The Los Angeles Lakers can’t make a move without sacrificing some of their players. LeBron James and Anthony Davis won’t go anywhere, but Russell Westbrook is in a rather awkward position. Will Rob Pelinka finally find a trade partner for Russ? A blockbuster trade proposal will make the Lakers call NY.
NBA insider Marc Stein bets on the New York Knicks. According to him, the Knicks may trade for the Lakers veteran if they can snatch Donovan Mitchell. NY may trade for Westbrook so they can get rid of Julius Randle’s four-year deal worth $117 million. This will give the Knicks a chance to create enough cap space.
“We’ve been writing on this Substack for months that the Lakers do not want to attach future first-round picks to a Russell Westbrook trade just to facilitate Westbrook’s departure,” Stein wrote on July 18, 2022. “… But also that the Lakers are wary of taking back long-term salary that hampers future flexibility. Yet one league source advised me in Las Vegas to keep an eye on the Knicks and Lakers discussing a potential Westbrook deal if — IF — Leon Rose can successfully bring Donovan Mitchell to Madison Square Garden.
“The source’s thinking: After adding Mitchell, New York would be expected to explore scenarios to trade away Julius Randle. And Randle, just one season removed from his breakthrough to All-Star and All-NBA status, is presumably the sort of player that the Lakers would have to consider taking on if — IF — they are unable to use Westbrook’s $47.1 million expiring contract in a trade for Kyrie Irving. Randle, 27, is entering Year 1 of a four-year deal with the Knicks worth $117 million ($106 million guaranteed) and, of course, played his first four NBA seasons with the Lakers.”
The blockbuster trade gives the Lakers a chance to experiment
The Lakers know Randle really well. They got him with the seventh overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Randle was a Laker for four seasons and then moved to New Orleans and sign a better deal.
In the 2020-21 NBA season, Randle averaged 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and six assists while going 41.1% from long range. In 2021-22, Randle averaged 20.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 5.1 assists while going 30.8% of his threes. If the Lakers get Randle, they will have to put Davis at center.
The Lakers have shown great interest in getting several stars, but Pelinka had a hard time finding a good trade partner.