Lakers

Lakers News: The Ringer Team Applauds Lakers Front Office For Trade Hesitancy

Russell Westbrook remains a Laker — for now.

Your Los Angeles Lakers’ most well-compensated player, ex-All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, is also the single piece the team is most hoping to trade.

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In a recent episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast, Bill Simmons, Joe House and Ryen Russillo discussed their relative pessimism about the club’s postseason prospects and the team’s roster construction, but did award credit to the team’s front office, fronted by team vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka, for opting to hold onto Russell Westbrook’s expiring $47.1 million contract and the team’s two highly-coveted tradable future first-round draft picks in 2027 and 2029.

A pertinent clip is below:

Elsewhere in the podcast, Simmons notes that he anticipates a bounce back season for Los Angeles power forward/center Anthony Davis, who missed 42 games last season due to several injuries, and became one of the NBA’s least effective jump shooter. The trio wonders which of the team’s 13 non-All-Star players really ranks as the third best. This writer thinks it’s Patrick Beverley, traditionally an above-average player on both sides of the ball, though he is 34 and is production could fall off at any time.

Simmons postulated a theory, to which both Russillo and House were receptive, that the Lakers, sensing they could perhaps extract even more of a return than the current best offer, Indiana Pacers veterans Myles Turner and Buddy Hield, opted to wait for other teams to try desperate to offload assets in the hopes of being as terrible as possible, to get into the Victor Wembanyama 2023 draft sweepstakes.

The Ringer’s head honcho went as far as to suggest that LeBron James only inked his two-year contract extension with Los Angeles because the team had pledged to him that they would look to trade their future draft equity (and the Westbrook contract) to improve the team surrounding him and Anthony Davis.

“I think they have a deal with LeBron in place to spend those two draft picks on talent, and I don’t think they like the deal yet. I think we are going to see unprecedented tank trades in December, January and February, and you’re gonna have eight or nine suitors, potentially, for those two picks with the Westbrook contract… Worst-case scenario it’s Myles Turner and Buddy Hield [as the return]. Best-case scenario it might even be better than that!”

The Lakers almost moved Westbrook prior to training camp in exchange for the Hield/Turner package. Both players would prove to be a massive upgrade for the baseline talent around James and Anthony Davis, and could help L.A. conceivably fight for homecourt advantage in the postseason. Simmons wonders if, say, the Portland Trail Blazers would be willing to deal recently-extended All-NBA point guard Damian Lillard should the team get off to a miserable start, which certainly seems possible given their poor preseason performance. We already know Lillard, James and Davis discussed a potential union last summer.

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