-contract player looking for a new home.
Less than 48 hours before the trade deadline, James was echoing a sentiment that has spread throughout an increasingly dispirited Lakers organization. Sources told The Athletic that inside the locker room, players see and feel the same problems as everyone else, perhaps never more clearly than after a non-competitive loss to the champs. They understand as well as anyone that the personnel on this joyless 26-29 team simply isn’t working.
Either way, whether it is by Thursday’s deadline or in the summer, the Lakers know they need to find their way out of the Russell Westbrook business. One Lakers staffer who had reservations about the trade when it was made in July recently told The Athletic, “I didn’t think it would be this bad.”
“It’s obvious they’re trying to move Westbrook, which is damn-near impossible,” a league exec told Heavy.com. “They know that roster’s just not working.” Said another, “Russell plays hard and he’s always put up big numbers. But is he a winning player?”
For the second time this season, Russell Westbrook was benched by Lakers coach Frank Vogel to close out a game. Only this time, the Lakers won, beating the New York Knicks 122-115 in overtime on Saturday. And the result made all the difference to Westbrook in accepting the decision. "The best part of this game is that you win," Westbrook said after scoring five points on 1-for-10 shooting with six assists and four turnovers in 29 minutes. "Guys competed. We won the game and that's all that matters."
"That [fourth quarter] stretch was part of it," Vogel said of his decision-making process. "I think obviously Russ was having a tough night on both sides of the ball and Bron was really going. So I knew the ball was going to be in Bron's hands and I felt like we were going to get more from a defensive perspective and off-ball action with Talen, so ... you just make tough decisions in the spirit of whatever the team needs to win a game."
Harrison Faigen: Anthony Davis, on Laker fans booing Russell Westbrook. "The fans obviously want to see him play better... He's got to stay out of his own head, continue to play and do the little things."
However, Saturday his teammates lifted him up. "I just told him to text me later," James said of his postgame conversation with Westbrook. "I told him to keep going, to stop second-guessing himself during the game. There were a couple of times where he had good looks, second-guessed himself and a couple times where he had some drives and he had them and second-guessed himself. He's an instinctive player and he should never, what he's done in this league, he should never second-guess himself if he's put the work in -- and he's put the work in. So I just told him to just hit me later. "And I don't need to harp on what we need to say to him. I mean, he's a big-time player. And I have the utmost confidence in his ability, not only for this team but for himself, individually."
The Lakers, though, appear determined to stick with Westbrook through at least the rest of the season — which means holding onto their 2027 first-round draft pick for other potential trade opportunities League sources say that the Lakers, presented with an unexpected pathway to abort their Westbrook experiment by trading the NBA's 2017 Most Valuable Player back to the Rockets in exchange for former All-Star John Wall, are unwilling to attach the 2027 first-rounder to make the deal happen.
Yet there are also major optics concerns for the Lakers. Team officials, sources say, do not want to pay a premium to move on from Westbrook so soon after the Lakers gave up so much to get the Los Angeles native.
Barring the emergence of an expanded trade construction that involves three or more teams, or allows for a Westbrook-for-Wall exchange without including the precious draft pick, L.A.'s clear preference, sources say, is to bank on Westbrook finding another gear in the second half like he did for the Wizards last season.
Marc Spears: "I was told that they have a couple on the table, several on the table, but the only one that's really has some, you know, realistic potential to it is with the Lakers for Russ. They actually make, I don't know if it's nearly to the same dollar, but a similar salary, so you can trade them one-for-one without including anybody else. That 2027 Laker pick that you mentioned before, that first-round pick, seems to be pretty coveted, and I would expect it to be included in such a deal. But John's in Miami. He's been working out. He actually asked the Rockets for permission to be in Miami so he could be near his kids and focus on working out."
Marc Spears: "I've basically heard that there's a couple other possibilities, but they're more pie-in-the-sky possibilities, and it's not out of the realm of possibility for this one to happen. To me, I think that as of today, this is the only trade for John Wall. If it happens, and Westbrook does come back, the Rockets get somebody that at least they know.
Oklahoma City has the ability to generate $34 million in cap space, which would allow them to trade for just about any salary. They have enough cap space to take on a player like John Wall, Russell Westbrook, and Tobias Harris and all they would need to send back is Derrick Favors. Their ability to spend in this trade deadline will likely be their final opportunity for them to facilitate salary dumps until at least the 2023 offseason when they are projected to have cap space.
