NBA Rumors: Lakers Could Still Trade Russell Westbrook But There's A Catch

Ernesto Cova

Russell Westbrook hadn't suited up for the Los Angeles Lakers and some fans were already planning a championship parade.

Others weren't as enthusiastic and thought adding another non-shooting/ball-dominant guard to the mix was going to be an issue, especially given his history of stubbornness and reluctance to adapt.

Fast-forward to today and it seems like the latter were right, as Westbrook has done little to help the Lakers' winning case.

The team is struggling badly and in desperate need of change, and he might as well be the odd man out.

Lakers Could Swap Westbrook For John Wall

For that purpose, it seems like the Lakers could try and swap Westbrook with Houston Rockets' John Wall, per Marc Stein and CBS Sports:

"John Wall. Wall and Westbrook have identical contracts. Both are making roughly $44 million this season and have player options for roughly $47 million next season," reported CBS Sports.

Notably, Wall hasn't even played at all this season and, albeit a much better and willing playmaker than Westbrook, he's not much of a shooter either, and has serious durability issues.

Rockets Want A First-Round Pick

Moreover, the Rockets would be only willing to do this if the Lakers agree to send a first-round pick as well:

"According to Stein, they are seeking a hefty price: the Lakers' 2027 first-round pick. That is the next available first-round pick the Lakers can trade due to restrictions involving the Stepien Rule and all of the first-rounders they gave away in the Anthony Davis deal. No current player on the Laker roster is under contract until 2027, meaning that pick could potentially be quite valuable. LeBron James will turn 43 in 2027 and will presumably be out of the NBA," the report concluded.

Lakers Could Be Stuck With Their Current Roster

Unsplash | Ramiro Pianarosa

That being said, it seems like the Lakers' change will have to come from within, as ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski doesn't think they'll be able to make big moves in the trade market with the lack of valuable assets they have right now:

“I think, for the most part, the Lakers’ improvement is going to have to come from within,” Woj said, per Bolavip. “They just don’t have tradable assets, especially with so few sellers in the market. There are going to be other teams who can offer those select few sellers better offers than the Lakers will be able to.”

The clock is ticking and they're not getting any better, so maybe it's time to sound off the alarms.

Westbrook Needs To Turn The Corner

Westbrook has been more erratic than usual this season, up to the point where the front office gave Frank Vogel the green light to bench him.

Even so, the coach had nothing but praise for the way he responded to that and how he didn't let that drive his focus away:

"Russ is a high-character guy," Vogel told ESPN. "We knew we were going to respond. We communicated afterwards to make sure that we understood what was going on -- we're just coaching to win the game. And to turn the page on to Orlando. And he did a great job maintaining that focus and we're all committed to this group getting the job done. We still believe in what we can be. It's been bumpy throughout the course of the year. But we're committed."