Russell Westbrook’s run with the Los Angeles Lakers continues to be a noisy affair, fueling speculations over the 2017 NBA MVP’s future.
Westbrook averages 10.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists through the first three games of the 2022-23 season. The 33-year-old playmaker has notably been turning the ball over at a lower rate, registering a career-low 1.7 turnovers per game — in addition to 2.0 steals, proving the guard has also been more attentive on defense.
On the other hand, Westbrook’s offense has been atrocious. The former Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets star shoots 28.9% from the field and a shocking 8.3% from beyond the arc despite attempting more 3-pointers (4.0) per night than last season (3.4).
Westbrook’s struggles have had an impact on the Lakers offense as opposing teams have been leaving him wide open on the perimeter and clogging the paint instead. Also, his shot selection hugely contributed to L.A.’s slip-up in the recent loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Combined with L.A.’s 0-3 start to the season, Westbrook’s form has inevitably brought back trade rumors. The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reports the Lakers are expected to reengage in negotiations with the Utah Jazz over a possible deal that would send the guard to the rebuilding Western Conference team:
Utah has been connected to the Lakers for months, too. League sources say that before the Jazz sent Bojan Bogdanovic to the Pistons, the Lakers offered Westbrook, a future first-round pick, and second-rounders for Bogdanovic and others. Sources expect the Lakers and Jazz to resume talks later in the season with some combination of other players discussed. (Utah has Jordan Clarkson, Mike Conley, and Rudy Gay—three veterans who can all shoot.)
The Jazz had a surprisingly good first week of the season, starting off with a 3-0 record before chalking up their first loss against the Houston Rockets on Monday. Jordan Clarkson has been Utah’s second-best scorer behind Lauri Markkanen, averaging 18.5 points per game.
Notably, Clarkson is shooting 40.6% for 3 on a whooping 8.0 attempts per game. Rudy Gay has also been red-hot from beyond the arc, making 45.5% of his triples and averaging 5.8 points per game in a limited role.
However, Mike Conley is shooting a career-low 27.3% from deep, chipping in 9.8 points per night.
The Lakers are in desperate need of shooting. Making just 21.2% of their field goal attempts from downtown, the Purple and Gold are not only this season’s worst shooting team but will also register the worst shooting performance since the Washington Bullets in 1990-91 if they keep knocking down triples at a similar rate.
Lakers target Hornets & Spurs players in potential Westbrook trade
The Lakers are reportedly keeping tabs on some other players they pursued in the preseason, including San Antonio Spurs sharpshooter Josh Richardson and Charlotte Hornets playmaker Terry Rozier.
L.A. is understood to be holding Rozier “in high regard,” but it’s unclear whether the Hornets will be interested in parting with their star during the season, particularly after starting 2022-23 with a 2-1 record.
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