The one potential Russell Westbrook trade option for the Los Angeles Lakers that seems to always be on the table is one with the Indiana Pacers. The rumored deal would bring both Myles Turner and Buddy Hield to the Lakers in exchange for Westbrook and both the Lakers’ 2027 and 2029 first-round draft picks.
The hold-up on this deal remains the draft compensation as the Lakers do not want to give up both picks as it wouldn’t move them into championship contention. It would definitely seem to make them better as it would bring in two excellent outside shooters with Turner also giving the Lakers one of the best shot blockers in the league, as well as a center who can allow Anthony Davis to slide down to the power forward position.
Despite that, many are with the Lakers in believing that the trade doesn’t warrant both picks being involved. But the Pacers big man himself thinks the Lakers should look very carefully. Turner appeared on The Woj Pod with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and said that he understands the importance of the future but thinks the Lakers should take a very hard look at pulling the trigger on this move:
“That’s such an intriguing question. I think personally, when you look at this business of the league, and knowing the landscape of the league, you have to go off your future right? We all know picks are so valuable in this league and someone like myself I’m heading into the last year of my deal and you wanna make sure you’re getting a return for your assets. If I’m the Lakers I take a very hard look at this, with the position that you’re in. I know what I can provide for a team. My leadership, my shot blocking, my 3-point ability, and just my ability to make plays out there on the floor, and I take a very long look at it. But as far as pulling the trigger, I get paid to shoot, not to make these calls, so I couldn’t answer that.”
Turner did bring up a very good point that isn’t mentioned often enough in that he is in the last year of his deal, meaning the Lakers would have to sign him to a new contract this offseason and he is looking to get a major payday. If the Lakers are giving up both picks, they would have to do everything to ensure he remains with the team, which could lock the team into more of a mid-tier Western Conference team as opposed to a true contender.
But even though he stopped short of telling the Lakers to make the move, Turner certainly sounded like a player who is ready to move on from Indiana to the bright lights of Los Angeles and join the Lakers as he would later explain in the same podcast:
“Yes. Just playing in the bigger market, I just feel like here in the Midwest we don’t get the love I think we deserve […] it doesn’t get taken on the national level […] You are under the microscope out there at the West. When you are doing bad you’re going to hear about it. When you are doing great you’re going to get a lot of love, especially with the love the Lakers get. I think that another aspect is playing with greatness and playing under LeBron [James]. I feel like he demands a certain level of excellency at this point of his career. It’s just one of those things, when you’re out there you gotta perform. People are going to expect you to go out there and hold on to the legacy that the Lakers have built over the years.”
There is no doubt that Turner brings a lot to the table and would be a major positive addition to the Lakers. But for a team focused on championships, he doesn’t do enough to bring these Lakers to that level of contention and giving up two firsts for that caliber of player has usually been a mistake throughout the history of the league.
But the Lakers will take a long look again at the potential deal as they surely already have, and with the team in need of a roster upgrade, the front office will likely explore this option again.
Darvin Ham happy for Russell Westbrook thriving in bench role
Something that could help facilitate a deal is Westbrook showing how good he still can be and he has done just that since Darvin Ham moved him to a bench role. The Lakers coach spoke about how happy he was for Westbrook playing so well these last two games.
“I’m so happy for him man, he’s the last couple of games, Minnesota and tonight, he’s been phenomenal,” Ham said. “Nothing short of amazing and I think I’m so happy. I can’t even imagine what that kid is going through. One of the biggest things about me getting this job was for him to get that respect that he deserves because a lot of went on last year was not his fault and everything, all of the blame, was placed on him.”
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