The Los Angeles Lakers likely didn’t try their ultimate best to get Russell Westbrook out via trade over the summer but they did enough to let him and everyone else know that the guard is no longer wanted. Now, it appears Russ doesn’t want to be in L.A either.
The 2020 NBA champions had talks with the Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers, Charlotte Hornets and the Utah Jazz before the start of the season, but none of the discussions bore fruit and Westbrook is still playing in a Lakers uniform, very poorly at that.
The Lakers were 0-3 to start the season at the time of writing and bookies working on affairs where California sports betting is concerned wouldn’t have had them as one of their favorites for the title.
Things not have improved for LeBron and Co. on the back of the deal that saw Westbrook join the Lakers and, according to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, the options the Lakers considered during the offseason are still available. Benching Westbrook for the rest of the season is also said to be an option for Darvin Ham.
Per O’Connor, the Lakers are expected to revisit trade talks with the Jazz but business with the Pacers is still something they could look to do and they will explore a trade involving Myles Turner and Buddy Hield should it come to that.
Talks between the teams remain on hold but both players seem like they should provide significant upgrades, Hield in the shooting department and Turner when it comes to rim protection depth, considering Anthony Davis’ history with injuries. The Lakers could have gotten this deal done in the summer but were very indecisive and never ended up pulling the trigger.
The Jazz have been linked to the Lakers for several months and, according to league sources, Los Angeles offered Westbrook, a first-round pick, and multiple second-round picks for Bojan Bogdanovic before they sent the latter to the Detroit Pistons. The Lakers are now thought to be set for return talks with the Jazz that would see other players become the subject of trade affairs.
“When that time comes, Los Angeles will explore trade combinations with the Pacers that involve center Myles Turner and/or wing Buddy Hield,” O’Connor wrote recently. “Those talks are currently on hold, but Turner and Hield would both add much-needed shooting, and Turner would provide rim-protection depth behind the oft-injured Davis.
“Utah has been connected to the Lakers for months, too. League sources say that before the Jazz sent Bojan Bogdanovic to the Pistons, the Lakers offered Westbrook, a future first-round pick, and second-rounders for Bogdanovic and others. Sources expect the Lakers and Jazz to resume talks later in the season with some combination of other players discussed. (Utah has Jordan Clarkson, Mike Conley, and Rudy Gay—three veterans who can all shoot.)”
With Bogdanovic no longer their player, the Jazz don’t have as much leverage and a potential deal will probably be a lot harder to reach. The Lakers were quite close to reaching a deal with Utah but circumstances have changed since then and there’s no package they could offer that would be worth two first-round draft picks. That isn’t to say the teams won’t be able to come up with something that works for both of them.
What’s unknown, though, is when the teams might head back to the table. The Lakers have been insisting they’re patient but are still yet to win a game this season and have a rather tough schedule over the course of their next 12 games. They’re probably going to run out of patience soon and it’s something that will hand other teams the edge in negotiations.
Meanwhile, Hornets point guard Terry Rozier has emerged as a reported trade target for the Lakers. While he isn’t the big wing defender L.A needs right now, Rozier can definitely provide the Lakers with some much-needed firepower on the other end of the ball. The former Celtics breakout can shoot and create shots for himself, but he is also just as comfortable playing without the ball.
“Charlotte’s Terry Rozier emerged as a trade target for the Lakers in the offseason and their interest in him remains high, multiple sources tell The Athletic,” Shams Charania writes.
“The Lakers and Hornets held discussions about a possible three- or four-team trade during the summer, and hold him in high regard among their possible trade possibilities, but the dynamic Hornets guard’s availability will be entirely predicated on the franchise’s direction for the future and its play as the season goes on. Despite LaMelo Ball being sidelined with a Grade 2 ankle sprain and Rozier recently suffering his own sprained ankle, the Hornets and coach Steve Clifford are off to a 2-1 start in the Eastern Conference.”