During the 2019 NBA All-Star Draft, LeBron James traded Russell Westbrook for Ben Simmons, the latter of whom he shares an agent with. While there are Lakers fans that would welcome a repeat of that trade at this year’s deadline, the Philadelphia 76ers aren’t expected to be as willing as Giannis Antetokoumnpo.
According to a report Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report on “The Anthony Irwin Show,” Westbrook isn’t on the list of players the Sixers would take back for Ben Simmons, and without Westbrook’s salary, the Lakers can’t acquire Simmons:
“What I was told is that the Lakers called Philly and they said ‘we’re interested in Ben.’ ... It was a short conversation, being that to get there the only salary numbers that could match Ben Simmons’ own expensive salary is AD, or LeBron, or Russ’. THT and Kendrick Nunn and a bunch of minimums aren’t getting there. Like literally, the only way of getting there contractually is to put in Russell Westbrook. And he’s just not a player (the Sixers want).
“The Sixers have a literal, tangible (list). I don’t know how long it is, but somewhere between 20 and 30 players that they would take back for Ben Simmons. They do. And Damian Lillard is on it, James Harden is on it, and Bradley Beal is on it, and Jaylen Brown is on it, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is on it, you can think of the other guys that are on there but not becoming available ... I know that they have these All-Stars that they want, and Russell Westbrook is not one of those guys.”
Westbrook has been better than he’s been given credit for this season, but there’s nothing shocking about the Sixers not wanting to trade their 25-year-old All-Star for a 33-year-old that’s due $44.2 million this season and $47 million next season, even with the knowledge that Simmons hasn’t played since May.
As Lakers fans have seen this season, building a team around Westbrook’s contract is really difficult, especially with the quality of players you need around him to contend. Like, Westbrook’s supporting cast features LeBron James and Anthony Davis and the team as a whole has still struggled to start the season.
It’s certainly possible that Westbrook would make the Sixers a better team just because of how much more aggressive he is than Simmons, but for what he’d cost them over the next two seasons, they’re better off looking elsewhere. The same can be said about every other team in the NBA, so Westbrook probably isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.