AP Photo/Ashley Landis
Trade talks between the Los Angeles Lakers and Indiana Pacers featuring Russell Westbrook, Myles Turner and Buddy Hield are reportedly “dead.”
Bob Kravitz of The Athletic reported the update Friday, noting the discussions reached a “standstill” and will only be revived if the Lakers are willing to add a second first-round draft pick to their offer.
It’s much the same story that’s been painted about other Westbrook trade rumors as of late.
Last week, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reported conversations between the Lakers and Brooklyn Nets centered around the 2016-17 NBA MVP and Kyrie Irving also stalled because of LA’s reluctance to include more than a single first-rounder.
The expectation in that case is it would take one first to the Nets and another to an organization willing to take on the final season of the Lakers guard’s five-year, $206.8 million contract as part of a three-team swap, per Scotto.
One way or another, it sounds like LA has two choices: trade two first-round selections or go into another campaign with a core trio of Westbrook, LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The latter route seems ripe for disaster as the Lakers attempt to bounce back from a nightmarish, injury-riddled 2021-22 season where they missed the playoffs with a 33-49 record.
Westbrook and James both attended a recent NBA Summer League game but made headlines for making no effort to communicate amid the trade speculation.
With LeBron a potential free agent after the upcoming season, the Lakers are likely staring down a situation where they must appease him and attempt to move back toward title contention or face the reality of a potentially painful rebuild beginning next summer.
The proposed Pacers trade made a ton of theoretical sense. The arrival of Turner would allow Davis to play his preferred role at the 4 rather than logging a lot of key minutes at center, while Hield could bring a much-needed outside shooting boost to the roster.
James would serve as the de facto point guard of a lineup also featuring Davis, Turner, Hield and Talen Horton-Tucker or Kendrick Nunn. Lonnie Walker IV and Austin Reaves would lead the reserve group.
Whether that would be enough to get the Lakers back to the championship level they reached in 2020 is up for debate, but it would at least represent a fresh outlook after last season’s disaster.
In the end, it would be a surprise if LA allows one first-round pick to prevent it from making significant roster changes before the new campaign gets underway in October despite the resistance so far.