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Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs came close to big Russell Westbrook trade

The Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs almost had a trade for Russell Westbrook until pick protections became an issue before the season.

Austin Konenski
NBA: Detroit Pistons at Los Angeles Lakers
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers have brought former MVP point guard Russell Westbrook off the bench as of late and it has been a solid situation for the team. However, this almost did not happen as trade talks between Los Angeles and another team were close.

According to HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto, the Lakers and San Antonio Spurs discussed a trade involving Westbrook before the regular season began; however, Los Angeles was unwilling to remove protections on a first-round pick.

The proposed trade by Los Angeles would have sent Westbrook and a lottery-protected first-round pick to San Antonio for Josh Richardson and Doug McDermott. The Spurs wanted the first-round pick to be unprotected but were met with a refusal from the Lakers.

Related: Detroit Pistons, Los Angeles Lakers keeping tabs on Miles Bridges

Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs almost swung deal, evaluating the decision to stall trade talks

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Los Angeles Lakers
Nov 18, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook (0) reacts against the Detroit Pistons during the second half at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers and Spurs were close to a Westbrook trade but it seemed to fall apart when Los Angeles was unwilling to move its stance on the lottery-protected first-round pick. Would the Spurs have Westbrook right now if the Lakers decided to remove the potential protections?

The answer might be surprising. San Antonio reportedly wanted the unprotected first-round pick for taking on Westbrook’s salary with the expectation that it would waive the former MVP.

As Scotto stated in the article, the Lakers refused to change the offer, and trade talks stalled. In fact, it also said that some executives believe Los Angeles will continue with Westbrook if his production off the bench remains at this level.

The point guard is averaging 15.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 7.7 assists while shooting 40.6% from the field and 33.3% from the three-point line in 14 games this season. The duo that Los Angeles could have acquired is not playing as well but maybe it would have been a better fit.

These are the following stat lines for Richardson and McDermott this season.

  • Josh Richardson stats (2022): 10.2 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 3.0 APG, 40.4% field, 36.3% 3pt
  • Doug McDermott stats (2022): 9.6 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 1.2 APG, 45.5% field, 40.5% 3pt

Both players are not playing the same amount of minutes as Westbrook so their statistics are down compared to his statistics; however, they are better three-point shooters than him this season.

The Lakers are the worst three-point shooting team in the league at 31.2% so it would have been a needed boost. The only downside would have been if Los Angeles struggled during the year that it would have lost its unprotected first-round pick.

The trade came down to the protections of that pick and it changed a lot of narratives for the 2022-’23 season. It might have been a missed opportunity for the Spurs and the right decision by the Lakers.