Lakers’ Beverley Acquisition Makes Westbrook Exit More Likely

The Lakers‘ acquisition of Patrick Beverley on Thursday makes it more likely that Russell Westbrook will be off the team’s roster by the start of the season, a source close to the situation tells Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

According to Buha, a trade involving Westbrook is one possibility. Another would see the Lakers take the approach the Rockets did with John Wall last season, sending him home while the team continues to explore the trade market.

In addition to making Westbrook more expendable by giving the Lakers another veteran point guard to insert into their rotation, the trade for Beverley unites two players who have had their share of issues in the past.

Westbrook suffered a major knee injury in 2013 when Beverley attempted to steal the ball from him as Westbrook was calling a timeout. The two guards have since shared some choice words for one another in press conferences and on social media, with Beverley calling Westbrook “trash” during a game this March.

It’s not out of the question the two guards could make peace, but Buha refers to their feud as one of the NBA’s “most rancid” beefs, suggesting Westbrook has never forgiven Beverley for his role in that ’13 injury. If that’s the case, it would be further incentive for the Lakers to move on from Westbrook before the season begins.

One NBA executive who spoke to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report believes there are three “obvious” trade partners for the Lakers in any Westbrook deal. The Pacers and Spurs have the cap flexibility to make a deal work, while the Jazz have the highly-paid veterans who would be required for salary-matching purposes.

All three of those teams are in retooling mode and could be motivated to trade a productive player or two for Westbrook if significant draft compensation is attached to him — the former MVP would be unlikely to actually suit up for any of those clubs if he’s traded.

Myles Turner and Buddy Hield are the most obvious Lakers targets in Indiana and have been the subject of trade rumors throughout the offseason. Doug McDermott and Josh Richardson are among the Spurs players who could appeal to Los Angeles. And even after acquiring Beverley, the Lakers could have interest in other vets on Utah’s roster, including Bojan Bogdanovic, Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson, and/or Malik Beasley.

All of those teams would be seeking at least one first-round pick – and probably two – from the Lakers in order to give up useful players in exchange for Westbrook and his oversized ($47MM+) cap hit. L.A. only has its 2027 and 2029 first-rounders available to trade due to the Stepien rule.

Reports last month indicated that the Lakers weren’t willing to offer both of those picks to the Pacers for Turner and Hield, but perhaps they would become more inclined to meet Indiana’s asking price after acquiring Beverley without surrendering any draft compensation.

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