The Los Angeles Lakers made a bold move in the offseason by trading for Russell Westbrook. Westbrook has been a work in progress thus far for LA and while the Lakers could still make a deep run, it is safe to say that some fans are starting to question this partnership.
When looking back on the Westbrook trade, the different avenue that the team could have seemingly taken was trading for Buddy Hield. For fans that are not a fan of Westbrook, this might be the massive what-if from the previous offseason.
However, there is an even better trade that the Lakers could have made that would have put the team in a fantastic position to contend for the NBA Championship. It definitely would have put the team in a better position than with Westbrook.
The Los Angeles Lakers should have traded for Kyle Lowry.
Kyle Lowry executed a sign-and-trade deal with the Toronto Raptors to land with the Miami Heat. Lowry signed a three-year, $85 million contract before being traded to Miami to join up with Jimmy Butler.
Lowry obviously had a desire to go to Miami and there is no way for us to know for certain if he would have been as interested in going to the Lakers. However, if the price was the exact same, I find it hard-pressed to believe that he would pass up the chance to play with LeBron James and Anthony Davis to play with Butler and Bam Adebayo.
No offense to Miami, but the Lakers are the better contender when it comes to the existing star duo.
The Lakers certainly could have made a deal work with Toronto no problem. The Raptors certainly could have received a better offer from the Lakers. Toronto acquired Goran Dragic and Precious Achiuwa for Lowry. Achiuwa has averaged just under 25 minutes per game this season and has not been all that great while Dragic has hardly played and will probably be bought out at some point.
The Lakers just needed to get close to Lowry’s $26.9 million salary in order to make a deal happen. The team could have easily done that by packaging Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and the 22nd pick in the 2022 NBA Draft (worth just over $2 million) for Lowry.
In this trade, the Raptors are receiving a young wing in Kuzma, a big man in Harrell who is actually playing really well this season and the draft pick of their choosing. That is more exciting than what they actually got.
Even better, this probably would have allowed the Los Angeles Lakers to retain Alex Caruso without worrying so much about the tax implications. Lowry is making $17.3 million less than Westbrook. KCP would have stuck around, which adds $13 million on the books, but that gives the Lakers $4.3 million more in wiggle room.
Caruso recently came out and revealed that the Lakers offered him a salary around $7-7.5 million instead of the $9.7 million salary he received from Chicago. That extra $4.3 million more than makes up the difference. Plus, with KCP AND Caruso still on the team, the Lakers would have needed fewer veteran signings.
Instead of what the Lakers currently have, the team could have had a starting five of Kyle Lowry, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, LeBron James, Anthony Davis and DeAndre Jordan/Dwight Howard. The team would have then had Alex Caruso, Carmelo Anthony, Talen Horton-Tucker, Howard/Jordan and whichever other veteran signings still would have come to LA.
That is a much deeper lineup that is much better defensively, and most importantly, works well together.
The Los Angeles Lakers missed a huge opportunity in trading for Kyle Lowry this offseason and they will be reminded of that as they take on the Miami Heat on Wednesday night.