The Lakers aren’t interested in attaching their 2027 first-round pick (the only one they can trade) to Russell Westbrook in a hypothetical deal for Rockets guard John Wall, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack column.
Stein first reported on Friday that Houston would be open to swapping Wall for Westbrook if they could get a first-round pick in the deal, but that was never viewed as an option that would appeal to the Lakers, despite Westbrook’s struggles this season. As I wrote on Friday, if L.A. is willing to give up its 2027 first-rounder, there should be better trade options than dealing Westbrook for Wall, who has only played 40 games in the last three seasons.
Besides there being no guarantee that replacing Westbrook with Wall would improve their ceiling, the Lakers also have “major optics concerns” about the idea of essentially making Westbrook a salary dump so soon after giving up assets to acquire him in the 2021 offseason, Stein writes.
Here’s more on the Lakers and Westbrook:
- Prior to Stein’s report, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN wrote that the Lakers are prepared to move forward with Westbrook, recognizing that a trade isn’t really an option. “It’s not like [Westbrook’s] a tradable player where if it’s not working out you just move on; everybody in the NBA knows that,” a team source told ESPN. “So it’s got to work. This is the only option. There is no Plan B for this season.” As Shelburne notes, Westbrook, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis have only played together in about a third of the Lakers’ games, so there’s hope that the stars will become more comfortable with one another as the season progresses.
- President of basketball operations Rob Pelinka met with Westbrook for nearly two hours last Thursday following the veteran guard’s crunch-time benching on Wednesday, according to Shelburne, who says head coach Frank Vogel has also met one-and-one with Westbrook multiple times to try to find ways to make him feel more comfortable.
- While the Lakers will do their best to acquire an impact player at the trade deadline, team sources are “managing expectations” behind the scenes about what sorts of moves the club can realistically make, writes Shelburne.
- Although Anthony Davis has returned from his knee injury, his conditioning still isn’t back to 100%, as Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group details. “We are still viewing these first few games as not out of the woods yet,” Vogel said. “This is going to be his reconditioning phase. He’s gonna do it in games. And there might be some stretches where he’s out of sync and out of rhythm. We’re expecting that.”