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Russell Westbrook Rumors: Lakers Spoke to Jazz, Knicks, Pacers; Trade Isn't Imminent

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJuly 25, 2022

Christian Vierig/Getty Images

The Utah Jazz, New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers are reportedly among the teams that have discussed trading for Russell Westbrook.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported there is "no deal imminent in those conversations" with the Los Angeles Lakers. It's likely the Lakers will have to watch the rest of the market play out—most notably Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell—before finding a taker for the 2017 NBA MVP.

For all of the public talk about the Lakers and Westbrook finding a way to make things work, it's clear the team plans to continue exploring every possible avenue for a trade. The Lakers' dream scenario would be finding a way to add Kyrie Irving, but that would undoubtedly require a third team to take on the final year of Westbrook's contract and potentially supply the Brooklyn Nets with a desirable veteran presence.

The Knicks seem like an overwhelmingly unlikely landing spot for Westbrook. They are heavily involved in Mitchell trade talks and almost certainly would not want to make any move that would jeopardize their chances at landing the three-time All-Star. New York would make some level of sense as a third team in talks should Mitchell wind up traded elsewhere.

The Jazz and Pacers have players that could entice the Lakers should the Irving pursuit fall through and motivation to make a move. Utah could construct a trade around Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic for Westbrook and a first-round pick. Indiana's potential offer of Buddy Hield and Myles Turner could be more tantalizing for the Lakers but would almost certainly require a second first-round pick be added by Los Angeles.

What's abundantly clear is that the Lakers' 2022-23 roster is far from finished. Their moves this offseason have been entirely on the margins, adding Lonnie Walker IV along with a group of minimum-contract players (Damian Jones, Troy Brown Jr., Juan Toscano-Anderson, Thomas Bryant). None of those players are good enough to turn around a 33-win team from a year ago.

The Lakers need to find a way to flip Westbrook's contract into a disgruntled star like Irving—realistically their only chance to have a legitimate Big Three—or role players who fit better next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

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