As the Utah Jazz determine their next steps after talks on a Donovan Mitchell trade broke down, Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook could now be on the team’s radar as they head into a potential rebuild.
Los Angeles has sought a trade partner to take Westbrook since midway through the 2021-’22 season, hoping to offload the contract and a player who never fit the team. Speculation about a potential trade ramped up even more after the Lakers acquired Patrick Beverley, who has a history of clashes with the former NBA MVP.
Training camp is now closing in with both the Lakers and Jazz trying to find deals that are in the team’s best interest this season and on the years ahead. It now appears that the two teams could be a match for a potential deal, one that could have a significant impact on the upcoming season.
- Russell Westbrook stats (2021-22): 18.5 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 7.1 APG, 44% shooting, 30% 3-point
During an appearance on the HoopsHype podcast, Jovan Buha of The Athletic shared that the Jazz and Indiana Pacers are the two most likely landing spots for Westbrook based on conversations from around the league. As of now, Utah seems like the favorite to land the former All-Star point guard.
The motivation for Utah is obvious as executive Danny Ainge is attempting to rebuild the team by collecting as many quality draft assets as possible. Taking the same approach as he did with the Boston Celtics, the Jazz see an opportunity to take a short-term hit by absorbing Westbrook’s contract in exchange for potentially valuable draft picks.
While specifics weren’t provided on the type of deal Utah could make with Los Angeles, there was also an update on where things stand between the Lakers and Pacers.
Latest on potential Russell Westbrook, Myles Turner trade
Both teams have been connected in NBA trade rumors for months with Indiana shopping center Myles Turner around the league. Unsurprisingly, per Buha, the framework of any deal between the Lakers and Pacers would involve a swap of Westbrook for Turner and shooting guard Buddy Hield.
From an on-court perspective, the move makes the most sense for Los Angeles. Hield remains one of the best perimeter shooters in the NBA and would directly address a weakness that haunted this team the past two years. Meanwhile, Turner is an above-average defender and would be a massive upgrade at center for Los Angeles.
However, the sticking point remains Indiana’s insistence on receiving two first-round picks back from Los Angeles and that is a price the Lakers aren’t willing to meet yet.
“There are several permutations there with Indiana where it could be Myles Turner and Buddy Hield together or one of the two…I’ve heard the Lakers are still reluctant to include that second first-round pick. Maybe that’s something that changes closer to training camp.”The Athletic’s Jovan Buha on a potential Russell Westbrook trade with Indiana Pacers
For now, Los Angeles could put its talks with Indiana off to the side and engage in negotiations with the Jazz. While the return might not be quite as strong, it’s possible the Jazz are more willing to absorb Westbrook’s contract than the Pacers.
While Westbrook’s teammates continue to praise him publicly, the expectation remains that he won’t be a member of the Lakers for much longer.