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Lakers Links: Gordon Hayward-Russell Westbrook trade gaining momentum, Doc Rivers wants return to LA

The Lakers may have to get creative to get off of Russell Westbrook’s contract but the idea of a trade with the Hornets is gaining momentum.

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Charlotte Hornets v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images

If the Lakers are going to trade Russell Westbrook this summer, it’s going to require them to take on a different type of high-money contract while seeking out other potential value with it. One of those such trades has been reportedly gaining momentum around the league.

Rumors are also going to continue to come out about the head coach opening even despite the postseason still having yet to officially start. Two of the most prominent names in the search, Doc Rivers and Quin Snyder, will be perhaps the most intriguing to watch not just for the possibility of them coming to LA but what it means for their current teams.

Let’s take a look at the latest reports and rumors:

Idea of Westbrook-Hayward trade gaining momentum around league

The Lakers’ best path to finding a trade partner for Westbrook this summer is taking on more long-term money and utilizing the fact that he is an expiring contract. One of the suitors that makes the most sense, and has been rumored already, is Charlotte.

By freeing up cap space for a Hornets side set to have to pony up for both Miles Bridges and LaMelo Ball in the coming years, the Lakers would be offering a mutually beneficial deal by trading them Westbrook. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report wrote on Wednesday on the deal and that it appears to be gaining traction around the league.

The idea of moving Hayward’s $30 million salary and additional contracts—such as Kelly Oubre or Mason Plumlee and a third, smaller deal—to Los Angeles for Russell Westbrook’s expiring contract has taken hold among league executives, as first reported by Marc Stein. Westbrook would be owed $47 million in 2022-23 if he picks up his player option, which would create significant financial flexibility for the Hornets in the summer of 2023.

But the idea of Los Angeles adding another expensive player with extensive injury history may be too much for the Lakers to stomach. And while the Hornets explored acquiring Westbrook, a Jordan Brand athlete, from the Rockets back in 2020, that was before Ball’s star turn. Hayward still offers a strong fit next to Charlotte’s growing core when healthy, and his contract only lasts one season longer than Westbrook’s.

As an on-court fit, Hayward presents about as many questions as answers but it’s a far better situation than the one with Westbrook, which seems untenable after his exit interview. Fischer said as much in his perfectly-named podcast “Please Don’t Aggregate This” on Tuesday.

Anyone I’ve talked to in and around the Lakers has said there’s no way this guy is coming back next year

In order to make these trades to shed Westbrook, whether it’s for Hayward or a separate one, draft picks very well might need to be included, which is a proposition the team reportedly won’t love, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report as well.

Just because they aren’t excited about it, though, doesn’t mean they won’t do it. As long as LeBron James and Anthony Davis are on the team, the Lakers should be looking to compete and it may require parting with draft picks to do so.

Doc Rivers prefers return to LA, Quin Snyder does not

The two most high-profile candidates for the Lakers head coaching job so far have been Philadelphia’s Doc Rivers and Utah’s Quin Snyder. One would come with a lot more excitement from fans — Snyder — and the former Celtics and Clippers coach would, uh, not.

On his podcast, Fischer spoke about both coaching candidates, first noting Rivers’ preference of returning to the west coast.

“There seems to be a lot of momentum toward him exiting stage left in Philly. Doc spent a lot of time in LA as the Clippers coach. Talk around the league is that that’s the job that he wants and I wonder if the Doc-Lakers smoke is more driven by that being a situation that Doc wants than the Lakers want.”

The optics of hiring someone that led your two hated rivals would be hard to overcome alone. Rivers’ recent coaching performances — ranging from choking with the Clippers in the bubble playoffs to choking with the Sixers in last season’s playoffs — don’t exactly inspire confidence.

Speaking of choking in the playoffs, the Utah Jazz could be parting ways with Snyder this offseason if they suffer another collapse. While Rivers’ collapses have traveled with him from city to city, Snyder’s seem to be personnel related. Because of that, there is far more excitement about his potential arrival, but he seems to be trending in the opposite direction of Rivers, according to Fischer.

To be honest — I’ve heard from a lot of people who are close to Quin or who have worked with Quin or have known Quin in the past — it doesn’t seem like Lakers is something that he really would want. I feel like that interest and his name popping up might be coming more so from the Los Angeles side of things and that the San Antonio job would be far more attractive to him.

Snyder had already previously poured water on the flames surrounding the rumors of him leaving Utah for Los Angeles and also reportedly cooled further on the idea after how the Lakers handled the Vogel firing. Turns out treating your coaches like scapegoats has consequences around the league!

Lakers wanted DeMar DeRozan to take huge paycut to join last offseason

Because we nearly hit our one-month mark before having a new repackaging of DeMar DeRozan rumors, Fischer also dropped a nugget on him on his podcast as well.

From what I’ve been told time and again by people in and around the Lakers is that they did not want to take on someone who’d be having guaranteed 3-year max-type salary that would hardcap them and limit their flexibility. So, the deal that DeMar got in Chicago he was not getting with the Lakers. I remember even hearing that Lakers people were trying to convince DeMar to take the minimum or a Kendrick Nunn deal to try come and be a supporting cast guy which, obviously, he had no interest in doing.

The Lakers not wanting to be hard-capped makes sense. But thinking that DeRozan would or should take a minimum deal or even a deal worth $10 million over two years when he signed a deal worth $82 million is either a gross miscalculation of DeRozan’s ability or his market value and I’m not sure which is more concerning moving forward.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.

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