The regular season of the NBA is a few months away, but a number of things are quite evident with the Los Angeles Lakers organization – the franchise is in dire need of more three-point shooting and lately are exploring a possible Russell Westbrook trade. Most of the speculation has been centered around the Lakers making a three-team trade to land Nets guard Kyrie Irving and ship Westbrook out of LA, but there has also been reports about the Lakers exploring trade possibilities with the Indiana Pacers. Why the Interest in Buddy? The Lakers’ reported interest in Buddy Hield is a reflection of the team’s vision at the moment. They nearly acquired him last summer, pursued him ahead of last February’s trade deadline, and have been linked to him again this summer.
However, any deal involving Hield and Westbrook that would see the two guards swap homes, along with other players and assets, is “currently dead,” according to Bob Kravitz.
A potential Lakers trade package sending Russell Westbrook and a first-rounder to the Pacers for Myles Turner and Buddy Hield is currently dead, sources tell @bkravitz. The Pacers want an additional first-round pick added. More: https://t.co/7dPG18ENu2 pic.twitter.com/UYVE09502x — The Athletic (@TheAthletic) July 22, 2022
A Westbrook-for-Hield-and-Myles-Turner deal appears a potentially good deal for the Purple and Gold. The two Indiana Pacers are superb fits alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Westbrook, meanwhile, was about as incongruent a partner as could be last season, both because of his own struggles and the actual synergy he failed to form with the Lakers’ stars. Hield is a dynamite shooter whose ball skills seem to incrementally improve, especially during his brief Indiana tenure last season, as he posted a career-high assist rate of 20.3 percent. Turner, when healthy, is one of the NBA’s foremost defensive big men and drop coverage defenders. He is growing as an interior scorer (66.2 percent on twos last year), looks more comfortable attacking closeouts than he did early in his career and can hoist long balls as a pick-and-pop threat, even if the percentages are middling.
How Much to Secure Russ’ Services? A key factor in whether Westbrook will be shipped elsewhere lies in the fact that the nine-time All-Star has a $47.1 million player option, something that could make things hard for opposing teams seeking his services. Los Angeles is seeking to return to their place among the elite teams in the Western Conference this upcoming season after finishing 33–49 in the 2021/22 campaign and missing out on the postseason. In 78 games last season, Westbrook averaged 18.5 points per game—his lowest since the 2009–10 season—while posting a career-worst 15.0 PER.
Going Forward With so many reports making the rounds every day, it is increasingly hard to define what the Lakers want to do now. Some days they are all-in on Kyrie Irving, other times, they want to add one or more players, some days they want to run it back with Russ and the truth is that only the front office knows what is actually happening. Be that as it may, the new season is months away, and fingers are crossed to see how things pan out before opening night in late October. This has become one of the biggest sagas of the summer and everybody is waiting to see how it ends.