If you thought you were done hearing about the proposed John Wall-Russell Westbrook trade, little did you know that is the gift that will apparently never stop giving. But the latest twist in the ever-winding road sees another update on the proposed talks between the Lakers and Rockets, and really crystallizes just how little interest L.A. had in doing a deal.
On Tuesday, Zach Lowe of ESPN reported on his podcast “The Lowe Post” that the Rockets were open to a pick swap in 2027, as opposed to the Lakers simply attaching their first round pick with Westbrook for Wall.
The Lakers, however, were not:
“I’ve also heard that the Rockets floated the idea of a 2027 pick swap with the Lakers instead of outright trading for the Lakers’ pick. Those discussions never got far enough for anything firm to be on the table, but the idea of the swap was out there, and the Lakers did not seem much interested in doing that, according to my sources.”
This actually seems to paint a pretty clear picture for the Lakers and their thought process. Effectively, they were not willing to spend any sort of future assets or flexibility to fix the current Lakers roster, no matter if it was a matter of trading away a pick or a pick swap that would have at least guaranteed they had a pick in 2027. Even in the latter case, the Lakers could trade a pick swap, assuming they’re still complying with the Stepien Rule, down the line. That the Lakers were not interested in any of those deals is revealing.
Rather clearly, the Lakers had no interest in fixing this Lakers roster if it was going to cost them assets. It was another sign from the front office that they didn’t see the team as fixable at the deadline, and intend to wait until the offseason to address issues.
This summer, the Lakers will have first round picks in 2027 and 2029 that they can now deal, which certainly played into their thinking. General manager Rob Pelinka drew a line in the sand at the deadline and did not cross it, for better or worse. And the Lakers are going to have more flexibility later as a result. But in the meantime, Westbrook is still here, and he and the Lakers are going to have to figure out how to make the best of the situation. There are no more outs... until the offseason, at least.