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NBA coaching camps are opening subsequent month, and Russell Westbrook continues to be on the Los Angeles Lakers.
New head coach Darvin Ham has stated all the precise issues about how he’ll get probably the most out of Westbrook, the Lakers’ stars have dedicated to making it work and a 12 months’s expertise collectively ought to theoretically lead to higher outcomes, proper?
No matter what folks in and across the group could say, there’s merely no approach the Lakers can begin the 2022-23 season with the 33-year-old on the roster.
Moving Westbrook and his expiring $47.1 million contract ought to be doable, even when it means parting with future first-round picks and/or together with among the younger expertise on the roster.
These Lakers aren’t shut to competing for a title, as this roster wants extra taking pictures, protection and depth round LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The excellent news? There are a handful of groups on the market that might use a monetary reset, one Westbrook’s large expiring wage would offer. Getting draft compensation again would additionally assist enhance future flexibility for these franchises.
All of those trades would contain the Lakers giving up at the least one future first-round decide, one thing the franchise has been extraordinarily hesitant to do. With James set to flip 38 in December and in a position to go away as a free agent subsequent summer time, a message has to be despatched that Los Angeles will eternally do what it takes to win so long as he is nonetheless on the roster.
Each of the next trades was designed with the expectation that the franchise receiving Westbrook would somewhat purchase him out or probably flip him in one other commerce than use him on the court docket in 2022-23. Thus, the first objective of those trades is to enhance every group’s outlook for 2023-24 and past.
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Los Angeles Lakers Receive: SF Gordon Hayward, C Mason Plumlee
Charlotte Hornets Receive: PG Russell Westbrook, 2027 first-round decide (unprotected), 2023 second-round decide
Why the Hornets Say Yes
Hayward simply hasn’t been in a position to keep wholesome since arriving in Charlotte, taking part in in 44 and 49 video games in every of his two seasons.
He’s nonetheless owed $61.6 million over the subsequent two years, and swapping Hayward and Plumlee for Westbrook would open up a further $31.5 million in cap house subsequent offseason whereas LaMelo Ball continues to be on his rookie deal.
Plumlee is on an expiring contract and virtually actually will not be re-signed after the Hornets chosen facilities (Mark Williams and Kai Jones) within the first spherical of every of the previous two drafts.
Why the Lakers Say Yes
Hayward is an ideal match on the wing for the Lakers, as he can play on or off the ball and be a secondary playmaker subsequent to LeBron James. He’s additionally made 40.2 p.c of his three-pointers the previous two seasons.
The damage considerations are actual, which is why the Lakers solely sacrifice considered one of their future firsts right here. With two years left on his contract, Los Angeles ought to have the option to shed his wage subsequent season if mandatory.
Plumlee is a stable starter who will assist preserve Anthony Davis at energy ahead and is an especially underrated passer who ought to have the option to discover James on cuts to the basket a number of occasions a sport.
New-Look Lakers Lineup: PG Kendrick Nunn, SG Gordon Hayward, SF LeBron James, PF Anthony Davis, C Mason Plumlee
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Los Angeles Lakers Receive: SG Tim Hardaway Jr., PF Davis Bertans, SF Reggie Bullock
Dallas Mavericks Receive: PG Russell Westbrook, SG Austin Reaves, 2027 and 2029 first-round picks (unprotected)
Why the Mavs Say Yes
The Mavericks, even after letting Jalen Brunson stroll for nothing this offseason, are $14.6 million over the luxury-tax line. Their bloated cap sheet is crammed with position gamers who’re being paid above their precise price, not to point out newly acquired huge man Christian Wood, who will want a brand new contract subsequent summer time.
Pair Dallas’ tight monetary scenario and lack of Brunson with groups just like the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets presumably getting again to full well being, and the Mavs—the No. 4 seed and a convention finalist final season—could possibly be at risk of slipping down the Western Conference standings.
Losing Hardaway, Bertans and Bullock could damage the Mavs’ possibilities at competing for a title in 2023, however it additionally opens up $45.4 million in cap house subsequent summer time, which means Dallas would have room to signal a max-level free agent to pair with Doncic .
The Mavs additionally decide up a future first as commerce ammo and get a younger participant in Reaves to insert into the rotation to assist make up for the lack of Hardaway. A core of Doncic, Wood, Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, JaVale McGee, Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell continues to be good and now has a much better long-term outlook.
Swapping three gamers for 2 (and then presumably shopping for out Westbrook) would open up a further pair of roster spots to add free brokers or be aggressive within the buyout market later within the season.
Why the Lakers Say Yes
This is a pleasant inflow of expertise for the Lakers, even when Bertans’ contract (three years, $49 million with an early termination choice) is fairly brutal.
Hardaway is a 6’5″ taking pictures guard who’s averaged 15.7 factors and shot 38.1 p.c from three over his previous three seasons. Bullock is the proper 3-and-D wing this Lakers group desperately wants, and Bertans will be one of many NBA’s finest floor-spacers when wholesome.
Giving up Reaves and two first-round picks stings, however these are ideal-fitting items for LA to plug in.
