Russell Westbrook remains a member of the Los Angeles Lakers despite the team trying to trade him all summer. Finding a team willing to take on the $47 million he's owed for the remainder of the season hasn't been an easy task for the Lakers, especially given his lackluster play in L.A. last year.
However, in the days leading up to training camp Westbrook was almost sent to the Indiana Pacers in a deal that would've netted the Lakers both of Myles Turner and Buddy Hield, per The Athletic. The details:
"Vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka, owner Jeanie Buss and senior basketball adviser Kurt Rambis seriously considered sending Westbrook and unprotected first-round picks in 2027 and 2029 to the Pacers for center Myles Turner and guard Buddy Hield, sources said. They held a series of meetings in the days leading up to camp to analyze the possible Pacers deal from every angle, with the views of Ham and Lakers executives Joey and Jesse Buss also being strongly considered in the process. The organization even delayed the midweek news conference for Pelinka and Ham as the debate continued."
However, as The Athletic reports, Pelinka ultimately made the decision to "remain patient" with Westbrook to see if he's able to find his stride with the Lakers or if a better deal comes along to trade him. But this wasn't the first instance in which the Lakers pursued trading Westbrook this summer. When the Brooklyn Nets were reaching disaster levels when Kevin Durant requested a trade and Kyrie Irving was also looking for a way out, the Lakers were heavily rumored to try and land Irving in a swap for Westbrook. The Nets never seriously considered taking on Westbrook in a deal, so that was more of a one-sided interest.
Other rumored trades involved sending the former league MVP to the Utah Jazz in exchange for Bojan Bogdanovic, but he was ultimately dealt to the Detroit Pistons recently. The Athletic also reports that the Lakers tried to land Jordan Clarkson from the Jazz for Westbrook, but interestingly enough Utah owner Ryan Smith is reportedly not interested in parting ways with him, despite the team entering a rebuild.
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In the end, the most viable option to trade Westbrook has been with the Pacers, who the Lakers were in contact with throughout the summer discussing different frameworks. Some packages included just sending one of either Turner or Hield to the Lakers for Westbrook and draft compensation. There was even the discussion of bringing in a third team, specifically the Memphis Grizzlies, who would take one of L.A's future first-round picks, and in return send two first-round picks to the Pacers to fulfill that request. However, the Lakers and Pacers could never come to a firm agreement on a trade package, and the Lakers backed down, something that has been somewhat of a theme in them trying to trade Westbrook.
L.A. has been adamant so far in not trading both of its future first-round picks in an effort to retain assets for the future. But given that the Lakers have LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the roster with the intention of competing for championships, it doesn't make sense for Pelinka and the rest of L.A.'s brass to be stingy with their picks. There's only so many more years that James will be playing at a peak level, and it would be wise of the Lakers to try and maximize that opportunity as much as possible.
But for now, it appears that L.A. will try and give Westbrook another chance to find his place on this team before trading him. They could always revisit the possibility ahead of the trade deadline in February. Or perhaps they just ride out the final year of Westbrook's contract and cut ties at the end of the season, giving them more financial flexibility to make a run at free agents in the summer of 2023. We'll just have to wait and see how this pans out in L.A., because with the Lakers not trading him there's now a ton of pressure on Westbrook, first-year coach Darvin Ham and Pelinka to make this situation work.