NBA Rumors: Lakers avoiding another Russell Westbrook-like trade mistake

Los Angeles Lakers v Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Lakers v Los Angeles Clippers / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

One of the worst moves in the history of the Los Angeles Lakers is trading for Russell Westbrook. It might seem hyperbolic to call a trade for a former MVP the worst in franchise history, but it truly set the team back and sent a ripple effect that is still being felt today.

The Lakers traded all of the team's depth from the championship-winning team a year prior, and a first-round pick, for Westbrook ahead of the 2021-22 season. The fit could not have been any worse and just over one year later, the Lakers had to trade an additional pick to get rid of Westbrook and his bloated salary.

After falling short to the Denver Nuggets in back-to-back years, and with LeBron James leveraging his upcoming free agency, there is concern among the fanbase that the Lakers might be on the precipice of making another short-sighted move. After all, pressure from LeBron and Anthony Davis reportedly played a factor in the team trading for Westbrook in the first place.

While a big trade could happen, it does not appear that the Lakers will make another monumental Westbrook-like mistake. There are two all-stars who have similar qualities as Westbrook — Trae Yougn and Zach LaVine — who have previously been tied to LA. However, it does not appear that the Lakers are looking to add either all-star guard at this point in time.

NBA Rumors: Lakers appear unlikely to trade for Zach LaVine or Trae Young

The Athletic's Jovan Buha has separately thrown cold water on the idea of trading for LaVine and Young. In a Q&A with Lakers fans, Buha was asked about LaVine showing up to Klutch Sports' pro day in Los Angeles and if that was any indication of an incoming trade.

Buha explained why LaVine was there (because he is a Klutch client who lives in LA) and explained that while there were rumblings last season, it does not appear likely that the Lakers will make a move for the Chicago Bull.

"Could those talks be revisited this summer? I don't know, but I guess not. If you look at what the Lakers need, Zach LaVine checks some boxes but he is a step down from the Donovan Mitchell, Trae Young tier. He might even be a couple of steps down from that tier. There is also now a mounting history of injuries with him. So I think the injury history, mixed with him not being at the level of a third star that the Lakers are looking for, that combination, to me, makes it unlikely that he ends up being a Laker. "

Buha mentions Young as being on a tier above LaVine as a third star option for the Lake Show but that does not mean that the team is going to outright pursue the point guard. In fact, in a separate article for The Athletic, Buha explained the situation around Young and why it currently appears unlikely.

"Young has been linked to the Lakers for a while, though some around the league believe his switch of representation from Klutch Sports to CAA earlier this month has decreased the odds he lands in Los Angeles if he becomes available. (James and Davis are two of Klutch Sports’ most notable clients.) Regardless, it’s unclear if every key Lakers’ stakeholder would want to aggressively pursue him."

As NBA fans know all too well, anything can happen in this crazy league. The Lakers could shock the fanbase and insiders by trading for either LaVine or Young and it all depends on how the offseason pans out. If LA does make either of these moves, though, it would be a mistake.

Both LaVine and Young have bloated salaries that would result in the Lakers sacrificing all of the team's depth to bring them aboard. The result would be another top-heavy roster with a third star who doesn't necessarily fit very well with LeBron and AD.

LaVine is a worse fit than Young but neither player is particularly good at defense and while they are talented, their styles do not lend themselves to being winning players. Outside of one deep playoff run where Ben Simmons forgot how to play basketball, Young hasn't accomplished much in the NBA despite having a lot of talent around him. LaVine has only played in the playoffs once in his career.

When you are meant to be two players who are the best on their respective teams, the onus falls on Young and LaVine.

The Bulls' net rating was 4.7 points worse when LaVine was on the court versus when he wasn't playing. For Young, the Hawks' net rating was 0.4 points worse when he was on the floor. Superstars are supposed to make their teams better, not worse.

Thankfully, the Lakers' seem to be approaching this offseason in the right way. But if something changes, and one of these two stars are traded for, then it will be Westbrook all over again for the purple and gold.