A possible Russell Westbrook trade that could be attractive to Lakers

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At this point, it seems very unlikely that Russell Westbrook will be a member of the Los Angeles Lakers next season, between his huge contract, on-the-court flaws and his documented attitude problems this season.

Unless LeBron James asks general manager Rob Pelinka to keep Westbrook and vouches for the nine-time All-Star, the Lakers will probably look to make a trade.

As of now, there are legitimate questions about whether Westbrook still has value in the minds of rival executives.

But one team, at least according to a league insider, seems to have interest in him, and a potential trade with that team could net the Lakers two players who will provide instant value.

One of them, in fact, is a player whom the team was reportedly close to trading for last summer, and if Lakers fans had their way, he would be a member of the team right now.

Via The Athletic:

“The Indiana Pacers could emerge as a potential suitor for Westbrook, rival executives believe, but any trade involving the former NBA MVP will be complicated due to his massive salary and the Lakers’ next available first-round draft pick being in 2027, which the franchise will prioritize and thus be prudent in deciding the best route with Westbrook,” wrote Shams Charania.

“The Pacers are building around Tyrese Haliburton, but rival teams expect them to be open to trade conversations around Malcolm Brogdon and Buddy Hield this offseason. Hield has two years and $40.4 million remaining on his deal while Brogdon has three years and nearly $68 million. If Indiana wants to shed future salary, could it view the Lakers and Westbrook’s expiring deal as a match?”

Brogdon and Hield could help revitalize the Lakers

As James continues to pile up more mileage, he needs to be surrounded with multiple players who can handle the ball, push the pace, score and hit the open man.

Brogdon seems to fit that description. He averaged 19.1 points and 5.8 assists per game this season, and he takes care of the ball very well, as evidenced by his 2.1 turnovers a game in 2022.

He is also regarded as a strong defender, and at 6-foot-5 and about 230 pounds, not to mention with a 6-foot-11 wingspan, Brogdon has the physical tools to bother opposing guards.

His 3-point shooting efficiency has been up and down, and he made only 31.2 percent of his attempts from downtown this season, making that a potential problem.

However, in four of his six NBA seasons, he has shot at least 38.5 percent from 3-point range.

The biggest concern with Brogdon is his durability. He hasn’t played in more than 70 games in a season since his rookie year, and the Lakers have certainly had too many injury problems the last two seasons.

Hield, of course, is someone Lakers fans have been pining for ever since the team reportedly pivoted away from trading for him at the last moment in favor of acquiring Westbrook last summer.

The 29-year-old shooting guard had an off season, only making 40.6 percent of his shots and 36.6 percent of his treys, but he did better after being traded to the Pacers by the Sacramento Kings.

In 26 games with Indiana, he shot 44.7 percent overall and 36.2 percent from downtown for a true shooting percentage of 56.3.

Hield is a bad defender, however, so the Lakers’ next coach would need to figure out a way to “hide” him on that end of the floor.

Any Westbrook trade would be hard to pull off

Trades in the NBA are always difficult, but one involving the Lakers and Westbrook would be especially difficult.

One big factor will be draft picks. Many expect any team the Lakers try to do business with to demand they part with at least one future draft pick.

L.A. can trade its 2027 and 2029 first-round picks later in the offseason, but given that James and likely Anthony Davis will be long gone by then, those picks could be very valuable at that time.

A third team could be required to consummate such a deal, which could soften the blow for the Lakers in terms of any additional capital they may have to give up to get rid of Westbrook.

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