Should Lakers Target Tim Hardaway Jr. In Potential Russell Westbrook Trade?

Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, Tim Hardaway Jr., NBA Trade Rumors, Russell Westbrook
NBA Analysis Network

If the Los Angeles Lakers mean to trade Russell Westbrook, they’re going to have to take on some bad contracts in return. Russell Westbrook’s $47 million deal does expire at the end of the 2022-23 NBA season, but his astronomical salary figure and comparatively poor play have marked him as a negative value.

The Lakers are going to have to tack on additional assets or swallow some undesirable returns in a swap. That being said, just because LA has to take on some albatross deals, doesn’t mean that they can’t improve the talent on their roster overall.

For example, they could target the Dallas Mavericks’ Tim Hardaway Jr. who’s currently playing on a four-year, $75 million contract that doesn’t expire until after the 2024-25 season.

Targeting him in a trade could mean shedding Russell Westbrook’s contract, freeing up his minutes and touches for players who are a better fit next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and would add a high-end shooting specialist to a team that desperately needs more floor spacing.

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Tim Hardaway Jr. has been deemed overpaid after failing to develop once he signed his pricy extension, but he’s still a useful veteran that would be a quality contributor on any team hoping to compete for a championship.

Hardaway Jr is a quick-trigger sniper who can go on torrid hot streaks at any time, can hit shots off of a variety of catches and releases, and can attack poor closeouts with athletic line drives to the rim. He’s the exact type of complementary offensive player that thrives playing next to LeBron, as Malik Monk and plenty of other streaky, athletic shooters have shown in the past.

To make this trade work, the Dallas Mavericks would have to match Westbrook’s astounding $47 million salary figure, meaning they’d have to tack on additional veteran contracts. Davis Bertans would definitely be included in the deal, as he’s another bad contract in his own right with three years and $49 million left on his lease.

LATEST NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: This Blockbuster Trade Sends Los Angeles Lakers’ Russell Westbrook To Dallas Mavericks

A plausible swap could involve Tim Hardaway Jr., Davis Bertans, Trey Burke, and Sterling Brown being sent to the Lakers in exchange for Westbrook and a future first-round pick. This would give the Lakers a four-for-one, turning one expensive, ill-fitting, and aging star into a small collection of role players of varying quality.

Hardaway Jr. and Bertans would be sure to get run and plenty of open 3-point looks alongside LeBron and Anthony davis. Trey Burke could be another ballhandler for the Lakers who lacked shot creation for next season.

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Sterling Brown has been mostly an end-of-the-bench support piece but has potential as a 3-and-D wing. Giving up a first-round pick hurts, but it’s the cost of moving a contract as ghastly as Westbrook’s, and a deal of this ilk is the only thing that could have LeBron back in the championship round next season.