The Los Angeles Lakers will be a better basketball team next season if they trade Russell Westbrook, that’s not a stretch to say. The problem is that Westbrook doesn’t have much value and the team would have to trade a first-round pick to get away from him, which they reportedly don’t want to do.
There is a possibility that the Lakers will use Westbrook’s contract in a three-team trade to get Kyrie Irving to Los Angeles via a sign and trade. This is absolutely the best scenario with Kyrie and the Nets in a stalemate. However, Kyrie should have essentially forced his way to Los Angeles and he has already forced his way out that he was LeBron’s teammate once.
The other potential trade that has been bypassed is a wage dumping trade with the Charlotte Hornets, who need to free up contract space to keep Miles Bridges this summer and ultimately give LaMelo Ball a new contract. Charlotte reportedly has a legitimate interest in Westbrook for this reason.
However, cost always seemed to be a first-round choice for the Lakers, which doesn’t make much sense for the team. Recent reports indicate that may not be the case, however, and the Lakers may be able to pull it off at a much lower price. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the Hornets are the team looking to trade a first-round pick to get out of Gordon Hayward’s deal.
How this new price could affect the Los Angeles Lakers by trading Russell Westbrook for the Charlotte Hornets:
It’s an interesting situation as the Hornets are looking to free up cash to keep the Bridges this off season. While Westbrook gives the Hornets long-term flexibility as a deal expires, he actually adds more money to their books for next season.
Charlotte has Bird Rights on Bridges, which is a limited free agent, and if they sue all of their caps this offseason they’ll have $ 14.89 million in cap space, for Spotrac. As it stands, the Hornets are still only $ 39.9 million under the luxury tax, so the team will be able to afford Bridges, a non-taxpaying MLE and Westbrook in this trade and stay under the tax.
They might not get the immediate relief they are looking for, but they would get the long-term relief of getting an expiring contract. Also, Russell Westbrook sells tickets and if he finds himself in a dire situation alongside LaMelo, the Hornets can simply save even more money and redeem him.
Since the Hornets are willing to trade for the first time to get out of Hayward, the Lakers may be able to get away with trading Westbrooks without giving up a choice. At best, the Lakers might be able to trade a future pick swap, which with a team like Charlotte is perfectly fine.
Terry Rozier probably he won’t be in the deal if the Lakers don’t send a pick in the first round, but that’s okay. Charlotte can pack Kelly Oubre or Mason Plumlee with Hayward in a potential Westbrook deal. With Oubre, the Hornets would earn $ 4.3 million more next season (with long-term savings). With Plumlee, that number is $ 7.9 million.
Heck, Charlotte could even include both players and save $ 4.6 million next season if they really wanted to. It still works for the Los Angeles Lakers and, without having to make a first trade, it’s not a bad deal at all.