The Lakers’ pursuit of a trade for Russell Westbrook throughout the summer took them far and wide across the NBA landscape. Stops at Brooklyn, Indiana, Charlotte and Utah all led to nothing with Westbrook entering the season as a Laker.
His opening three games of his second year in Los Angeles have been anything but convincing, including his late-game blunder against the Blazers. Predictably, and perhaps rightfully, the focus from outside the team has been on addressing the Russ situation, either by trade, benching or John Walling.
The first of those options still remains a possibility despite the failings of the summer. According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, the Lakers and Jazz, specifically, are expected to revisit trade talks...eventually.
When that time comes, Los Angeles will explore trade combinations with the Pacers that involve center Myles Turner and/or wing Buddy Hield. Those talks are currently on hold, but Turner and Hield would both add much-needed shooting, and Turner would provide rim-protection depth behind the oft-injured Davis.
Utah has been connected to the Lakers for months, too. League sources say that before the Jazz sent Bojan Bogdanovic to the Pistons, the Lakers offered Westbrook, a future first-round pick, and second-rounders for Bogdanovic and others. Sources expect the Lakers and Jazz to resume talks later in the season with some combination of other players discussed. (Utah has Jordan Clarkson, Mike Conley, and Rudy Gay—three veterans who can all shoot.)
The Pacers deal, as KOC alluded to, is one that is simply going to exist in theory until one of Russ, Myles Turner or Buddy Hield is dealt or the trade is actually agreed upon. The Lakers have been very close to pulling the trigger on that deal but pulled back and haven’t moved forward on it again.
As for the Jazz, the package Utah can offer is significantly less intriguing with Bojan Bogdanovic no longer an option. While the Lakers may have once been close to a deal with them, circumstances have substantially changed. Danny Ainge’s love for future draft picks will be put to the test as there’s simply no package Utah can offer that would warrant two first round picks.
Still, though, assuming that isn’t a deal breaker, there is something that could be worked out that would allow the Lakers to upgrade while saving the Jazz money and allowing them to tank, which seems to be their long-term goal.
One of the other big questions is just when they would revisit these talks. The Lakers are preaching patience but are also winless through their first three games and have a daunting schedule across their first dozen contests. How many more losses before Rob Pelinka and the front office are forced into a move?
That’ll be the leverage Ainge and the rest of the league are going to hold over the Lakers until a deal is done, which only further clouds the trade discussion waters.