The Los Angeles Lakers found themselves in a tough spot a year after trading for Russell Westbrook as it’s now likely the 2017 NBA MVP will return to L.A. for another year despite his questionable fit.
The Lakers have reportedly discussed a potential Westbrook trade with numerous teams over the summer but so far failed to find a deal that would significantly improve their roster. Over the last couple of weeks, a potential deal with the Utah Jazz is believed to have emerged as the most intriguing option from L.A.’s point of view — but still not good enough to get it across the line.
The Lakers and the Jazz have been widely reported to disagree on the extent of draft compensation that should go to Utah for absorbing Westbrook’s $47.1 million salary and sending valuable role players, like Bojan Bogdanovic, back to L.A. Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer claims the Purple and Gold have pondered including a pick swap in addition to the 2027 first-rounder to make the Westbrook trade happen but while the Jazz are flexible when it comes to the players they can move, they insist on getting two first-round picks:
“From my understanding, Utah would be open to various amount of structures, of salaries, that meet Russell Westbrook’s salary coming back — so long as they get those two picks. Again, haven’t heard the Lakers have been willing to put those two picks on the board. I have heard — I don’t know if this has been offered — but there’s at least been some type of flirtation or internal meeting on the Lakers’ side of putting a pick swap into the deal as well. So it’s a little more than first; doesn’t sound like it’s enough, though, from the Utah side of things.”
Fischer adds that any deal with the Jazz would have to include Bogdanovic — who has attracted interest from numerous NBA teams — and if the 33-year-old sharpshooter goes elsewhere, that would almost certainly mean Westbrook will start the 2022-23 season on the Lakers:
“If Utah moves Bogdanovic to another team, I personally can’t see a deal for the Lakers, a return from Utah, that makes it worth that second pick that Utah would need. I would view that as almost like the death knell of any real Russell Westbrook trade happening before the season starts because there is a market for Bogdanovic. … If a team ends up putting a legitimate first-round pick on the table, add some other stuff that’s interesting, and the salary that’s matching, I do think Bogdanovic is gonna get moved, probably before the season starts. That’s what a GM I texted exit with today, that was the timeline he gave me on his read of it. And I mean, Toronto has been pretty consistently mentioned there. The Pelicans I’ve now heard as well are a team that’s been on him. Phoenix, all in addition to the Lakers. There’s got to be more too, but those are the four teams I’ve heard from multiple people that I know.”
Previous reports claimed the New York Knicks and Dallas Mavericks have been pursuing Bogdanovic in addition to the teams mentioned above.
The Croatian would make for the perfect signing in the Lakers’ current situation. Bogdanovic would add shooting to the roster that seems to be lacking firepower from beyond the arc. Also, the forward’s contract expires next year, meaning he wouldn’t eat into L.A.’s cap space — which the franchise wants to preserve in hopes of luring in another star player during the 2023 offseason.
NBA executives believe Westbrook will stay in L.A.
Considering the Lakers’ unwillingness to give up both first-round picks they can currently trade, NBA executives around the league are understood to believe that Westbrook is likely to start the 2022-23 season with the Lakers.
L.A. reportedly wants to bring the playmaker back and try to “make the best” of the roster they currently have.
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