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LeBron James could prove key in potential Russell Westbrook for John Wall trade

Vincent Frank

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers have fallen on hard times recently. The 2019-20 NBA champions sit at 26-29 on the season and in ninth place in the Western Conference. They are coming off an ugly blowout loss to the Milwaukee Bucks at home and have lost 10 of 15.

The backdrop here is a downright terrible peformance from Russell Westbrook in his first season with his hometown Lakers. How bad has it got? Head coach Frank Vogel has benched Westbrook in the fourth quarter of multiple games over the past couple weeks. Meanwhile, Lakers fan continue to boo the former NBA MVP on a never-ending loop.

With mere hours to go before the NBA trade deadline, speculation is heating up that Westbrook could potentially be dealt to the Washington Wizards for John Wall. Said chatter has existed for some time now. However, the rumors now directly link LeBron James to a potential trade of his newish teammate.

“The Los Angeles Lakers are unlikely to trade Russell Westbrook at the deadline. The caveat: If LeBron James decides that fellow Klutch Sports client John Wall could be a better fit and is willing to push extremely hard for Westbrook’s exit, the Lakers might consider a deal with the Houston Rockets.”

Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus on James’ role in a potential Westbrook trade (February 9, 2022)

Related: Los Angeles Lakers trade rumors

LeBron James as Los Angeles Lakers “general manager”

russell westbrook trade, lebron james lakers
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Dating back to both of his stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers, King James has played a large role in player personnel matters. That included Cleveland trading former No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins as part of a package for Kevin Love ahead of the 2014-15 season.

We’ve seen this on a never-ending loop throughout his career, most recently James pushing for Los Angeles to acquire the aforementioned Russell Wesbrook from the Washington Wizards last summer.

The question now becomes whether James believes Wall would be a better fit than this season’s iteration of a watered-down Westbrook.

“I want to help AD. I want to help Russ. AD want to help me help Russ and Russ wants to help us,” LeBron James told reporters following Tuesday’s loss to the Bucks. “Lately, Russ hasn’t felt like he’s had an opportunity or with an opportunity given, he’s hasn’t helped us as much as he’d like. We haven’t done a great job of helping him.”

  • Russell Westbrook stats (2021-22): 18.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 7.6 APG, 44% shooting, 30% three-point

Prior to sitting out Wednesday night’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers with a back injury, Russ had struggled big time shooting the ball in recent outings. That includes averaging just 10.3 points on 28% shooting over the past four games.

As for John Wall, he has not suited up this season for Houston as the team goes with a youth movement. There was talk about him returning to the court earlier in the campaign, but the two sides could not come to terms on a role for the five-time All-Star.

Acquired from the Washington Wizards for Russell Westbrook ahead of the 2020-21 season, the injury-plagued Wall played pretty well in his first campaign with Houston.

  • John Wall stats (2021-21): 20.6 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 6.9 APG, 40% shooting, 32% three-point

These two names are being bandied about in connection with one another due to their contracts. Westbrook, 33, has a player option of $47.06 million next season. He’s all but guaranteed to exercise said option. As for Wall, he also has an option ($47.37 million) for next season he will exercise.

If LeBron James deems Wall as a better fit, it would be all about Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka making it work with his counterpart from Houston, Rafael Stone. Previous reports suggested that the Rockets would be willing to take on (and buy out) Westbrook’s contract if the Lakers offered up their 2027 first-round pick.