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NBA

The Lakers’ Russell Westbrook could be on his way to the Indiana Pacers

Its been a tough time for the former league MVP, but perhaps he’s about to get shot at redemption with a new team.

Paul Rudder
Update:
The Lakers’ Russell Westbrook could be on his way to the Indiana Pacers
EZRA SHAWAFP

With the divorce between the Lakers and their point guard all but finalized, the only question that remains to be answered is, ‘where will he play next?’

Could Russell Westbrook join the Indiana Pacers?

Having more or less put the nail in the coffin of his failed adventure with the Los Angeles Lakers, Russell Westbrook is now without a team. With that in mind, attention has quickly turned to who the former league MVP will join next and according to reports, it seems like the the Indiana Pacers have emerged as a possible destination. At present the Pacers are attempting to build a team around young guards Tyrese Haliburton and Chris Duarte

How would a Russell Westbrook trade work for the Pacers?

With Westbrook on an expiring deal as he moves towards the last year of his contract and the almost assured activation of his $47.1 million player option, he makes an almost perfect trade opportunity for the Pacers and in turn the Lakers. ‘Why’ you ask? The Pacers currently have two veteran players on the roster in Malcolm Brogdon and Buddy Hield. With both on multi-year contracts, a swap involving Westbrook begins to look ideal. Indeed, according to reports Indiana is expected to make the two players available this summer, which fits well with the idea that the Lakers have two first-round picks coming this summer that will be eligible for trade.

Should the Pacers actually make the move for Westbrook, they would do so with just over $30 million in salary on their books in the summer of 2023, before considering upcoming draft picks and any possible extensions for. Therefore a swap involving Brogdon and Hield for Westbrook would in theory earn not just draft capital but salary cap space as well.

What about the Lakers?

When it comes down to it, the key here for the Lakers would be about adding scoring talent to their back court. As is well known, Brogdon is that rare kind of point guard who can both run the offense and function as an off the ball spot-up shooter. It’s no secret that the Lakers have been lacking such a player all season long. Then there is Hield who is without doubt one of the very best shooters in the NBA. Consider for a moment that the Lakers actually tried to sign him just one season ago.

Is Russell Westbrook a good fit for the Pacers?

The truth of the matter is, Russell Westbrook wouldn’t really add anything to Indian’s roster. Aside from the probable increase of ticket sales due to his reputation, Westbrook would likely take shots and touches away Haliburton and Duarte. With that in mind, any move for Westbrook would largely be based on the fact that he’s on an expiring salary. As a result of that the Pacers could then buy him out and thereby allow him to choose a suitable team for himself. Indeed, such a scenario is almost certainly what awaits Westbrook regardless of where he is traded. Harsh though it may seem the contract that Westbrook has at this stage is probably worth more for a prospective team - for the reasons discussed - than his contribution as a player.

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