Monday, October 3, 2022

Lakers rival ‘open’ to trade with Russell Westbrook: report

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A Western Conference team is reportedly poised to take on Russell Westbrook from the Los Angeles Lakers.

According to a Sept. 18 report by SpursTalk’s LJ Ellis, the San Antonio Spurs remain one of the few teams in the NBA willing to take on Westbrook’s expiring contract. The one-time MVP will earn $47.1 million in 2022-23.

“At one point, the Spurs were in talks with the Los Angeles Lakers to take over Russell Westbrook’s contract,” Ellis wrote. “In this scenario, San Antonio should be compensated with multiple draft picks. Currently, a source close to the Spurs says the two teams are no longer in active talks as the Lakers prefer offers from both the Pacers and the Jazz. The Lakers are telling teams they will hold off on trading with Westbrook as training camp nears, according to a Western Conference scout. If the Lakers eventually decide to trade Westbrook, the Spurs remain one of the few teams in the league open to such a deal.

Westbrook has been available for trade all summer after struggling last season. The UCLA product was the second-biggest turnover in the NBA and had the sixth-worst effective field goal percentage, making him a poor contender alongside superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

So far, the Lakers’ lack of interest in accepting future money and a refusal to offer their future draft picks has prevented them from trading with Westbrook, who has averaged 18.5 points, 7, in 78 starts in 2021-22. 4 rebounds and 7.1 assists.

According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Westbrook is “very open” to being traded by the Lakers, although he hasn’t requested a formal trade. The nine-time All-Star would rather play for a team that makes him strong.

An NBA exec who spoke to Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus in August believed the Lakers had three remaining “obvious” partners they could pursue to make a Westbrook trade a reality. The anonymous manager listed the Spurs, Indiana Pacers and Utah Jazz.

The Lakers acquired Patrick Beverley from Jazz and signed Dennis Schroder on free agency this offseason. They also have Kendrick Nunn on the list, leading to a possible deadlock at the guard position if Westbrook isn’t traded.

In an Aug. 18 column titled “Fresh NBA Trade Ideas to Create Newest Big 3s,” Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz suggested that the Lakers take Westbrook, Max Christie and four future draft picks against Doug McDermott to the Spurs and Nunn against Ben should trade Simmons to the Brooklyn Nets.

Brooklyn would also bring Jakob Poeltl and Josh Richardson from San Antonio into the proposed three-team trade.

“Simmons can handle the ball and run offense while reducing the workload on James, and he should also be okay with Anthony Davis and the four-time MVP taking the most shots. For a Lakers team that slipped to 21st on defense last season, swapping Westbrook for Simmons is a massive upgrade that allows Los Angeles to use all possible lineups,” Swartz wrote. “Shooting is a problem for Simmons, so the Lakers also bring in McDermott, one of the best floorspacers in the NBA (42.2 percent out of three last season).”

Simmons has career averages of 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists. He is a three-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA defenseman. The biggest weakness of the LSU product is its sweater. Simmons, who missed the entire 2021-22 season, has only had five 3-pointers since joining the NBA, and the point-forward is a 59.7% career shooter from the free-throw line.

McDermott, on the other hand, is one of the best shooters in the NBA. He’s a 40.9% career shooter beyond the arc, which is good for ninth place among active players. The 30-year-old has career averages of 9.2 points and 2.3 rebounds in 527 regular-season games with the Chicago Bulls, Oklahoma City Thunder, New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks, Pacers and Spurs.

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