Russell Westbrook trade rumors: Lakers almost dealt star to Pacers before practice, report says

Russell Westbrook remains a member of the Los Angeles Lakers despite the team trying to trade him throughout the summer. Finding a team willing to take on the $47 million he is owed for the rest of the season was no easy task for the Lakers, especially given his lackluster play in LA last year.

However, in the days leading up to training camp Westbrook was nearly sent to the Indiana Pacers in a deal that would have netted the Lakers and Myles Turner and Buddy Hield, per The Athletic. The details:

“Vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka, owner Jeanie Buss and senior basketball adviser Kurt Rambis seriously considered sending Westbrook and the 2027 and 2029 unprotected first-round picks to the Pacers for center Myles Turner and guard Buddy Hield, sources said. They held a series of meetings in the days leading up to camp to analyze the Pacers’ potential deal from every angle, with the opinions of Hamm and Lakers executives Joey and Jesse Bass also factored into the process. conference for Pelinka and Ham as the discussion continued.”

However, as The Athletic reports, Pelinka ultimately made the decision to “stay patient” with Westbrook to see if he can find his stride with the Lakers or if a better deal comes along to trade him. But this wasn’t the first time the Lakers sought to trade Westbrook this summer. When the Brooklyn Nets were reaching disaster levels when Kevin Durant requested a trade and Kyrie Irving was also looking for a way out, the Lakers were heavily rumored to be trying to land Irving in a trade for Westbrook. The Nets never seriously considered taking Westbrook in a deal, so this was more of a one-sided interest.

Other rumored trades included sending the former league MVP to the Utah Jazz in exchange for Bojan Bogdanovic, but he was eventually dealt to the Detroit Pistons recently. The Athletic also reports that the Lakers tried to lure Jordan Clarkson away from the Jazz for Westbrook, but interestingly enough, Utah owner Ryan Smith reportedly has no interest in parting ways with him despite the team entering a reconstruction.

In the end, the most viable option to trade Westbrook was with the Pacers, with whom the Lakers have been in contact all summer discussing different frameworks. Some packages simply included sending one of Turner or Hield to the Lakers for Westbrook and draft compensation. There was even talk of a third team coming in, namely the Memphis Grizzlies, who would take one of LA’s prospects in the first round and in exchange send two first round picks to the Pacers to fulfill that request. However, the Lakers and Pacers were never able to come to a solid deal on a trade package, and the Lakers backed down, which was somewhat of an issue in their attempt to trade Westbrook.

LA has been adamant thus far about not trading both future first-round picks in an effort to preserve assets for the future. But since the Lakers have LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the roster to compete for a championship, it doesn’t make sense for Pelinka and the rest of the Los Angeles brass to be stingy with their picks. There are only so many more years that James will play at an elite level, and the Lakers would be wise to try to maximize that opportunity as much as possible.

But for now, it looks like LA will try to give Westbrook another chance to find his place on this team before trading him. They could always reconsider before the trade deadline in February. Or maybe they just finish out the final year of Westbrook’s contract and cut ties at the end of the season, giving them more financial flexibility to make a slew of free agents in the summer of 2023. We’ll just have to wait and see how that plays out in Los Angeles, because with the Lakers not trading him, there is now a lot of pressure on Westbrook, first-year head coach Darwin Hamm and Pelinka to make this situation work.

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