It’s been reported that Los Angeles is looking to move Westbrook prior to the start of training camp, and one NBA executive believes there are three potential landing spots for the former MVP this offseason.
“Per one NBA executive, the Lakers have three remaining ‘obvious’ partners they should pursue to make a Westbrook swap in the Indiana Pacers, San Antonio Spurs or Utah Jazz,” Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus wrote.
The biggest issue for the Lakers in a potential Westbrook deal is that they almost certainly would need to give up draft capital to incentivize a team to take on the nine-time All-Star’s contract.
It’s extremely unlikely that a team would trade solid rotation-level players for Westbrook without receiving some assets in return. Westbrook is slated to make $47.1 million in the final season of his deal.
One option for the Lakers is a potential trade for Myles Turner and Buddy Hield with the Pacers, and Lakers legend Rick Fox believes that the team should pull the trigger on such a deal. However, those trade talks also stalled out earlier this offseason, and it’s unclear if Los Angeles has attempted to engage the Pacers in new discussions.
As for the Spurs, they have cap space to help absorb Westbrook’s contract. After moving on from guard Dejounte Murray this offseason, San Antonio seems primed to rebuild, which means adding draft capital to take on Westbrook’s salary would help the team in the long term.
Almost the same can be said for Utah, who has already moved on from Rudy Gobert and been rumored to be shopping Donovan Mitchell. If the Jazz do find a deal for Mitchell, they might be able to absorb Westbrook’s contract by sending back other players.
For the Lakers, it’s unfortunate that the partnership with Westbrook has reached a point where a trade seems like the best option. Last season, he averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game while shooting 44.4 percent from the field and 29.8 percent from beyond the arc.
With Los Angeles losing a key shooter in Malik Monk and bench scorer in Talen Horton-Tucker, moving on from Westbrook to improve the team’s depth seems like the best course of action for Los Angeles to contend for a title in the 2022-23 season.
With LeBron James already extending his contract with the team, the Lakers may have to sacrifice future draft assets to give him the best team possible to bring another ring to Los Angeles.