The Los Angeles Lakers were expected to make a Russell Westbrook trade during the 2022-23 NBA season not long ago, but the franchise’s plans seem to have changed amid the team’s recent results.
L.A. has won seven of its last nine games since starting the campaign with a 2-10 record. And Westbrook has played a major part in the Lakers’ good run, averaging 13.1 points, 8.1 assists, and 5.0 rebounds during that stint. He’s also recorded back-to-back games with no turnovers for the first time in his career.
The 34-year-old guard’s form is understood to have earned him interest from teams around the league — just a few months after the Lakers struggled to part with him in the summer. Meanwhile, Westbrook keeps being mentioned in trade rumors, with ESPN’s Zach Lowe mentioning on the “Lowe Post” podcast that L.A. has had “internal discussions” over a potential deal with the Chicago Bulls involving DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic:
“The trade I saw on Twitter was Russ and both picks, one with light protections I think, for DeRozan and Vucevic,” Lowe said. “I can tell you 100 percent for sure the Lakers have had internal discussions about that very possibility [trading for DeRozan and Vucevic] if it would ever come up. Not that they [the Lakers] would do it, let me be clear. Just, you look around the league, like any responsible team would.”
Considering the Lakers’ form in recent weeks, the front office has reportedly come up with other options to upgrade the roster besides trading Westbrook. Those include swapping Patrick Beverley and Kendrick Nunn for role players who better address the team’s needs.
Vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka seems to be preparing for the possibility of reshaping the team soon, as evidenced by waiving forward Matt Ryan earlier this week.
The Lakers are understood to have parted with Ryan to open up a roster spot ahead of Dec. 15, when players who moved places in the summer become trade-eligible again.
Lakers lean toward making smaller trade involving Beverley & Nunn
The same reports claim the Lakers are now leaning toward making a smaller move first, centered around Beverley and Nunn. That would allow L.A. to at least slightly upgrade the roster while also retaining the possibility of trading Westbrook later in the season.
Also, such a strategy could perhaps let the Purple and Gold keep at least one of their coveted future first-round picks.