Lakers looking for upgrades, no ‘concerted effort’ to trade Russell Westbrook

Trading for Patrick Beverley will not be the Lakers’ final roster move before the start of this season. Before he signed a two-year, $97.1 million extension to stay in Los Angeles, LeBron James was “adamant” the Lakers make roster upgrades, Beverley was just the first domino.

Whether one of those dominos is a Russell Westbrook trade remains up in the air, but moving the guard is not the priority, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported in an appearance on the Rich Eisen Show.

“I would expect the Lakers to continue to look at the marketplace to make their team better, and you know, I don’t think there’s a concerted effort to move Russell Westbrook. I think the concerted effort is ‘can we make a deal with certain players on the roster with the picks that we have to improve this team.'”

The Lakers simply need to get better players around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Maybe that can come via a Westbrook trade, but the Lakers have been looking for that deal since last February before the trade deadline and have yet to find one to their liking. They may not find one before the trade deadline this coming February. Of course, that changes the Lakers become willing to throw in both of their available first-round picks, 2027 and 2029, because that’s what teams have demanded to take on Westbrook and his $47 million.

There are two trade scenarios (both can involve Westbrook) to watch. One is with Utah, which is not done dealing with Beverley. Beyond Donovan Mitchell (who likely ends up in New York, the Lakers don’t have the picks and players to get in that conversation), the Jazz have a number of veterans — Bojan Bogdanovic, Mike Conley, Malik Beasley, Jordan Clarkson — available via trade. Those are role players who would be roster upgrades for the Lakers.

The other trade scenario to watch is the much-discussed one with Indiana, where Myles Turner and Buddy Hield come to Los Angles for Westbrook and both Lakers picks, likely unprotected. That trade died because the Lakers would not include both picks.

The question for the Lakers is should they include both picks in a trade that makes them good but not contenders? That’s what the Indiana trade would do. A Lakers rotation that starts Beverley, Hield, LeBron, Davis, and Turner and brings Austin Reaves, Lonnie Walker IV, Thomas Bryant and others off the bench is good — playoff good. Maybe second round of the postseason good (depending on the matchup). But not title contender good. Is that worth giving up every remaining pick the Lakers control this decade?

Look for the Lakers to make more trades, some of which could be surprising. But at this point, a Westbrook trade would be a real surprise.

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