The Russell Westbrook trade saga for the Lakers this past offseason is one that seemingly has endless branches to it. The front office really appeared to have exhausted all sorts of options they felt available to them, including some unlikely ones.
The San Antonio Spurs have been the team in the background of these talks. While so much focus has been on the Hornets and Pacers and their bigger swing trade packages, the Spurs have appeared like something of a smaller, less risky bet.
While it’s hard to imagine a deal that would vault the Lakers into contention with the Spurs, that doesn’t mean the Lakers aren’t interested in making a trade, albeit at a smaller price. According to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, the Lakers offered the Spurs a trade package that include a first round pick and Westbrook:
As noted above, the Lakers offered a lottery protected first-round pick and Russell Westbrook for Josh Richardson and Doug McDermott before the season. However, the Spurs wanted an unprotected first-round pick that Los Angeles was unwilling to sacrifice, which led to talks stalling.
With the Spurs towards the bottom of the West, Richardson is expected to draw interest from playoff-caliber teams looking to bolster their backcourt before entering unrestricted free agency this summer.
As noted previously, the Lakers had interest in Josh Richardson prior to him even landing in San Antonio. But, as exhibited by their trade offer, this is ultimately not a deal the Lakers view as one that will vault them up the Western Conference.
It is an interesting trade to ponder, though. Depending on the protections of the first round pick, there could be some interest there. However, it still feels like it’d need to be a heavily-protected first round pick in order for it to make sense for the Lakers because then you’re basically turning one big salary into a couple of smaller ones that are more easily tradeable.
But the gulf between “heavily protected” and “unprotected” is pretty enormous when it comes to the Lakers so it doesn’t feel like this deal is particularly close, which is a recurring trend when it comes to the Lakers and Spurs in trade discussions of late it seems.