New-Look Lakers Lineup: PG Kendrick Nunn, SG Tim Hardaway Jr., SF Reggie Bullock, PF LeBron James, C Anthony Davis
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Los Angeles Lakers Receive: C Myles Turner, SG Buddy Hield, PG TJ McConnell
Indiana Pacers Receive: PG Russell Westbrook, SG Austin Reaves, 2027 and 2029 first-round picks (unprotected)
Why the Pacers Say Yes
These two groups have already mentioned an identical take care of Turner and Hield headed to Los Angeles, one which was nixed after the Pacers requested for 2 first-round picks, in accordance to The Athletic’s Bob Kravitz.
If Indiana desires to safe each the 2027 and 2029 first-rounders from Los Angeles and clear some further cap house, McConnell ought to be included within the deal as nicely.
This commerce would open up a further $28 million in cap house for the Pacers subsequent summer time and make Daniel Theis the roster’s highest-paid participant at simply $9.1 million. That’s an unbelievable quantity of economic flexibility for a group that already options some younger core items and would get a pair of additional first-rounders to use sooner or later.
Why the Lakers Say Yes
This might be the most effective return of general expertise the Lakers might get for Westbrook, even when it means giving up each eligible future picks.
Hield averaged 18.2 factors, 5.1 rebounds and 4.8 assists following his commerce to Indiana final season and is a lifetime 39.8 p.c shooter from three.
Turner would give Los Angeles the most effective defensive frontcourt in all of basketball subsequent to Anthony Davis, and his three-point taking pictures capability retains everybody unfold out on offense.
McConnell is the proper backup level guard together with his passing and defensive capability, somebody who can run the offense when LeBron James wants a breather.
New-Look Lakers Lineup: PG Kendrick Nunn, SG Buddy Hield, SF LeBron James, PF Anthony Davis, C Myles Turner
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Los Angeles Lakers Receive: PF Julius Randle, G/F Evan Fournier
New York Knicks Receive: PG Russell Westbrook, 2027 first-round decide (top-5 protected)
Why the Knicks Say Yes
According to NBA insider Marc Stein, the Knicks would “discover situations to commerce away Julius Randle” if they’ll purchase Donovan Mitchell in a commerce, with Westbrook’s expiring deal wanting like a chief choice with which to accomplish that.
Why cease there, although?
Fournier continues to be owed $36.9 million over the subsequent two years with a $19 million group choice in 2024-25. If the Knicks have been to purchase Mitchell and would presumably begin RJ Barrett at small ahead, Fournier turns into a invaluable backup in New York.
Moving Randle and Fournier for Westbrook would create $44.6 million in cap aid in 2023. If a commerce certainly goes down for Mitchell, he would get an opportunity to recruit one other star to New York to be a part of a core with Barrett, Jalen Brunson, Mitchell Robinson and others.
This might additionally flip right into a three-team deal, with the long run first from the Lakers used to assist the Knicks purchase Mitchell.
Why the Lakers Say Yes
Randle and Fournier are overpaid, however can nonetheless be high quality starters within the NBA.
Randle is only a 12 months faraway from successful Most Improved Player whereas averaging 24.1 factors, 10.2 rebounds, 6.0 assists and taking pictures 41.1 p.c from three, whereas Fournier (14.1 factors on 38.9 p.c from three final season) ought to thrive as a floor-spacer off passes from LeBron James.
Given the amount of cash remaining on every of their contracts, the Lakers solely sacrifice the 2027 decide and get to preserve the 2029 decide.
Randle is not essentially the most effective match with this roster in his return to LA, however he is arguably the most effective participant the Lakers can really get in return for Westbrook.
New-Look Lakers Lineup: PG Kendrick Nunn, SG Evan Fournier, SF LeBron James, PF Julius Randle, C Anthony Davis
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Los Angeles Lakers Receive: F Doug McDermott, G/F Josh Richardson
San Antonio Spurs Receive: PG Russell Westbrook, 2027 first-round decide (unprotected), 2023 second-round decide, 2025 second-round decide
Why the Spurs Say Yes
San Antonio is clearly rebuilding following the Dejounte Murray commerce. With this deal, he can accumulate three further draft picks and improve his possibilities at projected No. 1 choice Victor Wembanyama.
Swapping Westbrook’s expiring deal for McDermott’s helps create $13.8 million of further cap house subsequent summer time when the Spurs might grow to be big-time patrons in free company—Keldon Johnson’s contract will probably be their solely assured wage of greater than $5.8 million.
San Antonio might embody Jakob Poeltl within the deal and ask for the Lakers’ 2029 first-round decide as nicely.
Why the Lakers Say Yes
This is the most effective probability for LA to add some premier taking pictures round LeBron James and Anthony Davis, as each McDermott (42.2 p.c from three) and Richardson (41.5 p.c) shot the lights out final season.
Richardson can be a high quality defender who can change throughout a number of positions, one thing the Lakers desperately want.
As an added bonus, the Lakers do not want to make the cash match on this deal for the reason that Spurs have cap house to soak up Westbrook’s wage on this framework. The commerce would instantly save Los Angeles $21.1 million, placing them $3.9 million beneath the posh tax after paying $45.1 million in penalties final 12 months.
New-Look Lakers Lineup: PG Kendrick Nunn, SG Josh Richardson, SF Doug McDermott, PF LeBron James, C Anthony Davis