Sunday, June 11

Trade rumor rankings: Anthony Davis, Donovan Mitchell and more

Lakers fans may not want to read this, but according to Russell Westbrook, his hope is to run it back next season in Los Angeles:

Westbrook wants to run it back and see what the Lakers could do with improved health. “That’s the plan, but nothing is promised,” Russ said. “Like I said all season long: you gotta play the cards you’re dealt. Yes — we want to be able to see what that looks like, what that entails over the course of an 82-game season. But we’re not sure if that’s guaranteed neither. So, I just hope that we have a chance to be able to do something in the future.”

The odds of that happening are slim, of course, as the Lakers will undoubtedly be shopping their expensive, aging point guard this summer in hopes of upgrading the roster around James and Davis.

Still, according to reports, James isn’t getting out of this totally scot-free, as Bleacher Report said this week that some of the blame internally in Los Angeles is falling at James’ feet for pressuring the team to trade for the former league MVP:

The buzz around the league suggests general manager Rob Pelinka has another year to get the Lakers back on track. The blame internally appears to be focused on injuries, Russell Westbrook and LeBron James for pressuring the team to trade for Westbrook.

Tough to totally blame James for that, as Rob Pelinka and Co. could have simply told the four-time MVP ‘no’ and proceeded with trying to acquire Buddy Hield or DeMar DeRozan.

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Regardless, according to Stein, the Lakers will have more options to trade Westbrook this summer, as the Charlotte Hornets, with an expensive couple of contracts of their own, could be a suitor for the triple-double machine:

Charlotte has been increasingly mentioned by league insiders as a team to watch on the Westbrook front. All-Star guard LaMelo Ball is firmly ensconced as the Hornets’ face of the franchise and on-the-ball star, but one scenario making the rounds is a belief that the Hornets could emerge with Westbrook interest in the name of creating some financial flexibility. Gordon Hayward has two seasons left on a four-year, $120 million contract and has appeared in only 49 of Charlotte’s 79 games this season. Terry Rozier has performed well this season, with an above-average PER of 17.36, but next season is Year 1 of a four-year, $97 million extension.

Stein also mentioned the potential of L.A. re-opening talks with the Houston Rockets on a Westbrook-for-John Wall swap, as well as the Lakers now having their 2029 first-round pick to use as a sweetener as avenues for the purple-and-gold franchise to move on from Westbrook:

The Lakers gain the ability to trade an additional future first-round pick in 2029 in July after having only the 2027 first to shop at the deadline, which increases their optionality with Houston or any other potential trade partner. It’s also conceivable that the Rockets, plenty weary of their own saga with Wall, could lessen their demands (two second-rounders?) as both Wall and Westbrook enter the final year of their current contracts. Unless the Rockets think they can trade Wall elsewhere, these discussions are bound to be renewed.

Whatever route the Lakers do take, there’s no question the team is in need of a fresh start next season. Will that make trading Westbrook easy? No, but it’s something that might have to be done for the immediate betterment of the team.

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For the latest on the Russell Westbrook trade front, click here.

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