Russell Westbrook’s future is up in the air with the season coming to a close, there isn’t a way to tell where Russ will be playing basketball come next season. The Charlotte Hornets are a team repeatedly mentioned when talking about Westbrook, but there’s no guarantee that he would even want to go to Charlotte or that they could offer a trade deal that the Lakers find suitable.
And while speculation continues to grow about where he might or might not end up, there can be no doubting that despite his poor fit on the Lakers, plenty of teams could use an elite player like Westbrook on their rosters. And if nothing else, Russ will be in the final year of his contract next season, and that expiring deal could be huge for teams that are rebuilding or trying to create cap space.
According to NBA analyst Marc Stein, one team that could make the move for Russell is the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers have a player the Lakers have shown interest in before in Buddy Hield, and coupled with Malcolm Brogdon, it could be quite the lucrative package for LA.
“Another option that could (stress: could) present itself provided the [Indiana] Pacers like the idea: The Lakers have a well-documented interest in Buddy Hield, who came to Indiana along with [Tyrese] Haliburton in the [Domantas] Sabonis trade, and might well offer Russell Westbrook and his $47.1 million expiring contract for Hield and [Malcolm] Brogdon,” NBA insider Marc Stein wrote on his Substack.
“With the Pacers presumed to have no interest in Westbrook beyond his expiring salary, such a swap figures to hinge on what sort of draft compensation the Lakers would be willing to furnish to sweeten the deal for the Pacers to participate and then (we can only imagine) part ways with Westbrook.”
This would be quite the commitment from Indiana if they moved forward with a deal like this but it could certainly be an intriguing move in the context of a potential rebuild. Further, having a player like Westbrook mentoring their new, young star in Tyrese Haliburton would only be a benefit for the Pacers. It’s unlikely, but strangers things have happened in the NBA before.