Pacers Considered Most Likely Trade Suitor For Lakers’ Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA Trade Rumors
NBA Analysis Network

This offseason is going to be dominated by Los Angeles Lakers mock deals. They missed the playoffs after having championship aspirations coming into the 2021-22 NBA season and there will be some major changes.

The team already moved on from head coach Frank Vogel as he was removed from his position essentially hours after the regular season ended. There could be some changes made to the front office as well, but a lot of the focus by people will come on the roster.

Los Angeles is capped out without many avenues for improvement. They lack draft capital or tradable assets, as there are only two players, Talen Horton-Tucker and Kendrick Nunn, that are under contract for less than a max but more than a veteran’s minimum. The one player many people will be paying attention to when it comes to a trade is Russell Westbrook.

Acquiring him last offseason from the Washington Wizards was a huge risk and it didn’t come close to paying off. Westbrook had one of the worst seasons of his career and never found a fit alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Some of that can be attributed to a lack of reps, but his skill set was never going to mesh cleanly.

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Looking to hit the reset button on that deal, Los Angeles will be in the market for a trade. Finding a landing spot for Westbrook, however, is easier said than done. One team that could potentially emerge is the Indiana Pacers.

Over at CBS Sports, Sam Quinn put together a piece breaking down the likelihood of all 29 teams in the NBA wanting to acquire Russell Westbrook. In his opinion, the Pacers are likely the favorites for Westbrook and it does make a lot of sense.

“If there’s a favorite here, it’s Indiana. The fit makes too much sense. The Pacers are ready to hand their backcourt over to Tyrese Haliburton and Chris Duarte. That makes Malcolm Brogdon and Buddy Hield expendable. Hield is a former Lakers target. Brogdon would be a stellar fit. Both have long-term deals the Pacers probably don’t want to pay. If the two sides can come to an acceptable compromise on draft compensation, this is the trade that makes the most sense for all parties involved.”

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Indiana began cleaning house ahead of the NBA Trade Deadline, as they moved on from Caris LeVert, Domantas Sabonis, and Torrey Craig. They were close to moving on from Myles Turner as well before he was diagnosed with a foot injury. This is as close to a rebuild as the Pacers will get under their ownership and acquiring Westbrook could be the next step in that process.

If Indiana can get at least one first-round pick along with Russell Westbrook, it is a deal that will pique their interest. He could provide a veteran presence for the young guards they want to develop in Tyrese Haliburton and Chris Duarte. If that isn’t something Westbrook wants to do, the Pacers could work out a buyout with him, taking their draft compensation and moving on.

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For the Los Angeles Lakers, this is about as good of a deal as they could hope for. Malcolm Brogdon and Buddy Hield would upgrade their rotation in a big way and are much better fits alongside James and Davis. Brogdon’s two-way play is exactly what the Lakers need more of and Hield is an excellent 3-point shooter, providing spacing for whatever team he is playing on.

This deal seems appealing for both teams. One of the first-round picks that the Lakers can offer should be a fair compromise for both teams as the Lakers are getting back rotation players and the Pacers are getting more draft capital and a cleaner future salary cap.

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