However, as the weeks have passed, some have become disinterested in the whole saga and are looking to see what else is there when it comes to a Russell Westbrook trade. Other rumors have suggested the nine-time All-Star and former MVP could end up elsewhere–just not as a Brooklyn Net.
With talks between the Lakers and Nets stalled, where else could LA turn in order to make a deal that moves the needle?
Evaluating Three Lakers Trade Rumors
New York Knicks
At first glance, the Knicks do not make sense as a Westbrook trade partner. They just moved mountains to sign Jalen Brunson and have a young core that could develop into great role players. However, Marc Stein noted that Russ would only land in the Big Apple if New York acquires Donovan Mitchell. The Knicks have plenty of motivation to pursue a trade for the triple-double machine–the main one being Julius Randle‘s behemoth of a contract extension. Aside from Randle’s $27 million, the Knicks could also offer one of Evan Fournier ($18M) or Derrick Rose ($14.5M), as well as Cam Reddish, who was a rumored target for the Lakers at the last Trade Deadline. Any combination of those players could star in their roles and be great fits for LA’s system.
The Jazz have become more active in trade rumors since moving Rudy Gobert to Minnesota. No, I’m not saying Donovan Mitchell will end up a Laker (even though a guy can dream), but Utah does have the potential to flip some assets from the Gobert trade to the Lakers, namely Patrick Beverley and Malik Beasley. Beverley, a gritty, defense-first guard, would fit Darvin Ham’s system like a glove. Beasley would fill their need of shooting, having a career three-point percentage of 38.6%. Aside from those two, whose combined salary comes out to $28.4 million next season, the Lakers could also consider a reunion with Jordan Clarkson or add to their point guard depth with Mike Conley, who, at 34 years old, still has quite a bit left in the tank. Nonetheless, Utah has the assets needed in a trade for Westbrook. LA could find success by returning to the formula that last brought them a title: LeBron, AD, and a solid supporting cast.
The Pacers have been the most active trade partner in the Westbrook talks, with discussions revolving around Buddy Hield, the 6’4″ sharpshooter who the Lakers almost traded for before pivoting to Russ. Aside from Hield, however, the rumors also link Myles Turner, the 26-year-old shot-blocking beast, with the purple and gold. The latest report on the matter, courtesy of Marc Stein, noted that the Pacers rejected LA’s offer of Westbrook and draft compensation for Hield and Turner.
Basketball News’s Evan Sidery doubled down on Stein’s reporting.
Current offer on the table is Russell Westbrook + 2027 1st for Myles Turner + Buddy Hield, per @bkravitz on @JMV1070 today. The Pacers will accept if the Lakers also include their 2029 1st. https://t.co/8lmbWz3C03
— Evan Sidery (@esidery) July 22, 2022
This is a perfect scenario for the Lakers, who are desperately in need of shooting and shot-blocking. Hield would be excellent as a threat from the perimeter. Turner, who averaged 3.4 blocks per game two seasons ago, would do wonders next to Anthony Davis in the frontcourt. Fans are hoping that this Plan B deal gets done if LA loses out on Kyrie. It certainly moves the needle for the team and could bring them back into title contention if all goes well.
These three teams meet all of the Lakers’ needs when it comes to a return for Westbrook. If the stars align, they may even serve as the third team in a trade for Kyrie Irving. Time will tell if smoke develops from the fire set by these new rumors, but the Lakers may be one step closer to trading Westbrook and benefiting as a result. Overall, keep an eye out for future Lakers trade rumors.