The Los Angeles Lakers are starting the Grammys road trip all the way across the country in Orlando on Friday. Coming off of a bad loss to a former Frank Vogel team, the Lakers get what should be a lay-up against another former Frank Vogel team that is one of the worst teams in the league.
One of the biggest stories from the Lakers’ loss to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday was the team’s handling of Russell Westbrook. Frank Vogel benched Westbrook at the end of the game and doubled down on his decision after the game. Westbrook, meanwhile, did not talk to the media after the game.
This was viewed by some as a message from Vogel to the front office. Vogel is on the hot seat and this could have been a message that he never wanted Westbrook. However, the front office reportedly signed off on this decision, which just further proves something that we all already know: the Lakers want to get off of Russell Westbrook any way they can.
Westbrook might want to get out of LA as well. His tenure with the Lakers thus far has been a disaster and Russ is at his best when he can play on a bad team and dominate the usage rate and put up empty stats. After all, that is what his career has been thus far.
If Russ does want out of LA then he should take this game against the Orlando Magic pretty seriously. This is a potential tryout for a trade for Westbrook, as the Magic are the only team in the league that might actually consider taking him on in a trade.
It is still a long shot, but the Lakers should be calling Orlando as much as they can to try and make a trade happen. If they can’t convince Orlando then they are definitely keeping Westbrook for the rest of the year and most likely next year as well.
The potential Russell Westbrook trade between the Lakers and Magic:
If you are a frequent reader of Lake Show Life (first, thank you) then you have seen this trade package before. It truly is the only salary-dump trade that makes any sort of sense, and even then, it would probably take some convincing.
Yes, the Los Angeles Lakers would have to trade two first-round picks to get off of Russell Westbrook. In fact, it appears as if the Lakers’ 2027 first-round pick is already being targeted by teams in a trade. If the Lakers are going to trade a pick, it would be much more impactful to get off of Westbrook and open up flexibility rather than packaging it with Talen Horton-Tucker for a mediocre role player like Eric Gordon.
The reasoning here for the Lakers is simple: they want to get rid of Russell Westbrook. They would not have to pay Westbrook’s $47 million salary next season and would only have to pay Ross next season. He is owed $11.5 million and is a free agent after that. The Lakers would save $35.5 million.
Rob Pelinka would have to hope that the Magic would be willing to pay Russell Westbrook. On paper, it makes sense. Orlando is not a good team but Westbrook is someone who can sell tickets without really ruining your lottery chances. The Magic have to get to the salary-cap floor next season either way and with some big expiring contracts this keeps them from signing some role player to a multi-year deal that is worth way too much in the offseason.
Gary Harris has been awful and Terrence Ross has not been good either. The two might get a second-round pick in a trade but both have salaries that are really hard to trade to a contender. Robin Lopez is a cheap expiring that makes the money work.
There are only two things that could hold Orlando back from this deal: the owners being cheap (but as we said, they have to hit the floor anyway) or the team thinking they could legitimately contend for a playoff spot next year (they can’t).
From a team-building standpoint, it makes a lot of sense for Orlando to take on the salary dump and get two first-round picks that could be worth a lot if the Lakers don’t figure things out.
And for Russell Westbrook, it represents another fresh start for a player that simply does not play winning basketball. He would be back in his element.