0 out of 5
Ronald Martinez / Getty Images
NBA training camps open next month, and Russell Westbrook is still at the Los Angeles Lakers.
New coach Darvin Hamm said All the right things On how he got the most out of Westbrook, like the stars of the Lakers committed To make it work and a year’s experience together should theoretically lead to better results, right?
Whatever people in and around the organization may say, there is simply no way the Lakers could start the 2022-23 season with the 33-year-old on the roster.
Westbrook’s transfer and his expiring $47.1 million contract should be a possibility, even if it means breaking up with future first-round picks and/or including some young talent on the roster.
These Lakers aren’t even close to contending for the title, as this list needs more shooting, defense and depth around LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The good news? There are a few teams that could use a financial reset, one massive salary that ends up in Westbrook would save. Reclaiming the compensation draft would also help improve the future resilience of those concessions.
All of these deals would involve the Lakers giving up at least one future first-round pick, something the franchise has been very reluctant to do. With James turning 38 in December and able to leave as a freelancer next summer, a message should be sent that L.A. will forever do what it takes to win as long as he’s still on the roster.
Each of the following deals is designed with the expectation that the franchise receiving Westbrook would rather buy it or turn it into another business than use it in court in 2022-23. Thus, the primary objective of these deals is to improve each team’s outlook for 2023-24 and beyond.
1 of 5
Adam Pantozi/NBAE via Getty Images
Los Angeles Lakers receive: SF Gordon Hayward, C. Mason Plumley
Charlotte Hornets receive: PG Russell Westbrook, 2027 1st round pick (unprotected), 2023 2nd round
Why does the Hornets say yes
Hayward hasn’t been able to stay healthy since arriving in Charlotte, playing in 44 and 49 games in each of his two seasons.
Still owed $61.6 million over the next two years, replacing Hayward and Plumley with Westbrook would unlock an additional $31.5 million in off-season space while LaMelo Ball is still on his start-up deal.
Plumley is on an expired contract and will almost certainly not be re-signed after picking the Hornets (Mark Williams and Kay Jones) positions in the first round for each of the previous two drafts.
Why do the Lakers say yes?
Hayward is well suited to the winger with the Lakers, as he can play on or off the ball and be a secondary playmaker alongside LeBron James. He’s also made 40.2 percent of his three-pointers in the past two seasons.
The injury fears are real, which is why the Lakers are only sacrificing one of their first future goals here. With two years remaining on his contract, Los Angeles should be able to scrap his salary next season if necessary.
Plumley is a strong player who will help keep Anthony Davis ahead, and he is a hugely underrated passer who should be able to find James after cutting the basket multiple times in the game.
New Look Lakers lineup: PG Kendrick Nunn, SG Gordon Hayward, SF LeBron James, PF Anthony Davis, C Mason Plumlee
2 of 5
Jim McKissack / Getty Images
Los Angeles Lakers receive: S.J. Tim Hardaway Jr., BF Davis Bertans, SF Reggie Bullock
The Dallas Mavericks receive: PG Russell Westbrook, SG Austin Reaves, first-round picks 2027 and 2029 (unprotected)
Why does Maves say yes
The Mavericks, even after letting Jalen Bronson walk for nothing this season, are $14.6 million above the luxury tax streak. Their bloated cover sheet is filled with underpaid roles, not to mention newly acquired big man Christian Wood, who will need a new contract next summer.
Pair Dallas’ tight financial situation and Bronson’s loss to teams such as the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets, presumably back to full health, and the Mavs – seeded No. 4 and finalist in the Conference last season – could be in danger of slipping. Arrangement of the Western Conference.
Losing the Hardaway, Bertans and Bullock could hurt the Mavs’ chances of contending for the title in 2023, but it also opens up $45.4 million in space next summer, meaning Dallas will have room to sign a max-level free agent to pair with Doncic.
The Mavs also pick up a receiver first as commercial ammo and get a young player in the Reaves to get him into the spin to help make up for Hardaway’s loss. A core group of Doncic, Wood, Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, JaVale McGee, Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell is still good and now has a better long-term outlook.
Switching three players for two (and then most likely buying Westbrook) will unlock an extra pair of roster points to add free agents or be aggressive in the acquisition market later in the season.
Why do the Lakers say yes?
That’s a good influx of talent for the Lakers, even if Bertans’ contract (three-year, $49 million with early termination option) is pretty brutal.
Hardaway is a 6’5-inch shooter who has averaged 15.7 points and shot 38.1 percent from three over his past three seasons. Bullock is the perfect 3D winger that the Lakers desperately need, and Bertans can be one of the best NBA groundbreakers when healthy.
Reaves give up and a couple of first-round picks stings, but these are perfectly suited pieces for L.A. to deliver.
