Western Notes: Lakers, Z. Williams, Grant, Moore

The Lakers have internally discussed the possibility of packaging Russell Westbrook and draft picks in a trade offer to the Bulls for DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic, ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on the latest episode of his Lowe Post podcast.

“The trade I saw (speculated by Bill Simmons of The Ringer) was Russ and both (2027 and 2029 first-round) picks – one with light protection on it, I think – for DeRozan and Vucevic,” Lowe said (hat tip to RealGM). “I can tell you 100% for sure the Lakers have had internal discussions about that very possibility, (about) if it would ever come up.”

Lowe quickly added a caveat, clarifying that the Lakers wouldn’t necessarily pull the trigger on that deal even if the Bulls were interested in it. I’ll add my own caveat: “internal” trade talks should be taken with a grain of salt, since all 30 teams will internally discuss many, many trade scenarios that will never come to fruition or even be broached to potential trade partners.

Still, as Lowe went on to explain, it makes sense for the Lakers to keep an eye on would-be playoff contenders who might struggle this season and decide to pivot to becoming sellers. The Bulls are off to a disappointing 9-13 start.

“You look around the league, like any responsible team would, and say, ‘OK, we know the Pacers option is there, the Utah option was there, the Spurs option doesn’t excite us much,'” Lowe said of the Lakers’ approach to Westbrook’s trade market. “… Both picks for the Bulls guys is certainly something their brain trust has thought about. Otherwise they’d be irresponsible.”

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Grizzlies forward Ziaire Williams, who has yet to play this season due to a right knee injury, is getting close to returning, according to Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal (Twitter links). Williams has been doing 5-on-5 work as he enters the final stage of his rehab process.
  • Responding to Michael Scotto’s interview with Jerami Grant, which addressed Grant’s upcoming free agency, Sean Highkin of the Rose Garden Report (Twitter link) says he doesn’t expect the Trail Blazers forward to even reach free agency next summer. Highkin believes the Blazers and Grant will reach an extension after he becomes eligible for a longer-term deal in January. For what it’s worth, Portland would be limited during the season to offering a four-year, $112.65MM extension, so if Grant – who is having a career year so far – wants to try to get more than that, he’d have to wait for his current contract to expire and become a free agent.
  • In their first game without Karl-Anthony Towns available on Wednesday, the Timberwolves turned to rookie Wendell Moore to fill out their starting lineup. As Chris Hine of The Star Tribune writes, Moore – who had played just 11 total minutes in four NBA appearances prior to Wednesday – was as surprised as anyone by the decision. “I came here and it was just another day,” this year’s No. 26 overall pick said after playing 20 minutes in a win over Memphis. “Came to get my work in. I was going to cheer my teammates on and just get this win. Once I got the news, I knew I had to shift my mind-set into gear and be ready to go.”
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