As the NBA playoffs continue on, the Los Angeles Lakers have been left trying to figure out how they’re able to participate next season. After a disappointing end to last season’s campaign, the team traded for Russell Westbrook in an effort to get back into championships contention. The plan backfired as the Lakers couldn’t even make the play-in tournament this season.
Much of the talk surrounding the team’s future has involved possible Westbrook trades. The former MVP is not a valuable asset on the court anymore and his $47 million contract for next season makes him even less valuable. The Lakers aren’t going to get a great return in a trade but it’s not impossible to deal him. An Eastern Conference executive recently spoke to Heavy.com’s Sean Deveney and revealed that Los Angeles will do what it takes to move Westbrook, including considering a deal with the New York Knicks involving Julius Randle.
“If the Lakers can get off of Westbrook’s contract, no matter who it is, they’re going to do it,” the executive said. “They are not worried about length of contract at this point. They are not worrying about gumming up the books for the future, they’re worried about right now. If the Knicks are willing to take Westbrook and get rid of Randle’s contract, the Lakers will do it. But the question is fit. Randle is another guy who needs the ball, it was not a great pairing having him and AD together when they were in New Orleans.
“Randle came off the bench, that is really the only way to make that work. Would he do that for the Lakers? And the other thing is, can you get the Knicks to put Evan Fournier in that deal? He was up and down last year, he has the big contract, too. You’re taking on more than $100 million over four years with Randle and $40 million in the next two with Fournier. But they can’t worry about two, three years from now. LeBron is 38. If you get a shooter Fournier plus Randle in a deal for Westbrook, sure the Lakers do that.”
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Should Lakers Consider Knicks Trade?
It is possible that the Lakers are so desperate to move on from Westbrook that they’ll take whatever trade they can get. The problem with a Knicks trade is that they trade in a one-year problem for a possible four-year problem. Randle’s massive four-year, $117 million contract kicks in next season and there won’t be any easy way to get out of that.
Randle is a good player but he’s not a great fit next to Anthony Davis. Adding Fournier would be a solid move due to his ability as a shooter but he’s also on a big contract. The Lakers would have to be very confident that Randle and Fournier would get them back into title contention.
Is There a Chance Westbrook Stays in L.A.?
While everybody is ready to see where Westbrook’s next team will be, it’s still possible that he doesn’t go anywhere. The 2023 free agent class is loaded with superstars who could consider the Lakers. Getting Westbrook off the books would open up $47 million to play with next offseason. That’s a lot of money to surround LeBron James and Davis with a better roster.
Obviously, keeping Westbrook could lead to next season being another disaster but trading him away for more bad contracts won’t fix the Lakers. At least waiting until after next season to overhaul the roster gives the team more flexibility.
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