The idea of much maligned Lakers guard Russell Westbrook starting next season in purple and gold seems far-fetched. Westbrook wasn’t the root of all of the Lakers problems, but it’s clear he doesn’t want to be in LA come this fall.
On top of the awkward on-court fit with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Westbrook eluded to the pair of superstars not backing him up in the locker room during the Lakers 33-win season that saw them miss the playoffs. Trouble could be brewing in the Lakers locker room.
The Lakers will aggressively explore potential trades for Westbrook and his $47M expiring deal. In the last few weeks, hypothetical trades with the Charlotte Hornets and Indiana Pacers have gained some traction in the proverbial rumor mill.
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In one iteration of a potential trade, the Lakers would receive Hornets forward Gordon Hayward and guard Terry Rozier in exchange for Westbrook and additional salary filler.
Rozier could be a nice addition alongside LeBron, but Hayward has struggled with injuries in the past few years. There’s also been reports that the Lakers aren’t interested in Hayward based on his penchant for injuries.
Which is why sending Westbrook to Indiana for Buddy Hield and Malcolm Brogdon might be the better option of the two scenarios.
A hallmark of successful LeBron teams is quality three-point shooting. Brogdon, the 2017 rookie of the year, has shot 37.6% from beyond the arc in his six-year NBA career.
Brogdon can help space the floor and punish teams that commit multiple defenders to guard LeBron when he drives to the rim. He’s also a willing passer (5.9 APG this season) who can also create his own shot.
Like Hayward, Brogdon did battle injuries throughout this past season. He played in just 36 games due to recurring achilles soreness.
If healthy, Brogdon is the exact type of third wheel that can thrive next to LeBron and AD.
Perhaps this offseason the Lakers can finally land the player they almost traded for last summer. The 29-year-old Hield, like Brogdon, would give the Lakers a premium three-point option who is comfortable playing off the ball.
After being traded from the Kings to the Pacers at the deadline, Hield averaged 18.2 points per game and shot 36.2% from three. The former sixth overall pick in the 2016 draft owns a career three-point percentage of 39.8%.
Its not out of the question that Hield could shoot over 40% on a LeBron led offense.
Both Brogdon and Hield have multiple years left on their current contracts. Brogdon is set to earn approximately $22.5M over the next three seasons while Hield is owed about $20M through the 2024 season.
It would greatly reduce the Lakers future salary cap flexibility, but a potential Pacers trade is worth it if it vaults LA back into title contention for LeBron James’ age 38 season.