While the Lakers have been linked to both teams this offseason, The Athletic’s Jovan Buha recently shared his latest intel on the situation.
“As far as Westbrook’s trade market, I’ve heard Indiana and Utah are the two most likely destinations,” Buha said. “I think Utah is, from what I’ve been told, more likely than Indiana. There are several permutations there with Indiana where it could be Myles Turner and Buddy Hield together or one of the two.”
Hield and Turner would be great pieces for the Lakers to acquire in a Westbrook trade, but talks between the Pacers and Lakers on such a deal were described as “dead” earlier this offseason. Things may very well have changed since then.
The biggest issue for Westbrook on the current Lakers roster is his inability to score efficiently from the perimeter. Adding a player like Hield, who is a great shooter, would greatly improve the team’s offense, especially with point guard Patrick Beverley now in the mix.
During the 2021-22 campaign, Hield averaged 15.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game while shooting 40.6 percent from the field and 36.6 percent from 3-point range. His ability to stretch the floor, as well as Turner’s ability to do the same from the center position, would make the Lakers much tougher to defend in the 2022-23 season.
Despite all of that, the Jazz may be an easier landing spot for Westbrook since they could trade away star Donovan Mitchell this offseason.
If Mitchell is dealt, Utah will likely take back a combination of players and picks, and L.A. reportedly could find a way to get involved in such a deal as a third team.
A former MVP, Westbrook 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 in the 2021-22 season.
Even though Lakers head coach Darvin Ham seems willing to find a role for Westbrook in the 2022-23 season, the team may be better off trading him for players that fit better alongside Anthony Davis and LeBron James.
After missing the playoffs last season, the Lakers have made some tweaks to their roster in hopes of contending in the 2022-23 campaign, and moving on from Westbrook may be the final step in truly building a better roster.