The Los Angeles Lakers opted not to trade Russell Westbrook during the offseason. A deal with the Indiana Pacers was reportedly on the one-yard line, but the Lakers ultimately opted not to make the trade and preserve the team’s draft equity.
Since then, Myles Turner and Buddy Hield have been playing for the Pacers, while Westbrook has begun to wobble around Los Angeles. Westbrook started the year on a promising note, but things have turned sour of late.
Turner’s strong play earned him a contract extension with the Pacers, effectively taking him out of the trade market. Indiana signed Turner to a two-year, $60 million extension as Lakers fans wonder what he could have been.
While a Westbrook trade may not be the most likely move, there is still a chance it could happen. Los Angeles made a trade for Rui Hachimura and if the team walks out, that could convince Rob Pelinka and the owners to make a bigger move. If so, there is a Westbrook interchange that is much better than the rest.
The best Russell Westbrook trade for the Lakers is for Zach LaVine.
Zach LaVine has been connected to the Lakers for quite some time with previous speculation that he wanted to join the purple and gold. LaVine is also a client of Klutch Sports, which is important to remember in case he tries to force his way into Los Angeles.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe added more fuel to the fire recently, speculating that the situation between the Bulls and LaVine might not resolve itself. If the two teams hit a dead end, Los Angeles instantly becomes LaVine’s favorite.
While he’s a stellar-caliber player, LaVine may not have as much trade value as fans would think. He is in the first year of a five-year contract and has been injury prone in his career. It would definitely be a risk for the Lakers to trade him for him, but it would be a risk worth taking to capitalize on this title window.
A Westbrook package of two unprotected first-round picks might well be enough to send LaVine into the purple and gold. Chicago would emerge from that long-term contract unscathed and also get two of the most valuable picks in the game.
If the team really begins to discuss a trade for LaVine this season, then it’s hard to see a trade that beats the Lakers’ offer. And if LaVine becomes available, it’s hard to imagine Los Angeles being that stingy where they would turn down the chance to get a better and younger star guard.
Los Angeles certainly shouldn’t waste draft capital on a bad Westbrook trade package, but this is far from it. This would be the best the Lakers can get in a Russell Westbrook trade.