The Los Angeles Lakers had the opportunity to make a substantial deal ahead of the NBA Trade Deadline. Ultimately, they passed.
It has been something of an open secret over the past month that the Houston Rockets were willing to accept Russell Westbrook and draft capital from LA in return for John Wall. The proposal was so serious, in fact, that even Wall himself offered his thoughts on it.
The lingering belief for a while now has been that the Lakers didn’t want to sacrifice a first round draft pick to unload Westbrook. When a trade with the Rockets failed to materialize, most presumed that was the reason why.
As it turns out, Houston was reportedly prepared to do a deal with no draft pick involved. So what happened?
During a recent appearance on Brian Windhorst’s ‘The Hoop Collective,’ ESPN NBA insider Ramona Shelburne made some intriguing revelations.
“The way I heard it was it could have been done for a first-round pick, but then it was even suggested they could have done it for a pick swap,” she said.
“I don’t know the details of what that swap would be like or how that would even work. … Let’s put it this way: They would have had to incentivize Houston to do the trade with some kind of draft compensation. I think it was even less than what people have assumed.”
So, again, what was the issue then? Well, it looks like LA isn’t completely out on Westbrook at this juncture.
“But I think the Lakers are not ready to pull the ripcord on that Russell Westbrook experiment,” Shelburne continued.
“I think they feel like the team, the coach, the coaching staff, everybody has not done enough to say this isn’t going to work. Russell Westbrook is a future Hall of Famer. There are different ways that he can be used.
“By the way, some of this is on Russ, too. Russ can still change more, too. But I think they feel like they gave up so much to get him and he is a really talented player if used correctly and he has not been used in any kind of way he’s comfortable with or has been used or been good before.
“We can argue forever about whose fault it is. I would say it’s a lot of both. Some of it’s just reality. You’re playing with LeBron now and it’s a different setup for him than he’s ever been in. I think they just feel like you can’t keep changing all the time and especially…change for change’s sake. That’s some of the phrasing I’ve heard. ‘Let’s not make a change to make a change. Let’s make a change when we know it’s going to make us a lot better.’”
The Lakers are a mess right now. Infighting is running rampant within the organization, ownership is unhappy and the paths to fixing the squad’s current problems are limited.
Now that’s how you celebrate a Super Bowl win. https://t.co/ewns5NQxeA
— Game 7 (@game7__) February 16, 2022
Can the Lakers really get it together, turn things around and make a late-season run with this roster? Sure, anything is possible.
But is that where the smart money is? Probably not.