The Los Angeles Lakers have been extremely disappointing this season and a lot of the team’s issues stem from the Russell Westbrook trade from the offseason. Not only does Westbrook not fit well with LeBron James and Anthony Davis but his contract seriously restricted what the team could do around its “big three”.
The Lakers traded three valuable depth pieces (and the 22nd pick in the 2021 NBA Draft) for Westbrook and was not able to properly replace those assets as the team could only bring in minimum players and one taxpayer’s MLE. Add in the loss of Alex Caruso and this team is a shell of its former self.
That has led many Laker fans to want to see Russell Westbrook traded. While most of the Lakers rumors are smoke, there are two potential packages that the Lakers could potentially pull off to trade Westbrook, depending on what happens.
The most likely trade if the Lakers were to move on from Russell Westbrook is for John Wall. Wall has practically the same contract as Westbrook and has no purpose on the Houston Rockets. Both are bad contracts, so it isn’t like the Lakers would have to do a whole lot of convincing to get this deal done. Sam Quinn of CBS Sports argues that it is officially time for the Lakers to explore this trade.
However, a Russell Westbrook for John Wall trade would be disastrous for the Los Angeles Lakers.
While it might make sense on paper, this would only be compounding the issue for the Los Angeles Lakers. This would be taking a really bad situation and only making it worse with there being a very marginal chance of it actually working out.
The risk simply is not worth the reward in this situation, even if the Westbrook situation has been awful for the Lakers thus far.
First of all, all of the same issues that currently exist with Russell Westbrook would exist with John Wall. He too is a ball-dominant guard that acts as a vacuum in the offense. Wall also cannot shoot well from beyond the arc and does most of his work in the paint as he too would hurt the Lakers’ floor-spacing.
Wall is also even worse on defense than Westbrook, who is already pretty bad on defense. Maybe it would be easier for the Lakers to convince Wall to play more third fiddle/come off the bench but the styles are identical. And as bad as Westbrook has been, he is still better than John Wall.
The Lakers would be moving laterally and they would have to trade an asset to make this happen. Sure, Wall has an awful contract as well and no other team would trade an asset for it. However, the Rockets have no reason to outright flip Wall for Westbrook. Neither player accomplishes what the Rockets are trying to do.
For that reason, the Rockets could leverage the Lakers’ desire to swap assets and ask for something in return. That might be some second-round picks, maybe it is a future heavily-protected first-round pick. Regardless of what it is, the Lakers would have to trade even more assets for Wall, which would be horrendous.
The only way around this would be to loop in a third team that trades multiple contracts to Houston, takes on Westbrook and sends Wall to LA. However, if the Lakers can find a team that is willing to trade multiple contracts for Westbrook then that should be the deal the Lakers make anyways. It would be much better to break up the contracts to make them easier to move rather than trade for another overpaid former star.
Both Wall and Westbrook are making $44 million this season and both are making $47 million next season. This trade does nothing for the Los Angeles Lakers and should be avoided. They are better off just trying to figure it out with Westbrook rather than start over with Wall.