Trading Russell Westbrook appears to be the LA Lakers' key to improving their roster for next season. The former NBA MVP struggled in his debut season with the team, contributing to them missing the playoffs. The Lakers also didn't have the flexibility to make moves in free agency due to his $47 million salary.
Meanwhile, his value has dropped off in the market. No team has shown interest in adding him as part of their plans. Any team he gets traded to is likely to buy out his contract. NBA rumors suggest the Lakers will have to part ways with their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks to move the nine-time All-Star.
They have been reluctant to do so. The LA Lakers have stalled in trade talks regarding Russell Westbrook. However, according to The Athletic's Jovan Buha, there is a 'soft deadline' they have set to find a trade partner for him. Buha wrote:
"There is a sense among some that training camp is a soft deadline to move Westbrook. If he’s on the roster in late September, there will be a massive off-court distraction, with the media asking about his future, his relationship with James and the organization, Ham’s vision of his role and responsibilities."
NBA Rumors: LA Lakers had conversations with Utah Jazz and New York Knicks for a potential three-team trade headlined by Russell Westbrook and Donovan Mitchell
Along with their 2027 and 2029 draft picks, the Lakers will likely need a third team to facilitate a Westbrook trade. According to HoopsHype, the Lakers recently talked with the Utah Jazz and New York Knicks.
The potential trade will see the Lakers acquire a combination of two of the following players: Patrick Beverley, Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson or Malik Beasley. The Jazz will receive Russell Westbrook and draft compensation from the Lakers and Knicks. New York will land Donovan Mitchell.
The LA Lakers are also in pursuit of Kyrie Irving. According to multiple rumors, they may hold off talks regarding secondary trade options until Irving is off the table.
LA shouldn't hesitate to include their draft picks if it helps them get better for next season. Their current roster isn't looking as competitive on paper. It looks top-heavy with a lack of impact role players.