Why the Los Angeles Lakers would say yes
Fairly or unfairly, the Russell Westbrook experiment does not seem to be working. Westbrook was brought in to lighten the load for LeBron James but LeBron is playing his most minutes (36.9 minutes a game) since the 2017-18 season.
Westbrook has been good in spurts but he turns the ball over at an alarming rate and still does not seem to try on defense.
The Lakers at this stage would probably rather have more depth than have a player who just isn’t a fit. Come playoff time, teams will double AD down low and give no respect to Russ near the 3-point line.
The Lakers will hit the ejector button on the Westbrook experiment and follow the tried and tested way to help LeBron James win another ring.
Surround LeBron with 3-point shooters.
In Kemba Walker and Buddy Hield, you get two players who are way above the league average for 3-point shooting (League average last season 34.6%)
So far this year Kemba is shooting a scorching 40.3% from the 3-point line. Buddy Hield is having a down year for his standards but is still averaging 38% for the year. Hield is a career 40.3% shooter from behind the arc.
The Lakers floor spacing would improve leaps and bounds automatically.
Hield would get the best looks from behind the 3-point line he has ever seen and will probably return to scoring in the high teens or low 20’s.
Kemba wouldn’t be asked to do too much and with Kendrick Nunn due to come back to the fold for the Lakers, they wouldn’t ask Kemba to do much other than be a secondary playmaker when LeBron is off the floor and maybe stand in the corner and shoot 3-point shots.
This trade allows for the Lakers to have an even more explosive 2nd unit.
- C Damian Jones
- PF Carmelo Anthony
- SF Talen Horton-Tucker
- SG Malik Monk
- PG Kendrick Nunn
Jones who played for the Lakers last season in a brief stint will provide youth and energy that the Lakers need at the center position.
For the Lakers front office who have been very concerned about lowering their tax bill, this sheds $15.4m in salary. This would save the Lakers nearly $30m in luxury tax. The trade does force the Knicks or Kings into the luxury tax.
With Kemba on a team-friendly $8.7m, Damian Jones making $1.9m, and Buddy Hield under contract for 2 more seasons after this with a contract that decreases by $2m each year, the Lakers front office would thrilled that they potentially get better as a team while also shedding significant luxury tax.
This trade also allows for the Lakers to still keep valuable assets in Malik Monk, Talen Horton-Tucker, and Kendrick Nunn who they can still use in another deal.
The Los Angeles Lakers have time to right the ship, if they go the tried and trusted method that has won LeBron James 4 rings previously, they have a real shot at getting LeBron ring number 5.