If the Los Angeles Lakers want to see a difference in their performance next season, they will have to make changes to their squad. Key players will undoubtedly come and go while Frank Vogel has already left.
The major concern is Russell Westbrook’s future and a trade that has been rumored since a while ago. A move by Russell Westbrook to the Charlotte Hornets in a deal of exchange with Gordon Hayward is currently a hot discourse among NBA insiders.
The Hornets might be the ideal fit for Westbrook. They are a young club that he can help develop his skills. That being said, they will have to do it while also mentoring rookie point guard LaMelo Ball.
However, the Lakers might not be interested in the deal, according to Marc Stein. He said that the Lakers would not be interested in taking in an injury-prone Hayward.
“The Lakers are unlikely to consent to a Charlotte trade headlined by Gordon Hayward — not after Hayward’s first two seasons in Charlotte have likewise been injury-filled,” said Stein.
The Lakers are unlikely to accept a Gordon Hayward/Russell Westbrook swap, per @TheSteinLine
(Via https://t.co/WxzyK79qvH) pic.twitter.com/nEWXRXEHdD
— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) April 18, 2022
“The Lakers surely understand that they need to factor in durability if they are taking on long-term money, which suggests that Terry Rozier would have to be the Southern California-bound headliner if the Hornets and Lakers eventually progress to serious trade talks.”
Hayward has not played more than 52 games in each of his past three seasons. His comeback from injuries has seen him struggling more than expected. He is also above the age of 31. His prime years are likely behind him.
In the summer, the Lakers might have landed Buddy Hield of the Sacramento Kings instead of the former OKC Thunder star. However, at the request made by LeBron James, the Lakers made a deal with the Washington Wizards. Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope were given up for Westbrook.
Westbrook’s poor performance with the Lakers
The Lakers entered the season with championship ambitions, but the decision backfired as the Lakers crashed and burned with a 33-49 record. Westbrook averaged 18.5 points per game, 7.4 rebounds, and 7.1 assists. He hit 44.4 percent of his shots, including 29.8 percent from beyond the arc. The 33-year-old also had four turnovers per game. His speed proved incompatible with the team’s older lineup.
Russell Westbrook since February:
-49 (worst on team)
He hasn’t had double-digit assists in 8 straight games. pic.twitter.com/kIdBsitvmu
— StatMuse (@statmuse) March 2, 2022
That being said, Westbrook may be featured in future games, as he has not been able to make an impact while James is on the court. If the Lakers cannot receive enough compensation to get rid of him this summer, that may be the only option.
He would be the organizer for the second unit if he came off the bench. With his speed and explosiveness, Westbrook could devastate the opponents’ secondary point guard. The Lakers’ second unit can encircle Westbrook with shooters, creating a lane to the hoop for him to assault.
From the Lakers’ standpoint, any Westbrook deal is going to be about different levels of risk – how much risk are they prepared to take on to propel them from last summer’s blunder?