According to a Sept. 7 report by Fox Sports’ Ric Bucher, the Los Angeles Lakers have “made manifest” that Russell Westbrook is available for trade, and Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz has a trade idea involving the Utah Jazz and the Minnesota Timberwolves are involved.
In a September 20 article titled “Blockbuster Trade Ideas for 2022-23 NBA Season,” Swartz suggested that the Lakers Westbrook and a 2027 first-round pick against Jordan Clarkson and Rudy Gay and Kendrick Nunn against Jazz and a second round swap 2023 pick the Timberwolves for D’Angelo Russell. Here’s the full trade Swartz suggested:
to September 2 report by USA TODAY Sports’ Jeff Zillgitt, the Lakers “have a certain interest” in Clarkson, who started his career with the Lakers. The Athletic’s Tony Jones reported on September 2 that Utah is locked in trade talks over Clarkson, Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic after Rudy Gobert was sold to the Timberwolves and Donovan Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Russell, who also started his career with the Lakers, is eligible for an extension offer from the Timberwolves. NBA insider Marc Stein reported in May that numerous opposing teams are expecting Minnesota to try to trade Russell since the guard was battling the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2022 playoffs, and expressed displeasure that head coach Chris Finch missed Game 6 was put on the bench.
Clarkson and Russell would be a good fit for the Lakers as both players can shoot from the perimeter. Clarkson hit 190 3-pointers in 2021-22 while Russell scored 176.
“After the Lakers voted him Ohio State’s No. 2 overall in 2015, Russell returns to give Los Angeles a dynamic upgrade at point guard. The 26-year-old averaged 18.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 1.0 steals for Minnesota last year and can be the lead scorer and tie-breaker on nights when LeBron James and Anthony Davis need a break serve,” Swartz wrote of his proposed trade. “Russell has also hit 39.1 percent or more of his catch-and-shoot three-pointers in three of the last four seasons, proving he can be a capable threat off the ball, too. Clarkson, another former Laker and someone with experience playing alongside James, joins this team as a high-octane sixth man while Gay provides some veteran forward assist from the bench.
Clarkson averaged 16.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game for the Jazz last season while shooting 31.8% from 3-point range. He will earn $13.3 million in 2022-23.
Meanwhile, Russell averaged 18.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 7.1 assists for the Timberwolves while shooting 34.0% from beyond the arc. The former All-Star is expected to earn $31.4 million next season in the final year of his contract.
The Lakers, who missed the playoffs last season, need more shooters like LeBron James and Anthony Davis if they want to compete in the Western Conference. Los Angeles ranked 22nd in the NBA in 3-point shooting in 2021-22, hitting 34.7% of its team attempts.
Westbrook, the NBA’s all-time triple-double leader, drilled just 79 shots from deep in 78 starts last season. He wasn’t the best choice alongside James and Davis due to his inability to take perimeter shots. The nine-time All-Star shot 29.8% from beyond the arc, and among 46 players who fired at least 1,000 shots, Westbrook ranked 42nd in true shot percentage.
Both Clarkson and Russell are better marksmen than Westbrook, so this proposed trade from Swartz could help the Lakers return to the promised land.