Here are the LA Lakers’ 6 Best Options to Move Russell Westbrook
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The Los Angeles Lakers started the season … slowly. They hoped new head coach Darvin Ham and a younger, healthier roster would lead to a better performance than last year’s 33 wins. But the results were worrying. The team is winless in three games, poorly assembled and historically bad from three-point range (21.2 percent).
The early failures aren’t entirely on Russell Westbrook, but he stands out as the obvious problem given his team-high $47.1 million price tag and how bad he fits next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The Lakers have been trying to get out of their deal since before last season’s trade deadline.
With offseason deals too expensive, the hope going into the season was to gauge progress the first 20 games. But the losses are already mounting. Multiple executives around the league expect Los Angeles to eventually give up their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks to move Westbrook.
Is there a “Lakers tax”? Some executives believe it’s real—less because of historic rivalries but because of pressure to launch a contender around James and LA. recent history of questionable deals.
Will the Lakers rush into a panic trade? What kind of return would they be looking for in an early to mid-November deal?
Buddy Hield and Myles Turner for Two Firsts
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The Lakers and Indiana Pacers (1-3) have been in a staring contest for months. Pacers governor Herb Simon has long resisted tanking, but the team isn’t very good. Would he be more open to accept that path for the first of both Lakers?
Indiana is believed to be interested in a deal. The Lakers would get Buddy Hield and Myles Turner, possibly with Daniel Theis and/or TJ McConnell. LA didn’t get much out of Damian Jones and Thomas Bryant (out with a thumb injury). Turner would help the Lakers defensively and allow Davis to play more power forward.
Given his questionable durability, Turner’s value may not be as much as a single in the first place. Many view Hield as more of a negative asset due to his production at $39.1 million plus this season and next. However, he would help address the Lakers’ biggest weakness as a high-volume three-point shooter.
Multiple San Antonio Players (Jakob Poeltl or Trade Exception?)
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The San Antonio Spurs have enough salary cap space to make an unbalanced trade. The Lakers and Spurs have been communicating for several months about the possibility of working together on a Westbrook trade, but nothing seems to have come close to materializing.
The Lakers would accept Josh Richardson’s expiring $12.2 million contract, along with the $27.5 million owed to Doug McDermott through 2023-24. LA might be able to do this for a single first, but its low leverage position may preclude reasonable protections.
If Los Angeles is more generous with their draft currency, perhaps it could lead to Jakob Poeltl filling their need in center. Without him, the Lakers would receive a trade exception of $21.1 million, large enough to acquire Turner in a separate deal. LA would still get an $11.7 million trade exception with Poeltl.
Jordan Clarkson, Malik Beasley from Utah
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The Utah Jazz are among the best teams in the NBA on record, but few expect that to last. After dealing Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert in the offseason, the Jazz are supposed to be tanking. If they keep winning, drop them to continue on this list.
But if Utah decides to focus on development, it could offer the Lakers Jordan Clarkson and Malik Beasley. The Lakers would likely have interest in Lauri Markkanen, Jarred Vanderbilt or Kelly Olynyk, but Utah is more likely to offer aging veterans Mike Conley and Rudy Gay.
If the Lakers can get depth from the Jazz for a single first, maybe that’s a viable path. Unless some of Utah’s younger players can be had, the potential haul shouldn’t be worth multiple first-rounders.
Rozier and Hayward of Charlotte
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Would Charlotte Hornets president Michael Jordan favor Westbrook as a Jordan Brand athlete? The Pacers and Spurs would probably try to buy Westbrook out if they traded with the Lakers, but the Hornets could be a rare team that could consider Westbrook’s value as a player.
That might be a Lakers dream. Closer to reality, the Hornets don’t tank. Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward are their top performers. Others like Kelly Oubre Jr. and Mason Plumlee could also help the Lakers, but the Hornets aren’t likely to rush into a roster-thinning move.
If Charlotte embraces the pursuit of Victor Wembanyama, then perhaps it would move Hayward, whose contract may not please the Lakers. But he would be a clear talent upgrade, along with Rozier. But that opportunity may not develop until closer to the trade deadline and may cost the Lakers both first-rounders.
Kyrie Irving (sooner or later)
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The Lakers were interested in acquiring Kyrie Irving from the Brooklyn Nets and would do so if he became available again. So far, the Nets (1-2) have survived the offseason turmoil of Kevin Durant’s trade demand. But LA certainly has an eye or two on that situation.
If the franchises want to help each other out of disappointing situations, there may be a deal to be made. But that may not be likely until closer to the deadline. Irving will certainly stand on the Lakers’ free agent list if a trade is not in the cards.
The Lakers may have $31-35 million in cap space, but that won’t be enough to max out Irving next season. However, it could be enough if Irving’s market is soft because of his mercurial personality. The Irving possibility may lead LA to disregard some of the offers listed above, unless they are for expiring contracts. That would mean no Hayward, Rozier or Hield if the Lakers identified Irving in free agency as the priority.
Whether they should is another story. But that is the theme for all these possible purposes. The Lakers are likely picking from a list of questionable options.
Would Waiting Be Best?
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The Lakers can find a deal that improves their roster from bad to mediocre or even good. But how many realistic trades would make them great? Is any move that doesn’t result in the Lakers joining the elite worth it?
On the other hand, any team with James and Davis shouldn’t be that far from contention—except for this squad and last year’s. The Lakers may be in a bad position in October and November, but rushing to get a deal done can cause longer-term problems. What would be the point if they gave up two first-round picks and didn’t become a major force in the Western Conference?
If the Lakers can hold on through December and January, opportunities could increase as newly signed free agents become eligible for trades. Wait might be best, though the season could be over if the Lakers fall too far from contention.
Additionally, if the Lakers make a two-, three- or four-for-one trade, others on the roster beyond Westbrook should go. The only trade-eligible players on regular contracts include Davis, Patrick Beverley, Austin Reaves, Wenyen Gabriel, Max Christie and Kendrick Nunn. Others may be cut outright to make roster space, such as Matt Ryan, whose salary is non-guaranteed.
Finally, in any of the deals, the Lakers may want to try to rope in the Phoenix Suns in a multi-team trade to add Jae Crowder, who is away from the team, hoping for a trade.