Lakers have ‘optical concerns’ about trade with Russell Westbrook, will not include 2027 first-round pick, per. report

The Russell Westbrook experiment has not worked for the Lakers. That phrase has, to a certain extent, been written countless times by countless businesses. At this point, if there was a tasty way for the Lakers to get rid of Westbrook, they would. But so far, the only trade that seems halfway plausible is to swap Westbrook with John Wall.

There are countless concerns with this potential deal, first and foremost the possibility that Wall may be as bad for the Lakers as Westbrook has been. They are similar players with similar problematic gaps in their game to act as an effective floor space, peripheral playmaking source along with LeBron James.

Besides that, the Rockets want more than Westbrook in return for Wall. They want the Lakers’ first-round pick in 2027 as a Westbrook treasure that, according to longtime NBA insider Marc Stein, the Lakers are not willing to part with for Wall.

A few reasons for this. First, the Lakers want to keep that trading chip to potentially use in a trade for a player that significantly increases their championship prospects, which one does not think Wall does. Second, there is a lot of ego involved here. It will not be a flattering look for the front office that gave up so much for Westbrook in the first place to turn around and give him up for so little.

From Stein’s newsletter:

Yet there are also major optics issues for the Lakers. Team officials, sources say, do not want to pay a premium to move on from Westbrook so soon after the Lakers gave up so much to get the Los Angeles native. Remember: They had to send Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and No. 22 in last July’s draft to Washington, after James and Davis called on the Lakers’ front office to go all-in for Westbrook instead of continue with GM Rob Pelinka’s plans to trade for Sacramento’s Buddy Hield.

Aside from the emergence of an expanded trade structure involving three or more teams or allowing for a Westbrook-for-Wall exchange without including the precious draft, LA’s clear preference, sources say, is to bet Westbrook finds another gear in the second half like he did for the Wizards last season. It should also be noted in fairness that the Lakers, who on Wednesday woke up as No. 8 in the West at 24-24, have had James, Davis and Westbrook healthy and in uniform together in just 16 of those 48 games.

ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne on Tuesday quoted a team source as saying that giving the Lakers’ new star trio the pitch for an entire season to find their collective foothold “is the only option.”

To put it bluntly: the Lakers would be far better off if they had traded for Hield, or even just kept KCP and Kuzma, than they are with Westbrook – and that would say nothing about their cheap money on Alex Caruso by and large and the whole. part because of the money they lowered in Westbrook (although they could still have paid Caruso).

Now you can understand that the Lakers do not want to give up the 2027 first-rounder, especially for Wall, who probably will not change their prospects that much more than Westbrook (though I think Wall would be better for them).

But doing it about ego, not wanting to admit the mistake of acting for Westbrook in the first place by paying a tax to get rid of him (if they actually have that option), is the wrong move.

This is seen all the time in professional sports. A team will stay with a player longer than they should, just because they gave the player more money than they should have, exacerbating their mistakes instead of reducing the losses by it. If the Lakers somehow believe Wall can help them more than Westbrook and there are no other trades out there, they need to strongly consider the move.

Because you’re not wasting LeBron’s years at this point, especially with the way he’s playing this season. Making the Westbrook trade was a bad idea all along. Everyone except the Lakers knew it. If there’s a way they can get out of it, they should. Unfortunately, it does not sound like there is, so the Lakers are back to close their eyes and hope that Westbrook becomes a different player than he has been the last half decade.

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