The Los Angeles Lakers’ to-do list this summer includes figuring out what the future holds for Russell Westbrook. Despite the fact that new head coach Darvin Ham said that he knows how he plans on using Westbrook during the 2022-23 campaign, the polarizing point guard has seen his name pop up in trade rumors one year after the team acquired him from the Washington Wizards.
In a new piece by Dave McMenamin of ESPN, we learned that the Lakers have been trying to figure out a potential new landing spot for Westbrook. While McMenamin confirmed a previous report from Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that the Lakers have spoke to the Brooklyn Nets, he also revealed that another team viewed as a contender to acquire Westbrook is on the table: the Indiana Pacers.
With the Lakers engaged in trade talks with the Brooklyn Nets and the Indiana Pacers in the last week — with sources telling ESPN that both scenarios involve sending Westbrook out — the positioning of James and Westbrook was notable.
Much was made of Westbrook’s appearance at the Lakers’ Summer League game on Friday evening, as he and LeBron James sat on opposite sides of the court from one another but did not publicly interact. James has, per reports, been adamant about his desire for the Lakers to acquire Kyrie Irving from the Nets, which would require sending Westbrook to Brooklyn.
As for the Pacers, their presumed deal for Westbrook would send Myles Turner and Buddy Hield — the latter of whom the team nearly acquired before pivoting to picking up Westbrook — to Los Angeles. The catch, according to Marc Stein’s latest newsletter, is that there is skepticism that the Lakers would be able to meet Indiana’s asking price.
A second source I spoke to expressed pessimism that the Lakers would have the required assets to assemble a trade in which they acquire both Hield and Myles Turner from Indiana. Various reports have described the two Pacers as prime targets for L.A. if it is unable to assemble an Irving trade construction that Brooklyn is prepared to accept.
One would assume that any sort of deal would require Westbrook and the Lakers’ two prized future first-round draft picks in 2027 and 2029, with the 9-time All-Star’s expiring contract serving more as a way to make the salaries work. There’s no word on whether or not Los Angeles could attempt to sweeten the pot by including players like Talen Horton-Tucker or Kendrick Nunn.