The Los Angeles Lakers “seriously considered” moving on from nine-time NBA All-Star Russell Westbrook prior to the 2022-23 season, The Athletic reported Monday.
Westbrook (seen at left above with LeBron James during a January game) joined the Lakers, the fourth team of his career, in 2021 after being traded by the Washington Wizards. Last season was almost enough to convince the Lakers they no longer needed Westbrook’s services. As per Shams Charania, Jovan Buha and Sam Amick of The Athletic, the Lakers reportedly “seriously considered” sending Westbrook to the Indiana Pacers before the season.
On the cusp of training camp, as media day neared and the topic of Westbrook’s uncertain future continued to dominate the conversation around the NBA, sources with direct knowledge of the negotiations say the Lakers’ key decision-makers spent several days engaged in deep conversations about the feasibility of a blockbuster trade with Indiana.
Vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka, owner Jeanie Buss and senior basketball adviser Kurt Rambis seriously considered sending Westbrook and unprotected first-round picks in 2027 and 2029 to the Pacers for center Myles Turner and guard Buddy Hield, sources said.
…In the end, the Lakers chose not to make the formal offer after several long debates among the stakeholders, a collaboration that led to a prudent, patient approach to the Pacers conversations. A potential deal would’ve meant that the Lakers in effect would have traded Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the chance to re-sign Alex Caruso and three first-round picks for Turner and Hield, when taking into account the totality of the original Westbrook trade.
The NBA world was quick to react to the news:
Whatever the Indiana Pacers are worth, they'd be worth $300 million more after a season with Russell Westbrook having the arena sold out every night .. IDK how owners of teams don't see this LMAO!
— Ben Stinar (@BenStinar) October 3, 2022
“Whatever the Indiana Pacers are worth, they’d be worth $300 million more after a season with Russell Westbrook having the arena sold out every night .. IDK how owners of teams don’t see this LMAO!” joked Ben Stinar.
i hate this franchise , stop with the fence sitting bullshit already and commit to one side of this already https://t.co/TdyGO3HO3z
— (Redacted) (@jcan_95) October 3, 2022
“I hate this franchise. Stop with the fence sitting bullsh** already and commit to one side of this already,” wrote a Lakers fan.
I am looking respectfully 👀 https://t.co/ZrdjKaCXak
— Alexa Ross (@AlexaRossTV) October 3, 2022
“I am looking respectfully,” Fox Indianapolis reporter Alexa Ross tweeted.
pelinka will face the consequences https://t.co/3gt9somczj
— earl (@EarlNoSweat) October 3, 2022
“Pelinka will face the consequences,” another Lakers fan wrote.
Why haven't they pulled the trigger yet? https://t.co/mgRODlLnVo
— Court (@xHollywoodCourt) October 3, 2022
“Why haven’t the pulled the trigger?” one fan asked.
They should’ve made this deal. Period. https://t.co/1mVtsuXW1z
— Justin Seeley (@justinseeley) October 3, 2022
“They should have made this deal. Period,” wrote Justin Seeley.
As that Athletic piece noted, though, the team may still make a Westbrook deal down the road:
While Westbrook wasn’t traded in the summer like so many across the league expected, league sources tell The Athletic that the prospect of him being traded in the coming weeks and months remains real.
The Lakers tip off their 2022-23 season on the road against the defending world-champion Golden State Warriors on Oct. 18th.