One of the reasons the Lakers may feel the need to get it back with Russell Westbrook – the reason new coach Darvin Ham so directly challenged the former MVP – is that there is no real market for him. Its commercial value is at an all-time low and the Lakers do not have many options.
Two Westbrook trading rumors / scenarios circulating in the last 24 hours shed light on how difficult it will be to reach a Westbrook deal.
One comes from ESPN draft guru Jonathan Givony, who mentioned it The Lowe Post podcast, and of course gathered and discussed: Westbrook, Talen Horton-Tucker and a selection from the first round 2026/27 in the Indiana Pacers for Malcolm Brogdon. Givony said there was no interest from Indiana.
First, the only way for this trade to work financially is for Buddy Hild to join Brogdon, who is returning to Los Angeles. So the Pacers would send two top quality players to take back Westbrook – who would not be happy in Indiana, would take the ball from Tyrese Haliburton’s hands and it would be an expensive takeover – plus Horton-Tucker, who did not made it a big step forward last season. Oh, and a choice that has been closed for four or five years. Of course the Pacers said no to this, even to a remake that is not enough to return. They can do better with other Brogdon and possibly Hield trades.
Then there is Kyrie Irving.
The Lakers were cited as a possible destination for Irving in Monday’s “Agent Tries to Win Leverage” in the stalled negotiations between the Nets and Irving.
It’s almost impossible to combine an Irving with the Lakers that works in the real world. First, to facilitate trading in Los Angeles, Irving would have to choose the final year of his $ 36.5 million contract, which is almost $ 6 million less than the maximum available if he is excluded and re-signed. If Westbrook extends the final year of this contract, he will leave more money on the table (although, as he showed with his vaccination stance last season, he will run out of money).
If Westbrook chooses, the Nets have no incentive – other than a disgruntled Irving – to work with the Lakers to finalize a deal. The Lakers should make it worth it.
Technically, a Westbrook and two first-round Irving trade options work on paper, but why would the Nets do that? Despite the drama and challenges, Irving is a much better (and younger) player right now than Westbrook. The Nets are looking forward to racing next season and should keep Kevin Durant happy, and this direct exchange makes the Nets turn out to be worse and disappoints Durant, as these two options are too far to be useful (the Nets could trade them , but the return would be less than many fans expect). The Nets could work with Oklahoma City on the night of the draft to sign Westbrook, but what is the sweetener for the Thunder? They will want some first-round picks and the Lakers are already sending theirs to Brooklyn to get the Nets to play together.
There is a scenario – rejected by The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor – where the Hornets confront Westbrook and send Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward to Brooklyn and the Lakers land Irving. But just getting this long-term salary will not be enough for the Hornets, who would like sweeteners. And they may not do it yet. Do Westbrook want to get the ball out of LaMelo Ball’s hands?
All of these options are incredible remote downloads. Like Irving who chooses to leave Brooklyn to play for the Lakers for the mid-level exemption (with some moves they could fall under the tax and have $ 10.4 million mid-level to offer, but that’s a lot, far below what it does I just choose).
Irving is likely to re-sign with the Nets in a shorter deal than he would have liked (or perhaps with motivational games to maximize in the coming years).
The Lakers will continue to search, but eventually Westbrook could return to Los Angeles to start next season because with his salary and lack of marketable Lakers assets, there are simply no good options to reach an agreement.
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Westbrook’s latest trade rumors underscore the challenges of any Russ trade that first appeared on NBCSports.com