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Russell Westbrook isn’t exactly the hottest property in the NBA at the moment, his regressing abilities and his massive contract are a bad combination, although it is at least an expiring one. Regardless, there aren’t many teams lining up to make a trade for Westbrook, and the ones that are will feel like they have some leverage over the Lakers considering what a poor fit Russ has been in Los Angeles all season.
The Charlotte Hornets have been linked with a move for Westbrook, and Gordon Hayward is someone that is often mentioned as a piece that could go the other way thanks to his salary. However recent reports from Marc Stein have suggested that the Lakers don’t want the injury-prone Hayward, and will instead be hoping to make Terry Rozier the centerpiece in any trade involving Westbrook (via CBS Sports).
“One factor, Stein reports, is health. The Lakers do not want to take on players with questionable injury histories. Considering the injuries LeBron James and Anthony Davis have dealt with in recent years, they would like any players they add in such a deal to be a bit more reliable. That was the logic that partially led to the Westbrook trade. In theory, his durability raised the Lakers’ floor when one of the stars had to sit out. That’s not how it worked in practice.
“As Stein notes, this applies to one possible trade suitor in particular: the Charlotte Hornets. They have two hefty contracts on their books that might work as centerpieces of a Westbrook trade in Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier. In the past five seasons, Rozier has missed just 19 total games. Hayward topped that twice over this season alone, and has obviously missed significantly more time over that extended period. For that reason, Stein reports that the Lakers would prefer Rozier as the centerpiece of a Hornets trade over Hayward.”
This is seemingly not the only option for a trade, the Indiana Pacers have also been discussed as a potential suitor for Westbrook, and they might have the right pieces like Malcolm Brogdon and Buddy Hield to tempt the Lakers as well. In any case, it doesn’t seem like the Lakers are desperate to offload Westbrook for just about any deal, and this could drag on for a while as they look to find the right return.