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The Houston Rockets named their price to take on Russell Westbrook from the Los Angeles Lakers.

Russell Westbrook

The Lakers have been getting a lot of attention lately because of the recent turbulences within their organization

No one has been on basketball headlines in the past 48 hours more than Los Angeles Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook. The former MVP reportedly left the arena before any post-game discussion with his team could be had after their loss to the Indiana Pacers the other night. Russ was disappointed with the loss and the fact he spent the last 3:52 of the game watching his team drop yet another game to a subpar NBA team. 

The incident ignited what was already a budding storyline, the idea of the Lakers possibly trading the future Hall of Famer before the deadline. However, the market for Westbrook is ice cold, primarily due to his massive contract and declining production. Marc Stein reports that there may be one team interested in reuniting with Russell Westbrook for the right price as of today.

"I've since learned that the Rockets - while indeed holding no interest in having Westbrook play for them again - actually would be amenable to another Westbrook-for-Wall swap if the Lakers incentivized the trade with sufficient draft compensation." - Marc Stein via The Stein Line

The Lakers would only be able to attach their first-round pick in 2027 due to restrictions from previous trades, and while that may not work for the other 28 teams in the league, Houston is at the very beginning of their rebuild and still has a relatively far horizon. The Lakers have attempted to throw this pick into a deal for Detroit Piston Jerami Grant alongside Talen Horton-Tucker and Kendrick Nunn but have been unsuccessful in their pursuit. So what would the Lakers get in return from Houston? Well, they would get a player that has yet to play this season, former All-Star John Wall.

Wall and Westbrook have similar playing styles, both explosive guards with suspect jump shots, with Wall being more of a traditional point guard to Westbrook's scoring-skewed mentality. Is this what the Lakers need though? Would Wall fit better with the Lakers' current lineup or just create a new set of problems altogether?

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Lakers Get a Secondary Playmaker

Both Wall and Westbrook love to have the ball in their hands, but the difference lies in their ability to be a playmaker off the catch. Westbrook played with Kevin Durant and James Harden when the two were the first options on the team; during those stints, Westbrook seemed to spend more time taking turns with two stars instead of creating off of the mismatches Harden and Durant would create. As for Wall, he had relative success playing alongside Bradley Beal as the two had good chemistry playing off the other's offensive actions, making some noise in the Eastern Conference while doing so. 

This would come in handy for a team with Anthony Davis and LeBron James as the focal points of their offense, as most squads look to load up on AD and Bron whenever they touch the ball. Having a guard like Wall who is great at reading defenses to create opportunities for himself and the team will positively affect how the Lakers execute from a Davis or James kick out. Not to mention, Wall is a career 32.3% from deep and is simply more accustomed to catch and shoot threes or step-in pull-ups as opposed to Westbrook; this should allow Wall to mesh better with the rest of the Lakers and for the Lakers to get the most out of Wall in a lesser role. Wall is also a more defensive-minded player, which should help set the tone on both ends of the floor and create transition opportunities for the Lakers, an area where Wall is as effective as any point guard we have seen in the history of the game.

What This Trade Means for the Lakers' Future

Given that the pick in play is in 2027, the Lakers pursuing this trade has significant implications on how they view their team in the medium to long term. By 2027, LeBron James could retire from the league, and much of this current roster will definitely be sitting at home reminiscing as well. The Lakers giving up their 2027 pick means one thing, which is their uncertainty around Anthony Davis being their cornerstone for the post-LeBron era. 

That pick in 2027 could be a good one given the potential circumstances surrounding LeBron James, who is still playing at an MVP level at the age of 37. Keeping that pick would mean that the Lakers would add a potential young star to play alongside Anthony Davis in his golden years, which is certainly something the Lakers are starting to think about, given AD's medical history. 

Davis has the potential to be the best player in the game, but since winning a title, we haven't really seen much from AD. He is always hurt, so it wouldn't be outlandish for the Lakers to question his viability as their next marquee player. Once the LeBron era is over in LA, look for the Lakers to explore possible trade options for AD to help build a young nucleus that they can either develop or look to package for whoever is the game's biggest star at that point in time, as this is the way the Lakers have continuously operated when it comes to rebuilding their roster. 

A trade for Wall also allows him to shed his contract in a few years, and along with Anthony Davis, he could start to work towards pursuing players who will bring back shades of their glory days with Magic JohnsonKobe Bryant, or Shaquille O'Neal. I can see the Lakers looking to lure the likes of Joel EmbiidDevin Booker, or LaMelo Ball to have an exciting new star rile up their fanbase in the pursuit of yet another championship ring.

Should the Lakers make the trade? Is it wise for them to do everything they can to win while LeBron James plays at an MVP level? Well, there will never be another player like LeBron James, and free agency is never guaranteed, so if I were them, it would be in their best interest to go all-in and try to win as many rings as possible while LeBron James is a Los Angeles Laker.

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