I included a line in there about how the Rockets have zero interest in Westbrook actually playing for them again, but I didn't properly expound on the buyout that would be required after such a trade. Westbrook is owed $47 million next season. If the Lakers actually reached the point that they were willing to send their 2027 first-round pick to the Rockets to convince them to ship out John Wall and take Westbrook back, it is expected that Westbrook and Houston would swiftly enter buyout talks.
Buyout discussions with a player owed more than $50 million are never easy, but it is believed Houston would happily cope with that challenge if it could get the future first-rounder from the Lakers. Reason being: The Rockets, remember, are already facing the same conundrum. Wall is owed $47.4 million next season and hasn't logged one minute this season after he balked at the limited role Houston offered him.
I have been advised that I should amend my previous characterization of the Lakers' finding a Westbrook trade from outright impossible to extremely unlikely. There is at least one team out there that would take him, league sources say, if the conditions are right. That team, surprisingly, is the Houston Rockets.
I, like many around the league, was previously under the impression that the Rockets would have less than zero interest in a Westbrook reunion after Houston traded Westbrook to Washington for John Wall in December 2020 shortly before the start of last season. I've since learned that the Rockets — while indeed holding no interest in having Westbrook play for them again — actually would be amenable to another Westbrook-for-Wall swap if the Lakers incentivized the trade with sufficient draft compensation.
To be clear: This is not a scenario likely to materialize between now and Feb. 10 or one I would advise the Lakers to pursue so soon even after all of my criticism of the Westbrook trade in the first place. Yet sources say that the Lakers could convince Houston to take Westbrook back for Wall if they attached their 2027 first-round draft pick to the deal. The Lakers could naturally try to offer multiple second-round picks instead, but L.A.'s 2027 first-rounder is the piece rival teams naturally covet.
The team could try to trade Westbrook, but sources say the market is nonexistent. If he were in the final year of his deal, the Lakers might have a shot. But at this point, no other team wants to commit to paying Westbrook $47 million next season.
If the Westbrook move were fundamentally flawed, who is to blame? Rob Pelinka is the team's vice president of basketball operations and general manager. The decision ultimately falls on his resume. But sources also say that James was a significant proponent for getting Westbrook. Does he bear any responsibility if he and his agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, applied significant pressure on the team to get it done?
So while the Lakers may have had second thoughts about this pairing, in other words, he has not. “No,” he said when asked if he had any regrets about the move. “Nah. I mean, not at all, because — like I told you — it’s bigger than basketball for me.”
“I never worry,” he fired back. “Do the job. Be professional. Every year, my name is in trade (rumors). It never, never, never seeps into how I approach what I do. It’s kind of what I was mentioning back there (during the press conference). I see this game so different (in terms of) how to use it to be able to impact things. “Regardless of if (a trade) did happen or if it didn’t happen, nothing’s going to change my mentality or my purpose. I feel like I have a purpose that’s bigger than basketball and I always keep that as my forefront regardless of what happens inside of pro sports.”
But we forget sometimes that executives are ultra-competitive in their professions as well, and it’s safe to say Morey has no interest in executing a bad deal because of pressure ever again. As an aside, sources say that’s also the reason the Sixers have zero interest in the prospect of swapping Simmons for Westbrook now and alleviating the Lakers’ fit concerns with their superstar trio.
The Athletic’s Sam Amick reported this week that the Lakers have had internal discussions about possibly trading Russell Westbrook, but according to my sources around the NBA, the appetite for that player making $44 million this season and $47 million the next is very low.
All of which explains why sources say the Lakers showed some covert interest in discussing a possible Westbrook trade with rival executives earlier this season. A deal appears extremely unlikely before the Feb. 15 trade deadline, if only because his deal that was once seen by so many as untradeable is such a massive obstacle. But inside the Lakers, it seems, there is some recognition that this hasn’t gone as (James and Davis had) planned
Jake Fischer: The only outgoing call I confirmed was to Philadelphia for Ben Simmons… When I got the information that they called about Ben, the conversation pretty much was, “We’re interested in Ben. How would we get there?” The obvious solution is Russell Westbrook. He’s not a player on that Sixers list that they have.
The trio of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook simply hasn’t blended as well as Lakers figures hoped, and Los Angeles has held internal discussions on trade scenarios for Russell Westbrook, league sources told B/R. But moving Westbrook and the two years, $91 million remaining on his contract does seem unlikely.
Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio’s salaries would match Westbrook’s pricey deal, reuniting James with a former championship counterpart. But that structure would have little interest from the Cavaliers’ side and has not yet been discussed by the two teams, sources said. Outside of Love’s large number, there are simply few players aside from John Wall, for whom Westbrook was traded to Washington last summer, who are available for trade and come close to Westbrook’s earnings.
