Perhaps one day there will be a clear explanation why Lakers decided to pay in Russell Westbrookto trust their stars’ desires for another kind of NBA rather than a slight change of form Friends Hield.
Maybe it was just a shortsighted grab for more firepower. Perhaps it was about asserting strength and appeasing the stars. Or maybe it was just a fatal mistake, a gamble that soon collapsed.
It’s all irrelevant now that the Lakers stare at a massive decision in the face. Do the Lakers really want to go into a training camp with Westbrook on their team or are they willing to pay a heavy price to try and undo it?
In conversations with executives from rival teams at both conferences, it’s clear what the cost of any deal will be. Sources familiar with the situation not authorized to speak publicly said it would take at least one first-round pick to corner Westbrook somewhere and another first-round pick to bring back multiple alternating pieces. These prices can go up (perhaps with choice swaps) or lower (bad contracts back to the Lakers) depending on the variables.
One such variant, Donovan Mitchell’s placement with the Utah Jazz, removed himself on Thursday when the Jazz It is said that she swung a surprise deal With the Cleveland Cavaliers, send Mitchell to LeBron James“An old team of a trio of young players and a selection from the first round.
He has formalized what many around the NBA have considered the two most viable paths for the Lakers to improve now. Either the Lakers up their bids in pursuit of a trade centered around Miles Turner and Heald in Indiana or they look back to jazz to try to pick out the bones of a former competitor who has been pushed to rebuild.
A deal with the Jazz and the Lakers could make a lot of sense for both parties.
The teams have already worked together this season on Patrick Beverly Tallinn Horton Tucker Deal. The Lakers have future draft origins and a need for more high-quality role players, making Jazz seem the place to look for a replay in the Westbrook trade.
(Why didn’t the teams get this done earlier? Utah needed to maintain flexibility on any potential Mitchell deal. Now that it’s over, they can offload other parts.)
The conversation, at least since the end of the Lakers, should probably start with a young 33-year-old striker Bojan Bogdanovic. Over the past three seasons at Utah, Bogdanovic has been a capable second choice scorer, averaging 18.4 points while notching 44.7% from the field and 49.7% from three. He’s been one of the NBA’s most enduring players since arriving in the NBA in 2014, at 6-foot-7, he fits a need to position himself as a junior striker.
He’s not a top-ranked defender, but Bogdanovic is the kind who should create better driving lanes for James and Anthony Davis Giving the team more offensive balance.
The Jazz team, though, may be looking to offload Bogdanovic – who has one year left with $19.55 million on his contract – to another competitor in the market for a wing shooting (because nearly everyone is looking for that). And Bogdanovic’s separate deal could result in the Jazz being a late pick in the first round rather than being part of a larger package.
Utah can also order the first two Lakers and allow them to build a deal who they want.
That package, with or without Bogdanovich, could include players like Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson and Malik Beasley, who was acquired by Utah as part of a Rudi Gobert deal with Minnesota earlier this summer.
Although these pieces aren’t the most natural of size—the Lakers likely have too many guards—there are some real talent upgrades out there.
Conley, who will make more than $22 million this season and $24 million after that, saw his production dip in his 15th season last year. Soon to turn 35, Conley averaged 13.7 points and 5.3 assists, despite notching more than 40% of three for the second season in a row.
Clarkson, who is no stranger to the Lakers, has two years left on his contract.
After winning the NBA Man of the Year award in 2021, Clarkson struggled from last season, making just 31.8% of 7.6 attempts from three.
In some ways, Beasley is a similar player – albeit younger than Clarkson. He is, too, a high-volume three-point shooter although more efficient than Clarkson’s. Beasley hit 37.7% last season but struggled inside the arc, making 39.1%. Neither of them is a playmaker for the others, but both would be a welcome scorer with Paisley’s shot and the youth possibly making him fitter.
The question remains, as always, the cost.
The Lakers have been reluctant to trade their first-round picks for 2027 and 2029 in any deal that doesn’t make them serious contenders for the next two seasons (when James is guaranteed under contract). Perhaps inclusion of Conley in a deal, given the $24 million owed after this season, will allow the Lakers to put together a small handful of top-tier rotation players for one last boost with James. And perhaps the Lakers can pay for Jared Vanderbilt, a 23-year-old defensive and rebounds specialist who recently signed with Klutch Sports, as a local in any deal where they sacrifice their future first.
Also, the Lakers may still prefer a Hield-Turner deal that costs two firsts of any package they can cook with Jazz. There was also a lengthy flirtation with former first-round pick Cam Reddish, with whom the team was tied last season on the deadline and throughout this season.
Sources say the Lakers are comfortable heading to a training camp with Westbrook on their roster, hopefully New coach Darvin Hamm He could unleash his increased defensive power while another season with James and Davis makes life easier in attack.
The argument for that, of course, is that if the Lakers can’t build a real competitor via the trade this month, wait and deal with him down the road either through free agency or future deals. A bad deal now that forcing them to get rid of the first one or two in the future isn’t going to raise the bar significantly on this year’s team and constrain them further down the road, which is kind of a worst-case scenario for the organization.
However, it’s hard not to imagine how returning Westbrook’s deal — the former MVP’s sending in several playable pieces — won’t make the Lakers better in the short term.
However, the question they are considering is whether any of the options facing them today make them good enough.