Lakers Rumors: Trade With Hornets Involving Russell Westbrook & Gordon Hayward Has ‘Taken Hold Among League Executives’
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

This will be an extremely important offseason for the Los Angeles Lakers as they look to right the ship after arguably the most disappointing season in franchise history. One move that is on everyone’s mind is a potential trade involving point guard Russell Westbrook.

Westbrook, of course, has a player option worth $47 million that he is almost certain to pick up, which would make him a very difficult contract to move. But there have been some teams rumored to be interested with one of them being the Charlotte Hornets, who have their own veteran on a large contract they may be looking to move.

According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, the Hornets could very well be interested in a Westbrook deal involving Gordon Hayward and others, which would ultimately give them some major salary cap room:

The idea of moving Hayward’s $30 million salary and additional contracts—such as Kelly Oubre or Mason Plumlee and a third, smaller deal—to Los Angeles for Russell Westbrook’s expiring contract has taken hold among league executives, as first reported by Marc Stein. Westbrook would be owed $47 million in 2022-23 if he picks up his player option, which would create significant financial flexibility for the Hornets in the summer of 2023.

With wing Miles Bridges set to hit restricted free agency and likely to command major money, as well as star point guard LaMelo Ball being extension eligible next summer, the Hornets are going to need to clear out some longer contracts. Having Westbrook’s $47 million expiring deal would help them achieve that needed space.

For the Lakers, the deal would be a risky one as Hayward has two more years left on his deal as opposed to Westbrook’s one. Additionally, while the talented wing has been very effective when on the court, he has struggled to stay healthy, missing at least 30 games in each of the past three seasons.

Any deal for Westbrook will be a tough one to make given the money he is owed, but a potential Hornets one could be the most appealing, especially if the Lakers are able to get a couple of other rotation players such as a Kelly Oubre, Mason Plumlee or PJ Washington, who could play serious roles and add depth to the team.

But teams interested in trading for Westbrook may be few and far between so the Lakers will have to figure out the best return they can get and Charlotte may very well be that best option.

James says he ‘loved’ being Lakers teammates with Westbrook

Despite the struggles of this season the players on the team never splintered or pointed fingers at each other. Even with Westbrook’s struggles he always had the support of his teammates and LeBron James admitted that he loved being teammates with Westbrook this season.

“It’s all about coming in and putting in the work and go from there,” James said at his exit interview. “One thing about Russ that I love and I will always love is his competitive spirit. What he brings to the game every single night and when you are in a profession where so many injuries happen and so many things go on and to have a guy that’s reliable and put on a uniform every single night, that’s something I respect out of everything.

“I’m not going to sit here and make decisions for the front office and things of that nature, but I love being a teammate with Russ. It’s just the way it is.”

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