Despite the fact that the front office may, someday, end up looking smart and calculated when they do eventually make a deal that makes these already-surging Lakers even better, there is currently no other reported avenue that seems plausibly available to them other than the heavily-rumored Indiana Pacers package.
Going into the season, the Lakers were clearly hoping for a return even splashier than one featuring Myles Turner and Buddy Hield would present itself as time goes along. There’s been a report that they’ve held internal discussions about trading Westbrook for the Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic should Chicago make them available, and another that they were hoping a mystery star — later confirmed to be Wizards star Bradley Beal — would eventually become an option for them.
Other than that, there’s been no scuttlebutt — whether it comes from internal sources or external ones — about a deal that comes close to either of those options. Or at least there wasn’t, until Sam Amick of The Athletic stated the following on an episode of the “Real Ones” podcast on The Ringer’s NBA podcast network (emphasis mine):
“My mind goes to, even if it’s unlikely at this point, the star player trade… months ago there was this kind of ‘pie in the sky’ sense from the Lakers of ‘Well, if Oklahoma City completely tanks, let’s go get Shai.’ Like, I heard Shai’s name coming out of that Lakers camp. But it’s just a dream.
“Don’t get too excited. It’s not happening. I wrote something about it a couple of weeks ago and, boy, did I hear about it from the Thunder.”
The hosts of Real Ones, Logan Murdock and Raja Bell, were fishing for any sort of trade reports regarding the Lakers that Amick could dish to them. And although Amick notes that the deal is “not happening”, he definitely reported what is easily the most scintillating rumor regarding what the Lakers were hoping to be presented with in reward for their patience.
In terms of the writing he did a couple of weeks ago, I’m assuming he’s referring to this piece of his on Nov. 10 where he quoted a front-office executive discussing the Toronto Raptors’ interest in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander before Amick noted that “Quite a few teams are clearly monitoring this situation.”
At this point — given the fact that the Lakers were reported to be “willing” to trade two first-round picks and Russell Westbrook for Donovan Mitchell in the summer while he was still on the Jazz — it stands to reason that like the most annoying guy in your fantasy league, the team has considered every single heavily-paid star in the league as a potential return for Westbrook. No matter how preposterous the idea may sound.
The idea of the Thunder trading SGA — currently 4th in the league in points per game at 31.1 — to the Lakers for Westbrook and the first-rounders is laughable now, at best. However, that’s just the current reality while Amick’s reporting indicates these internal discussions happened “months ago.” Maybe these discussions came after the 2nd overall pick of the 2022 NBA Draft, Chet Holmgren, was announced at the end of August to be missing the entire Thunder season due to a foot injury, and before Shai’s breakout campaign.
The Thunder have now outperformed expectations behind SGA’s extremely strong play, but they still currently sit at the seventh-best lottery odds with a 10-13 record. A full-on end-of-season tank is still in play for them, with SGA’s name expected to be discussed often around the league as the Feb. 9 trade deadline comes around.
That lends a little credibility to the Lakers’ internal dreams possibly becoming reality down the road. Of course, that’s before you think about the fact that if the Lakers will be wanting SGA around the deadline, there will likely be a long line of trade partners for the Thunder to pick from as a 24-year-old All-Star (possibly All-NBA this year) scoring point guard doesn’t become available often. And those trade partners will almost certainly offer better packages than one containing Westbrook, a 2027 first round pick, and a 2029 first round pick.
If Lakers fans want to do a little dreaming of their own within the trade machine, I’ve saved them some trouble above. It’s possible from a numbers standpoint, but due to basically every other factor going on right now (in addition to the good ol’ common sense), the dream will most likely remain just that.
But don’t let that stop you from firing off some Shai jersey swaps if you have them. It’s never too early to start prepping for free agency in 2027.