Russell Westbrook and the Los Angeles Lakers are in one of the weirdest spaces imaginable. The team is trying to turn over a new leaf with added free agents and Darvin Ham as head coach. It would seem that they are forging a new path in an attempt to leave all the woes of the 2021-22 season in the rear-view mirror.
This is a fool’s belief. The rumored trades surrounding Westbrook started last trade deadline. Since that point, they haven’t ceased, and only intensify as the 2023 campaign begins. Ham has offered his unbridled support to Westbrook, but everyone sees the news. LeBron James and Anthony Davis both seem like they’re miles away from the standing they had last summer when this deal was arranged for Westbrook to make his way to Los Angeles.
Kyrie Irving is one of the targets on the team’s list. However, the Lakers and Brooklyn Nets are not currently engaged in negotiations, per reports. The pursuit of Irving is flanked by the Lakers’ pursuit of two familiar names, barring no deal with the Nets can come to fruition.
The Athletic’s Bob Kravitz reported that the Lakers and Pacers discussed the framework of a deal, which is now in limbo:
A trade package that would have seen the Los Angeles trade Russell Westbrook and a first-rounder to the Indiana Pacers in return for Myles Turner and Buddy Hield is currently dead, sources tell The Athletic. The Pacers want a second first-round selection added to the deal, sources say.
Kravitz goes on to say that the talks could pick back up into the right direction for both sides:
The Lakers could revitalize trade talks with the Pacers if they added a second first-round draft pick to the proposed deal. Pretty straightforward, really. That would be a first-rounder in 2027 and 2029; currently, they are offering just the 2027 pick in exchange for Turner and Hield.
Per The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Pacers join two other teams that have had discussions in taking on the All-Star:
Utah, New York and Indiana are among the teams that have discussed deals with the Lakers involving Russell Westbrook and draft capital, sources said. There appears no deal imminent in those conversations — as the overall trade market plays out over the next two months of the offseason.
It’s clear that Westbrook being on the move is closer than it’s ever been. At the same time, it’s like a package that’s stuck in transit. The delivery may eventually happen, but don’t hold your breath on it being timely. The idea and concept of a trade exist. It’s the cost that’s holding the Lakers back. The team seems to want to hold onto one of the two first round picks (2027 and 2029) currently available to them to trade. Turner and Hield have been linked to the Lakers dating back to previous seasons.
For me, it feels like the Lakers just want to know about Kyrie Irving first. The Brooklyn Nets reportedly want both their picks as well. It’s on the Lakers to pick a side, if they are indeed solid with other avenues. The Pacers have given their terms, and the Lakers cannot bypass a chance at the greater talent for something that could be less certain to contend. In some ways, it’s a good spot for the Lakers. It’s extremely early in the summer. There’s plenty of time for deals that are constructed now to be in place by the time camp starts.
Many pundits have called the Lakers’ current acquisitions underwhelming, but the front office maintains they’re not done. I say it’s an opportunity for new judgment coming soon. Today’s news is an indicator the team’s brass was not lying about their ongoing work. Fans can relax just a little bit knowing they’ll be a step above last season’s collection of contributors if the team decides to make a move on the market.