When it was rumored that the Los Angeles Lakers were shopping point guard Russell Westbrook at the trade deadline, the deal being rumored as a possibility was a swap with the Houston Rockets for their own high-paid point guard in John Wall.
The deal did make some sense as Wall’s contract is one of the few that match up with Westbrook’s and in fact, Wall is a member of the Rockets due to a trade that sent Westbrook to Washington. Ultimately the deal didn’t come to fruition and both guards remained with their respective teams.
Now with the offseason here, Westbrook rumors are floating around and once again, a potential Westbrook-Wall swap has come up as a possibility. But according to Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, talks in February never got that serious and a deal this summer also appears unlikely:
That impasse prompted the Rockets to inquire about a trade deadline swap for Russell Westbrook, with the belief that Westbrook would be more amenable to negotiating a buyout. But those February conversations between Houston and the Los Angeles Lakers never gained serious traction, sources told B/R. The Rockets sought a future Lakers first-rounder, which was a non-starter for L.A.’s front office. It still seems unlikely that such a deal framework will ever cross the finish line.
From conversations with league figures familiar with those talks, neither front office appears to truly value the opposing player. And if the 31-year-old Wall picks up his $47.4 million player option for 2022-23 as expected, it could be even more challenging for Houston to shed him than for the Lakers to move Westbrook’s expiring contract.
The issues that prevented a deal from happening at the deadline have not gone anywhere now that the offseason is here. As Fischer noted, neither team values the opposing point guard, Westbrook is still unlikely to accept a buyout, and the Lakers are likely still hesitant to include one of those future first-round picks in such a deal.
There are a lot of variables in any potential Westbrook deal that the Lakers must consider. A deal will almost certainly require the Lakers to take back long-term salary, and teams could also want draft compensation for taking on such a contract, even if it is in the final year.
The Lakers will continue to explore every option this offseason in hopes of getting back to championship contention and a possible Westbrook deal is one that many foresee coming. It just sounds as if the Rockets are an unlikely destination.
Pelinka non-committal on Westbrook’s future with Lakers
Rob Pelinka will be the man in charge of the decisions the Lakers make this offseason and he was asked about the future of Westbrook with the franchise. Pelinka chose to be non-committal and made a general statement on what he plans to do this summer.
“First things first, he has a player option that I’m sure he’ll sit down with his agent and have discussions around that, and like any player, we’ll partner with him after that decision is made about what’s best for his future.
“Again, rest assured, we’re gonna look under every stone for ways to be better and be open to anything that will improve our team and put us in position to compete at a higher level next year than we did this year. I’ll just say, that statement is not about any specific player on our roster, it’s a general statement. I don’t think it’s fair today to take any player on our roster and discuss his future, whether he’ll be in a trade or won’t be in a trade, I don’t think that’s fair. But in general, the statement I made, I stand behind.”
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