The Los Angeles Lakers are still discussing Russell Westbrook trades ahead of this season’s trade deadline, a Western Conference executive told Heavy.com’s Sean Deveney.
“During Deveney’s discussion with the Western Conference executive, some additional trade options for Westbrook were discussed, with the onus being on taking back longer-term contracts to sweeten any potential deal,” Heavy.com’s Adam Taylor wrote.
It’s interesting to see the Lakers still discussing deals for Westbrook, especially since he’s played so well for them in a bench role this season.
Westbrook’s contract is up at the end of the 2022-23 season, but it is still for over $47 million. So, the Lakers may need to take on salary for future years from a team to avoid giving up significant draft capital to move off of his deal.
This season, Westbrook is averaging 15.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game while shooting 42.1 percent from the field and 29.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Los Angeles has really needed him to step up with Anthony Davis out of the lineup with a foot injury, and Westbrook has been on a recent scoring tear, posting five straight games with 20 or more points scored.
It’s possible that the Lakers believe that a Westbrook deal is the only way to bring in more help around LeBron James and Davis (once he returns), but the team has been reluctant to give up draft capital to move him so far this season.
While the Lakers could preserve some of their draft assets by taking on worse contracts for Westbrook, they also may not be receive as many high-quality players in return.
Right now, the Lakers are the No. 13 seed in the Western Conference with a 20-24 record. However, the West is extremely tight this season, and Los Angeles is just 2.5 games back of the No. 6-seeded Los Angeles Clippers.
Westbrook, a former MVP and nine-time All-Star, has accepted a move to the bench this season for the betterment of the team.
The Lakers’ goal should be to build a winner around James, especially since he’s playing at such a high level this season, but they need to be careful about trading Westbrook and taking on future salary if it isn’t going to raise the team’s ceiling this season and beyond.
The last thing the Lakers want is to take on contracts that hurt the team next season when James is in the final year of his deal with the team.