Lakers Rumors: Russell Westbrook Linked to Knicks If Donovan Mitchell Trade Happens

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJuly 18, 2022

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 03: Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook (0) during the Denver Nuggets vs Los Angeles Lakers game on April 03, 2022, at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

If the New York Knicks swing a trade for Donovan Mitchell, the next move could be a deal for Russell Westbrook, according to NBA insider Marc Stein.

A source told Stein the Knicks would want to "explore scenarios to trade away Julius Randle" if they can acquire Mitchell. A swap for Westbrook could help clear the remaining three years of Randle's initial four-year, $117 million contract signed last offseason after his All-Star campaign in 2020-21.

Westbrook is set to make $47.1 million in 2022-23 after opting into the final year of his contract with the Los Angeles Lakers.

As Stein noted, the Lakers will first try to use Westbrook in a trade for Kyrie Irving but could be interested in Randle as a secondary option.

ESPN's Dave McMenamin reported Saturday the talks between the Lakers and Brooklyn Nets have "not progressed."

Los Angeles could still be motivated to deal away Westbrook after a disappointing 2021-22 where the squad missed the playoffs with a 33-49 record. Randle could be a reasonable return in a trade, adding a double-double threat who played his first four years with the Lakers.

Though Randle struggled with consistency last year, he is averaging 22.1 points, 10.1 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game over his last two seasons with the Knicks. It could give the Lakers an added scoring boost behind James and Davis as the squad tries to get back into playoff contention.

The Knicks, meanwhile, likely wouldn't even want Westbrook in the backcourt, as Stein reported, but would instead use the deal to shed payroll.

Randle's contract alone isn't enough to match salaries, but adding Evan Fournier or Derrick Rose to the deal would do it if the Lakers were to accept this type of package.

It could clear up space for an RJ Barrett contract extension with the guard heading into the final year of his contract. New York would then be able to build around Barrett, Mitchell, Jalen Brunson and Mitchell Robinson.

The first domino would still be swinging a trade for Mitchell.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Knicks are a "motivated suitor," but they'll still need to find a package that works for the Utah Jazz.