There are two early suitors that could be interested in acquiring guard Russell Westbrook from the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason.
The Los Angeles Lakers were expected to be contending for the Larry O’Brien Trophy at the end of the 2021-22 regular season, especially after they brought in guard Russell Westbrook. Instead, the team failed to qualify for the play-in tournament, as they finished 11th in the Western Conference with a 33-49 record.
Westbrook never really caught on in Los Angeles, and could potentially be moved this offseason. But who would be interested in acquiring him?
Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the Indiana Pacers and Charlotte Hornets could be involved in a trade with the Lakers for Westbrook.
“Teams such as Charlotte and Indiana, two that league sources say could be involved, could possibly move a package of players to the Lakers for Westbrook,” wrote Woike.
Russell Westbrook trade rumors: Pacers, Hornets early favorites
The Pacers have been linked to Westbrook already. The Athletic’s Shams Charania wrote that rival executives believe Indiana could be a potential suitor for the 2017 NBA Most Valuable Player.
Indiana finished 13th in the Eastern Conference with a 25-57 record.
As for the Hornets, they were in 10th in the East for the second-consecutive year, putting them in a play-in game Just like the year prior, the Hornets were blown out, this time by the Atlanta Hawks.
What makes dealing for Westbrook difficult is that he carries a $47 million salary for the 2022-23 season if he is to accept his player option. If he does, the Lakers would have to work out a trade with interested teams, which may very well be difficult.
Westbrook played in 78 games for Los Angeles this season, where he averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists, while shooting 44.4-percent from the field and 29.8-percent from the three-point line.
The Lakers will be the team to follow this offseason. They have to find a new head coach to replace Frank Vogel, who was fired at the end of the campaign, and figure out how to build a contender in the tough Western Conference with LeBron James entering his final year under contract with the team. Of course, it will be interesting to see if the Lakers find a trade partner for Westbrook, or if they will have him return for the start of next season.