Russell Westbrook is, for many people, the centerpiece of one of the most disappointing seasons in not just Lakers history, but in the history of professional sports. He’s still owed the GDP of a small country and, based on his responses to any questions about his play, isn’t likely to change his approach. So anytime his name gets thrown into trade rumors, of course fans of the team that might land him show some consternation.
And yet, he’s probably going to get traded this summer, and some team is going to have to explain why they made the move. Good luck!
What’s even tougher about the selling job for whichever team trades for Westbrook is they can’t even freely admit why they made the move. So this week in the “Lakers Lounge,” Harrison and I did so for those teams.
It’s, unfortunately, quite simple: Owners, it turns out, like saving money!
Michael Jordan has never paid the luxury tax as owner of the Charlotte Hornets or Bobcats. That likely isn’t changing to keep a team that was just eliminated from the play-in, and yet he has contracts to hand out to keep LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges in Charlotte for the foreseeable future.
Ball and Bridges’ deals are not going to be cheap, and will likely cost Charlotte a couple contracts currently on the books. Godon Hayward is set to make $30 million this year and next. Terry Rozier is going to make $20 million-plus every year for the next four. If Jordan wants to avoid the luxury taxes, one or both of those guys will need to be playing for different teams by the time Ball can get his well-earned max deal.
In steps Westbrook and his expiring contract worth $47 million.
And again, it sucks for Charlotte that luxury taxes are the factor they are for Jordan, who is worth well into the billions of dollars. It has to be brutal to know that, under Jordan the NBA owner and luxury tax avoider, they are almost certainly never going to win a championship. Yet here we are.
Harrison and I discussed all that, other potential trade scenarios for Westbrook, Jordan and other cheap owners, whether we think the Lakers should move both of the two first rounders at their disposal, and plenty more.
And for a short-form recap pod, check out Lakers Lowdown, in which Anthony Irwin recaps the previous day’s news and gets you ready for the day ahead in LakerLand, every weekday morning on the Silver Screen & Roll Podcast feed.