Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook remains in the City of Angels for now, but the Indiana Pacers and Utah Jazz are interested in trading for the nine-time All-Star.
According to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, Lakers G.M. Rob Pelinka will have to give up both of his first-round draft picks and the 14-year veteran for Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell. It seems like a low-risk, high-reward move.
“In talking with people around the league, anybody that’s taking on Westbrook wants both of those first-round draft picks,” explains Scotto.
Report: Utah Jazz are ‘more likely’ landing spot than Indiana Pacers for Russell Westbrook https://t.co/ee786qwBc0
— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) August 31, 2022
The Athletic’s Jovan Buha believes Pelinka is hesitant to surrender one of his first-round draft picks. That point became clear with the Kyrie Irving trade drama.
By the sounds of it, the Jazz are the most likely landing spot for Westbrook. The Pacers just cannot compete. They have talented players, but Pelinka wants Mitchell.
“I think they are going to ramp it up [trade talks] before training camp and get more aggressive from what I’ve been told, but whether that aggression includes giving up two first-round picks, I still like they’re going to fight to try to keep that second first-round pick,” says Buha.
Pacers, Jazz most realistic destinations for Russell Westbrook trade
Scotto also went on to state, “With Danny Ainge, anytime he’s involved with the Lakers, let’s be clear, Ainge is going to try to squeeze the Lakers like a freshly squeezed glass of orange juice.”
“I don’t think there’s any way he’s going to Utah without the two first-round picks. If anything, Ainge is going to try and get them both unprotected — like he’s trying to do with the Knicks — and get as many unprotected picks as possible for Donovan Mitchell.”
The Lakers are in a win-now mode. LeBron James turns 38 this December and Anthony Davis is injury prone. With a new coach, young talent is crucial for an NBA contender. If the front office can acquire Mitchell, the Lakers will send Ainge a king’s ransom for the fifth-year player.
Think of it this way. If LeBron and the Lakers return to the NBA Finals with Mitchell, the trade will be worth it after everything is said and done. The clock is ticking. Westbrook turns 34 in November. Plus, Mitchell is still in his prime. If the Pacers make a move, All-Star reimbursement is a must.
Will LeBron James leave Los Angeles to play with his sons?
So, what’s the problem? LeBron plans to play with his sons, Bronny and Bryce, in the upcoming future. James wants to win another championship, but he might be forced to leave Los Angeles in the coming years if he wants to play with his sons.
To make it clear, the Lakers will not have future first-round draft picks if they bet the bank on Mitchell. They’re rolling the dice on a potential make-it-or-break-it season with LeBron. In the end, the only person who will be getting his cake and eating it too is Ainge.
If the Mitchell experiment fails, this move will set the Lakers back several years. On the other hand, the team missed the play-in tournament with Westbrook. They neared rock bottom last season.
Perhaps LeBron could win one more ring with Los Angeles. But it has to happen in 2023. Then, he could request a trade or decide to leave during free agency to whichever team drafts Bronny.
More trade rumors concerning Russell Westbrook, the Lakers, Jazz and Pacers are on the main page.
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