Stein: Lakers 'Unlikely to Consent' to Russell Westbrook for Gordon Hayward Trade

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVApril 17, 2022

Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook (0) during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic in Los Angeles, Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021. The Lakers won 106-94. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

The Los Angeles Lakers aren't in an advantageous position with hypothetical Russell Westbrook trades, but the 17-time NBA champions will still be careful when exploring their options surrounding the nine-time All-Star.

NBA insider Marc Stein reported the Lakers "have more boundaries than advertised when it comes to weighing Westbrook trades" and that "injury histories would be a prime consideration in any deal."

With that in mind, Los Angeles is "unlikely to consent to a Charlotte trade headlined by Gordon Hayward," per Stein.

Stein reported April 7 the Charlotte Hornets were "increasingly mentioned by league insiders as a team to watch on the Westbrook front."

Hayward is owed almost $30.1 million in 2022-23, so his salary would go a long way toward Los Angeles finding a matching deal—or close to it—for Westbrook's $47.1 million player option.

However, Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer wrote Wednesday that "the idea of Los Angeles adding another expensive player with extensive injury history may be too much for the Lakers to stomach," mirroring what Stein would report in his follow-up.

Hayward has performed well when he has played for Charlotte. Through two seasons, he's averaging 17.6 points and 3.8 assists and shooting 40.2 percent from beyond the arc.

Unfortunately for the Hornets, the 2016-17 All-Star has been limited to just 93 appearances.

The Lakers' problems go beyond just Westbrook. His departure alone won't be a case of addition by subtraction; Los Angeles has to come away with something of tangible benefit in return for the veteran guard.

The theoretical idea of Hayward in Los Angeles is great. The 32-year-old would be a massive upgrade over Westbrook in terms of shooting, and he'd fit better in a more secondary role behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

But Davis was once again hampered by injuries this past year—he has logged 70-plus appearances just twice since entering the league—and James failed to hit 60-plus games for the third time in four years with the Lakers.

General manager Rob Pelinka isn't in a position where he can take the chance on Hayward staying healthy in 2022-23.