Now that the NBA Finals are over, the Hot Stove League, or whatever it's called in basketball, is heating up quickly ahead of next Thursday's draft. It's no secret that the Los Angeles Lakers, after flaming out in the first round of the playoffs, are looking to add a third star at point guard with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and reports are the team is looking at Wizards All-Star guard and L.A. native Russell Westbrook. The SportsLine Projection Model forecasts the Lakers to be worse with Westbrook, although SL oddsmakers consider any deal a long shot.
The Lakers don't have the cap space to add a third star in free agency, so they will need to get creative via sign-and-trade. Marc J. Spears of the Undefeated reported that there have been talks about Westbrook going home to Los Angeles in a sign-and-trade deal that could include free-agent point guard Dennis Schroder, forward Kyle Kuzma and guard Talen Horton-Tucker.
I'm not sure why Washington would do that. Plus, the Wizards consulted both Westbrook and Bradley Beal on their new coach hire (Wes Unseld Jr.).
How could a team get worse by adding a future Hall of Famer who has averaged an unprecedented triple-double in four of the past five seasons? Westbrook does shoot too much and turns the ball over a ton. And in theory, the more he would shoot the less that LeBron and Davis would. The Lakers need more of a pass-first point guard – to be fair, Westbrook did lead the NBA in assists last year at 11.8 per game. He's never played on a team where he wasn't asked to be one of the primary scoring options.
Spears also mentioned Chris Paul to the Lakers and Magic Johnson tweeted: "If Chris Paul opts out of his contract with the Suns, his first call should be from his best friend LeBron James and the Lakers."
Magic is a bit biased here. Paul would have to turn down his $44.5 million player option for next season and could only sign with L.A. for a $9.5 million taxpayer midlevel exception. If Paul keeps that player option, the Suns aren't about to send him to L.A. in a sign-and-trade. But the model did run simulations of Paul to the Lakers in a sign-and trade for Schroder, Kuzma and Talen Horton-Tucker.
Frankly, the most likely option is the Lakers somehow plucking Kemba Walker from Oklahoma City. Last month, the Thunder acquired Walker and a first-round pick from Boston in exchange for Al Horford and Moses Brown. Rebuilding OKC has no need for Walker. The Lakers are +400 second-favorites at William Hill Sportsbook to win the 2022 NBA title.
Via SportsLine oddsmakers: Will Russell Westbrook be with the Wizards for Game 1 of the 2021-22 season?
- Yes -550
- No +400
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|w/ Chris Paul||56.4||78.30%||99.80%||35.40%||20.60%|
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|w/ Chris Paul||47.1||65.40%||84.10%||3.10%||0.90%|
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