As it stands right now, the Lakers are reportedly adamantly against moving both of the first-round picks at their disposal in any Russell Westbrook trade. This stance has been a major roadblock which they’ve continued to slam up against as they’ve trade to resuscitate their title hopes at the end of LeBron James’ prime. The question now becomes whether it’s time to rethink this approach.
On one hand, if you move both of your first-round picks and forego control of those assets for the foreseeable future without clarity from James on his extension, they could be situating themselves for one of the darkest potential timelines across the entire NBA.
On the other, if you continue to refuse to do whatever is necessary to improve your team and improve James’ chances at winning championships, then you essentially make the decision on any extension for him.
According to now multiple reports, if the Lakers included that 2029 first rounder alongside Westbrook they could bring back Myles Turner and Buddy Hield.
Per Jovan Buha of The Athletic, had they included both the picks at their disposal right when Kevin Durant made it known he didn’t want to be in Brooklyn any longer, Kyrie Irving would already be a Laker.
On this week’s “Anthony Irwin Show,” I welcomed Jake Fischer to discuss this situation and he made it clear the Lakers have yet to offer up both firsts in any negotiation. At some point, something is going to have to give. Either the Lakers rethink this dogmatic stance on that second first-round pick or they come to grips with the reality of running the core of a 33-win team back next season.
To me, the choice is pretty clear. Do what you can to improve this roster and give James enough confidence that he can compete for a championship not just this season, but also maybe regain some of the trust he seems to have lost in the front office.
Otherwise, you risk him not signing an extension at the beginning of August and have that hanging over the organization all year, plus hanging onto the headache that is Westbrook as a first-year head coach tries to find his footing.
It seems fairly clear now that the price to move Westbrook and his giant contract was always going to be a first-rounder. Landing impact players also costs draft compensation. The situation is really that simple, and the longer the Lakers refuse to acknowledge that reality, the more likely they’re forced to start this upcoming season in absolutely untenable fashion.
Fischer and I discuss the Irving situation, what he’s hearing about Durant, whether he believes the Lakers will actually bring back Russ 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.