The Los Angeles Lakers turned out secretly shopping for one of their Big Three members this season.
And that is eventually the newcomer and the former league MVP in 2017, Russell Westbrook.
In the latest release by Jake Fischer, he revealed that the Lakers are indeed trying to engage in trade discussions internally to send Westbrook away – citing problems about not meshing well with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. He added that the contract of the star point guard makes the possible transaction elusive.
The trio of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook simply hasn’t blended as well as Lakers figures hoped, and Los Angeles has held internal discussions on trade scenarios for Russell Westbrook, league sources told B/R. But moving Westbrook and the two years, $91 million remaining on his contract does seem unlikely.
But some assets like Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio, Houston Rockets’ John Wall, and Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons were brought up for a Westbrook deal, but Wall is the only likely candidate that can possibly be entertained mainly due to the salary fit and the interest of the Rockets.
Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio’s salaries would match Westbrook’s pricey deal, reuniting James with a former championship counterpart. But that structure would have little interest from the Cavaliers’ side and has not yet been discussed by the two teams, sources said. Outside of Love’s large number, there are simply few players aside from John Wall, for whom Westbrook was traded to Washington last summer, who are available for trade and come close to Westbrook’s earnings.
One of those players is Ben Simmons. The Athletic reported Los Angeles’ interest in Simmons on Monday, and Westbrook’s salary, outside of James’ and Davis’, is the only number on the Lakers’ books that can match Simmons’ own lofty deal. Even then, Westbrook is not a player on the Sixers’ list of hopeful returns, league sources told B/R, and conversations with the Lakers never developed very far.
Westbrook was acquired via a blockbuster trade with the Washington Wizards last offseason, wherein the Lakeshow delivered Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and the rights for rookie Isaiah Todd. It was his third time to be traded and the Lakers have been his fourth team in a three-year span, managing to suit up also with the Rockets in the 2019-2020 campaign.
Through 36 minutes, Westbrook is averaging 19.5 points, 8.4 assists, and 7.7 boards. If there’s truly a chemistry complication, the Lakers may have to really pull the strings quickly if an available swapping could be on their way to save their current lopsided season.