Lakers trade rumors suddenly include All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. These LA Lakers trade rumors revolve about Durant being lured to Los Angeles during the 2016 NBA offseason and then the team immediately pursuing Westbrook. A report from ESPN gives a little insight to this scenario, as NBA analyst Stephen A. Smith breaks down what might be the end goal for the LA Lakers. While an unlikely result of the coming free agency for Kevin Durant, it’s something that could get Lakers fans really excited.
“Keep in mind this, one of the biggest reasons I’m told, that Kevin Durant may have the Lakers at the top of his list, is because the Lakers have been led to believe, by whom specifically I do not know, but the Lakers have been led to believe that it is a very good chance that the following year Russell Westbrook is coming.”
So what does this all mean? It means that there are going to be a lot of additional LA Lakers trade rumors as the team tries to free up enough salary for a pursuit of both players. It also makes life a bit tougher for anyone working in the front office of the Oklahoma City Thunder. This day has been coming for a while, as Kevin Durant becomes a free agent during the 2016 NBA offseason. It makes him free to sign with any team, and there are a lot of teams planning to make a run at him. OKC still has the upper hand and can offer more money, but Durant could want to play in a new city.
If the Lakers succeeded in luring Durant to Los Angeles, it is expected that the team could immediately try to trade for Russell Westbrook. The All-Star guard still has one more year left on his current contract before he becomes a free agent in the 2017 NBA offseason. Westbrook could simply decide to wait a year and then also sign as a free agent in Los Angeles. Putting the duo together one year earlier might be a plan of the front office for the Lakers, with OKC making a move to keep from simply losing Westbrook to free agency.
What none of these Lakers rumors guarantee, though, is that Durant and Westbrook want to remain teammates following the 2015-16 NBA season. Durant could view this as a way to sign with another team and put his career on a different road. Even if Los Angeles wants both players from Team USA, it could be very tough to lure them as a pair. Settling for just Durant or Westbrook wouldn’t be a bad offseason, either, but it would also require putting a team together that isn’t simply a rebuilding effort.
On paper, a plan to sign or trade for two of the 10 best players in the NBA is a pretty good one. It could make the LA Lakers relevant again and do so in a very short period of time. With a core that already includes young players like Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell, the franchise might be heading in the right direction again. The Lakers have just about $24 million in guaranteed salaries for the 2016-17 NBA season, meaning the team is already prepared to offer a max deal to a pending free agent.
With the contracts of Kobe Bryant and Roy Hibbert coming off the books, the Lakers are in a very good position to sign free agents again. If the plan is to get as far under the salary cap as possible, the LA Lakers trade rumors about dealing Lou Williams and Nick Young could turn into a reality very soon. That would free up nearly $13 million in additional salaries during each of the next two NBA seasons.
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