The Los Angeles Lakers have found a potential trade partner in the Indiana Pacers. But, the two sides still have some work to do hammering out the specifics of the deal that is centered around the contract of former NBA MVP Russell Westbrook.
I say contract because the Pacers don’t have any interest in acquiring Westbrook to play on the team. They are rebuilding and have a number of young players that they are expecting to give minutes to in the backcourt. Tyrese Haliburton is entrenched as the starting point guard, while Chris Duarte, Bennedict Mathurin and Andrew Nembhard will also receive minutes.
If Westbrook is dealt to the Pacers, he will be bought out immediately. However, for it to even get to that point, Indiana needs a little bit more to be offered from the Lakers along with Westbrook. This isn’t a straight salary dump as Myles Turner and Buddy Hield would be heading to Los Angeles in the deal.
Both are legitimate rotation players that would help the Lakers immensely. Turner is a great fit in the frontcourt because of his 3-point shooting ability and elite rim protection. Hield is as good as it gets as a high-volume 3-point shooter, something that has been present on all of the rosters that have been successful with LeBron James at the helm.
For now, trade talks are dead between the teams as the Pacers declined the Lakers’ offer of Westbrook and a 2027 first-round pick for Turner and Hield. But, according to Bob Kravitz of The Athletic, talks could pick back up if Rob Pelinka includes a second first-round pick.
“The Lakers could revitalize trade talks with the Pacers if they added a second first-round draft pick to the proposed deal. Pretty straightforward, really. That would be a first-rounder in 2027 and 2029; currently, they are offering just the 2027 pick in exchange for Turner and Hield.
The Pacers believe they should get a first for taking Westbrook’s contract off the Lakers’ hands and another first for Turner and Hield. It’s a little hard to understand why Lakers GM Rob Pelinka wouldn’t do the deal; he’s got LeBron coming up on the last years of his prime, and he’s getting two solid pieces in return.”
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It is hard to argue against the Pacers’ thinking. Some would say they are even cutting the Lakers a break by asking for only two first-round picks. Taking on Westbrook should result in at least one first-round pick being attached to the deal and the players involved are worth at least one as well.
Before his foot injury, the asking price for Turner was two first-round picks or a pick and young player. Even this offseason it was presumed they could get at least one pick in return for him. Hield, while seen by some as a one-dimensional player, is elite in that one dimension.
Two first-round picks to rid the roster of a negative in Westbrook and bring on two rotation upgrades in Turner and Hield seems like a fair price. With limited options, this is something that the Lakers front office will likely have to seriously consider doing.
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