New Look Lakers lineup: PG Kendrick Nunn, SG Tim Hardaway Jr. , S. F. Reggie Bullock, PF LeBron James, C Anthony Davis
3 of 5
Michael Hickey / Getty Images
Los Angeles Lakers receive: C Miles Turner, SG Buddy Hield, PG TJ McConnell
Indiana Pacers receive: PG Russell Westbrook, SG Austin Reaves, first-round picks 2027 and 2029 (unprotected)
Why do the Pacers say yes
These two teams have already discussed a similar deal with Los Angeles-bound Turner and Heald, one that was canceled after the Pacers asked for two first-round picks, according to The Athletic’s Bob Kravitz.
If Indiana wants to secure both the first round of 2027 and 2029 from Los Angeles and free up some extra space, McConnell must be included in the deal as well.
This trade will unlock an additional $28 million in space for the Pacers next summer and make Daniel Theiss the highest-paid player on the list with just $9.1 million. That’s an incredible amount of financial flexibility for a team that already has some young key pieces and will have a couple of extra first rounds to use in the future.
Why do the Lakers say yes?
That’s probably the best return in overall talent the Lakers can get for Westbrook, even if it means giving up all of their qualifying future early adopters.
Hield averaged 18.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 4.8 assists after his trade with Indiana last season and is the shooter for life with 39.8 percent of three.
Turner would give Los Angeles the best defensive front court in all of basketball alongside Anthony Davis, and his three-point shooting ability keeps everyone on attack.
McConnell is the perfect reserve point guard with his defensive and passing abilities, someone who can attack when LeBron James needs a break.
New Look Lakers lineup: PG Kendrick Nunn, SG Buddy Hield, SF LeBron James, PF Anthony Davis, C Myles Turner
4 of 5
Sarah Steer/Getty Images
Los Angeles Lakers receive: BF Julius Rundel, G/F Yvan Fournier
New York Knicks receive: PG Russell Westbrook, 2027 first round pick (Top 5 Protected)
Why does Knicks say yes
According to the NBA Insider Mark SteinHowever, the Knicks will “explore scenarios for trading away from Julius Randle” if they can acquire Donovan Mitchell in a deal, with the expiring Westbrook deal looking like a key option to do so.
Why stop there, though?
Fournier still owes $36.9 million over the next two years with a $19 million team option in 2024-25. If the Knicks acquire Mitchell and RJ Barrett is supposed to start as a junior striker, Fournier becomes an expensive backup in New York.
Moving Randle and Fournier to Westbrook will provide $44.6 million in relief in 2023. If trade does indeed drop for Mitchell, he’ll get a chance to recruit another superstar to New York to join Core with Barrett, Jalen Brunson, Mitchell Robinson, and others.
This could also turn into a three-team deal, with the Lakers’ first receiver used to help the Knicks get Mitchell.
Why do the Lakers say yes?
Randall and Fournier are overpaid, but they could still be NBA starters.
Randle was removed just one year after winning MVP with an average of 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 41.1% shooting from three, while Fournier (14.1 points on 38.9% of three last season) should thrive as a ground breaker. . From LeBron James.
Given the amount of money left in each of their contracts, the Lakers only sacrifice 2027 first and maintain their 2029 pick.
Randall isn’t necessarily the best with this roster on his return to Los Angeles, but he’s arguably the best player the Lakers can have against Westbrook.
New Look Lakers lineup: PG Kendrick Nunn, SG Evan Fournier, SF LeBron James, PF Julius Randle, C Anthony Davis
5 of 5
Chris Ellis/NBAE via Getty Images
Los Angeles Lakers receive: P Doug McDermott, J/F Josh Richardson
The San Antonio Spurs receive: BJ Russell Westbrook, 2027 first-round pick (unprotected), 2023 second-round pick, 2025 second-round pick
Why do Spurs say yes
San Antonio is clearly rebuilding after the Dejounte Murray trade. With this deal, she can collect three additional draft picks and increase her chances of expected No. 1 pick Victor Wimpanyama.
Swapping Westbrook’s expired deal for McDermott’s helps provide $13.8 million in additional roof space next summer when Spurs can become a major buyer of free agency — Keldon Johnson’s contract will be his only guaranteed salary of more than $5.8 million.
San Antonio could include Jacob Boltle in the deal and request the Lakers’ first-round pick in 2029 as well.
Why do the Lakers say yes?
This is Los Angeles’ best chance to add some excellent shots around LeBron James and Anthony Davis, as McDermott (42.2 percent of three) and Richardson (41.5 percent) both turned out the lights last season.
Richardson is also a good defender who can switch across multiple locations, something the Lakers desperately need.
As an added bonus, the Lakers don’t need to make matching money on this deal as Spurs have plenty of room to accommodate Westbrook’s salary in this framework. The trade will immediately save $21.1 million in Los Angeles, putting it $3.9 million below the luxury tax after paying $45.1 million in fines last year.
New Look Lakers lineup: PG Kendrick Nunn, SG Josh Richardson, SF Doug McDermott, PF LeBron James, C Anthony Davis