NBA Rumors: LA Lakers Could Sacrifice Two Future First-Rounders In Potential Russell Westbrook-Terry Rozier Swap

Russell Westbrook playing for the Lakers
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JB Baruelo

The Charlotte Hornets are among the NBA teams that have expressed interest in taking veteran point guard Russell Westbrook from the Los Angeles Lakers. Like the Lakers, the Hornets also have large contracts - Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier - that they want to unload in the 2022 NBA offseason. However, the Lakers won't be engaging in a trade with the Hornets just for the sake of getting Westbrook out of Los Angeles. In the potential deal that would send Westbrook's expiring contract to the Hornets, NBA insider Marc Stein revealed in his substack newsletter that the Lakers would only accept a trade package headlined by Rozier.

Proposed Lakers-Hornets Trade

Terry Rozier going for a lay up
Wikimedia | Dudek1337

With the Hornets' goal to open a huge chunk of their salary cap space in the summer of 2023, a Westbrook-Rozier swap indeed has a possibility of happening in the 2022 NBA offseason. However, to convince the Hornets to trade Rozier for Westbrook, the Lakers would likely be needing to sacrifice some valuable trade assets. In a recent article, Kenneth Teape of NBA Analysis Network came up with a hypothetical trade idea that would enable the Lakers to swap Westbrook for Rozier.

In the proposed trade scenario, the Lakers would be sending a trade package that includes Westbrook, a 2027 first-round pick, and a 2029 first-round pick to the Hornets in exchange for Rozier, Kelly Oubre Jr., and Mason Plumlee.

Terry Rozier Becomes Lakers' New Starting PG

Terry Rozier waiting for the game to resume
Wikimedia | CalDoesIt

Giving up their 2027 and 2019 first-round selections would be a tough move for the Lakers, but it's something that they should strongly consider if they want to give LeBron James and Anthony Davis a realistic chance of contending for the NBA championship title next season. Rozier may not be an All-Star but compared to Westbrook, he's a better three-point shooter and perimeter defender. This season, the 28-year-old point guard averaged 19.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 1.3 steals while shooting 44.4 percent from the field and 37.4 percent from beyond the arc.

Kelly Oubre Jr. & Mason Plumlee Boost Lakers' Depth

Kelly Oubre Jr practicing his shooting
Wikimedia | Dudek1337

The proposed trade deal won't only be a simple swap between two floor generals. In addition to Rozier, the Lakers would also be acquiring Oubre Jr. and Plumlee from the Hornets. Oubre Jr. and Plumlee may be primarily included in the deal for salary-matching purposes, but they would also be valuable additions to the Lakers' roster. Oubre Jr. would give the Lakers a veteran three-and-D wingman who can space the floor and excel in an off-ball capacity, while Plumlee could serve as a reliable backup for Davis next season.

Hornets Obtain Financial Flexibility While Acquiring Draft Assets

Russell Westbrook attending a Mountain Dew event
Shutterstock | 2914948

Though they would prefer to trade Hayward instead of Rozier, the proposed deal would still be worth exploring for the Hornets. Taking Westbrook's expiring contract would make it easier for the Hornets to give massive contract extensions to Miles Bridges this summer and LaMelo Ball the following offseason. Aside from obtaining salary cap flexibility, the Hornets would also be receiving two future first-round picks in the suggested trade.

They could use those picks as trade chips to further solidify their core or to find a team that is willing to take Hayward and the $61.5 million that he's owed over the next two years.