The Wizards’ decision to trade Russell Westbrook to the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason may have been in the best interest of the star point guard, but Washington GM Tommy Sheppard attests that Westbrook was “professional” and never demanded a trade from the team. “I really have to make sure the record is straight on that,” Sheppard said in an interview with NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller. “Russell actually never asked to move on. He just said, ‘If I can get to the Lakers, that’d be something I would love to do. If not, I’ll be back here.’ I said, ‘What about the Clippers?’ He said, ‘Hell no.’ So Russell was happy being here and we were very grateful for him being here.”
Fred Katz: Here is what the final version of the five-team trade looks like, according to sources: Seven players Rights to three more Draft picks Draft swaps 18 total trade pieces pic.twitter.com/6Uoy74XMcr
Bobby Marks: Here is what the 5 teamer looks like To WASH Kuzma KCP Harrell Dinwiddie A. Holiday Rights to I. Todd (#31) To LAL Westbook To BKN 2024 2nd 2025 2nd (right to swap with GSW or WAS) $11.5M Trade Exception To IND Rights to I. Jackson (#22) To SAS C. Hutchison 2022 2nd (WAS)
Bobby Marks: Because there is no salary incoming, Brooklyn does not have to match salary. The Dinwiddie money was added to Kuzma, KCP, Harrell, Holiday to match the Westbrook contract. $49.7M to WASH $44.1M to LAL That falls within 125%
Hearing the most likely outcome is that the Spencer Dinwiddie sign-and-trade becomes part of the Russell Westbrook trade. That would make it, at minimum, a four-team deal (Nets, Lakers, Wizards, Pacers) that includes a sign-and-trade, base-year compensation and the luxury-tax apron, and there may very well be a fifth team involved to drop off unwanted salary. Fasten your seat belts, cap guys; it's about to get crazy out there.
NBA Central: "Here's a great player in Russell Westbrook, played in OKC, wanted to be traded, went to Houston, wanted to be traded, came to D.C., wanted to be traded and is now in L.A." - Wizards Owner Ted Leonsis on Russell Westbrook 😯 (Via ESPN) pic.twitter.com/Mzen1eu9Aq
August 15, 2022 | 2:10 am EDT Update
Fox 32 Chicago Sports: Giannis on playing for the #Bulls someday tonight on The Sports Zone on Fox 32 Chicago. @fox32news @foxkickoff @LouCanellis @CassieCarlsonTV @Giannis_An34
“I think anyone asked that question who plays basketball, if he said no, he’d be a liar. It’s a team that won multiple championships, a team with one of the greatest players, if not the greatest player to ever play this game. It’s a no-brainer, everybody would love to play for Chicago. Down the line, you never know. You never know how life brings it. Maybe I play for Chicago,” Antetokounmpo said. “But right now, I’m committed to Milwaukee.”
Dave McMenamin: The L.A. Clippers will tip off their regular season against the Los Angeles Lakers on Oct. 20, a source told ESPN, in what will be a designated ‘road’ game for LAC. The Clippers currently have a seven-game winning streak versus their Crypto.com Arena cohabitants
Clippers coach Tyronn Lue is unbeaten in seven games against the Lakers since taking over two seasons ago, while it will be Lakers coach Darvin Ham’s first meeting of arena tenants since his hiring in May. The game will be the Clippers’ season opener, while the Lakers will open two days earlier, on Oct. 18, at defending champion Golden State, according to a person with knowledge of the schedule.
Duane Rankin: #Suns at #Nuggets Christmas Day, sources confirm to @azcentral. Phoenix 2-1 vs. Denver last season, winning last two. Won at Denver 140-130 Mar. 24 for 60th win. Devin Booker 49 after Amir Coffey’s face was on screen instead of his in starter intro. “That was disrespectful.” pic.twitter.com/7sPb2PDQ0J
On Sunday, Durant sent a tweet hinting that he’s going to delete his account on the platform amid the talks that it is ruining his legacy. However, he has since deleted the post. What’s interesting is Kevin Durant sent it out after people kept criticizing him for being the culprit in the current state of the player empowerment era in the NBA. A lot of players seem to be abusing that power to get out of situations they don’t like despite signing their contracts and teams paying them tons of money.
Clutch Points: Steph Curry, Seth Curry, Jayson Tatum, Rich Paul and company at Draymond Green’s wedding 💯 (via tatum_camps/IG) pic.twitter.com/NYHtcmFrhr