NBA Rumors: Utah Jazz and LA Lakers Interested in Russell Westbrook Trade
Posted on: October 26, 2022, 12:04h.
Last updated on: October 26, 2022, 02:11h.
The Los Angeles Lakers lost their first three games of the season, and rumors are already heating up about a possible trade with the Utah Jazz involving point guard Russell Westbrook.
The Lakers wanted to wait until after Thanksgiving to trade Westbrook. The timing would sync up with the return of point guard Dennis Schroder, who missed the start of the season with a thumb surgery.
However, after an 0-3 start, the Lakers are reconsidering their options.
Obviously, there’s some sense of urgency,” forward Anthony Davis told the LA Times. “You don’t want to dig yourself too big of a hole. But we’ve got to stay even-keeled. We can’t get rattled or flustered and things like that.”
The winless Lakers begin a quick two-game road trip against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, before playing the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.
Despite dropping the first three games of the season, the Lakers’ losing streak didn’t affect the NBA futures market. The Lakers were +3000 odds to win the 2023 NBA Championship at the end of the preseason, and their current title odds are the same, according to DraftKings.
Teams Eyeing Lakers’ Picks
The Jazz has several veterans on its roster that they intend to trade sometime this season. The Jazz could cobble together a trade package with vets like point guard Mike Conley, guard Jordan Clarkson, and forward Rudy Gay in exchange for Westbrook and a pair of first-round picks.
Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka has been reluctant to give up any future first-round picks as a sweetener in any Westbrook trade. The Lakers coughed up multiple first-rounders in previous trades that brought Anthony Davis and Westbrook to the team. They only own the rights to first-round picks in the rest of this decade in 2027 and 2029.
The Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers, and Charlotte Hornets also expressed interest in acquiring Westbrook. but any trade with the Lakers also included those coveted first-round picks.
In the off-season, the Jazz reportedly offered the Lakers a trio of vets, including Bojan Bogdanovic, Conley, and Gay plus a 2023 first-round pick in exchange for Westbrook and two future first-round picks. The Lakers rejected the offer, and the Jazz traded Bogdanovic to the Detroit Pistons. Bogdanovic is a career 39% 3-point shooter who’s lighting it up this season, shooting 51.7% from deep.
LeBron: “We Need Shooters”
A reticent LeBron James won’t criticize Westbrook in the media. But he was brutally honest about the Lakers’ problems in a recent post-game press conference.
We need shooters,” said James. “We can’t shoot a penny in the ocean.”
Through the first three games — all losses — the Lakers shot a paltry 21.2% from 3-point range. Westbrook shot 1-for-12 from beyond the arc in three games this season, coming in for an appalling 8.3%. Overall this season, Westbrook has connected on just 27.9% of his shots.
“We’re getting great looks, but it could also be teams giving us great looks,” added James. “We’re not a team that’s constructed of great shooting. ”
After a strong showing in the season opener, when Westbrook knocked down 7-for-12 shots against the Golden State Warriors, he shot blanks with a 0-for-11 clip against the Clippers, including 0-for-6 from 3-point range.
In a 2-point loss against the Portland Trail Blazers, Westbrook missed 11 shots and all three of his 3-point attempts. At one point late in the fourth quarter, the Blazers left Westbrook wide open to shoot. He pulled up for a mid-range jumper and even Lakers announcer Bill Macdonald responded with a “No! Russ, no!”
Trolls viciously nicknamed him “Westbrick” last season because of his poor outside shooting, and Westbrook lived up to his moniker in the first week of the season.
The Lakers have plenty of slasher-type players who are great at attacking the basket, but they need accurate shooters. Trading Westbrook to the Jazz for Conley would drastically help fill a shooting void. In the previous two seasons with the Jazz, Conley shot 41.2% and 49.8% from 3-point land. Meanwhile this season, Clarkson connected on 40.6% of his treys.
I live for Russell Westbrook's crunch time decision-making pic.twitter.com/9juahOx59k
— Josh Paredes (@Josh810) October 23, 2022
Westbrook Doubtful Against Denver Nuggets
Westbrook tweaked his hamstring in the final game of the preseason. He cited coming off the bench as the reason for a tight hamstring. Head coach Darvin Ham wanted to experiment with Westbrook coming off the bench, but they didn’t try it out until the final preseason game. The short-lived experiment lasted a couple of minutes before Westbrook exited the game with a hamstring injury.
I’ve been doing the same thing for 14 years straight,” said Westbrook. “Honestly, I didn’t even know what to do pregame. Being honest, I was trying to figure out how to stay warm and loose.”
Westbrook was listed as a game-time decision for the season opener last week. He started against the Warriors, scoring 19 points and adding 11 rebounds. However, he posted one of his worst games as a professional in a loss to the Clippers, scoring just two points in 27 minutes. In Sunday’s loss against the Trail Blazers, Westbrook scored 10 points in 28 minutes of floor time.
In three games at home in Los Angeles this season, Westbrook averages 10.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game.
Westbrook was listed as doubtful against the Nuggets with a sore hamstring. He didn’t practice on Tuesday, but flew to Denver with the team.
The Lakers are a +5.5 underdog against the Nuggets tonight at Ball Arena in Denver.
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