The Los Angeles Lakers’ pursuit of Kyrie Irving appears to be over after reports surfaced of his desire to stay with the Brooklyn Nets next season.
However, that doesn’t mean the Lakers are out of options in their bid to remove Russell Westbrook from their payroll — and their roster. According to a July 25 article by Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report, the Lakers could look to the Utah Jazz as a potential business partner for their superstar guard.
Bailey’s proposed exchange looks like this:
The Lakers would get: Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic
Jazz would get: Russell Westbrook, a 2027 first-round pick and two second-round picks
This trade would make sense for Los Angeles as they would get a veteran point guard who has impact on both sides of the ball, as well as an additional floor spacer who has proven himself at the NBA level, while removing Westbrook from their list.
In terms of finances, Conley still has two years left on his three-year, $68 million contract, but the 2023-24 season is only partially guaranteed for $14.3 million. Meanwhile, Bogdanovic is entering the final year of his $73 million contract and will be a free agent next summer.
Conley and Bogdanovic would be suitable to improve the Lakers
While it’s never easy to see a superstar talent leave your team, it’s been clear for some time that Westbrook’s skills don’t quite match those of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, especially given his dominating nature. .
Conley could help solve this problem. His 3-point shooting ability – 38.2 percent on his career – would allow him to fill an off-ball role, allowing James to continue to be the primary ball handler for the Lakers.
Of course, adding a sniper like Bogdanovic would also help Los Angeles improve their spacing while adding versatility when attacking fences or relocating during half-court sets.
Westbrook’s career hangs in the balance
If Westbrook, 33, stays with the Lakers and endures a treacherous second season, then his career could begin to take a dive. By now, it’s understandable why there’s little interest in the star goaltender: the $47 million he’s slated to earn this season.
However, according to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps, Westbrook’s post-Los Angeles career could be on the line, which is why playing in Utah could make sense. The Jazz – who traded Rudy Gobert earlier this month and are listening to offers from Donovan Mitchell – appear to be setting the stage for a rebuild and could value Westbrook’s skills.
The Lakers could try to negotiate a buyout with Westbrook, but according to an April article from ESPN’s Ramona Shellburn, he’s unlikely to consider that option. The Lakers could just release him and eat his $47 million salary, but according to Marc Stein, that scenario isn’t an option.
“He might be out of the league after the Lakers,” Bontemps said during an appearance on the July 22 episode of Brian Windhorst’s podcast, “The Hoop Collective.”
It seems clear that Westbrook and the Lakers need a fresh start, and if a deal like Bailey’s proposed materializes, it would be in both parties’ interests to seriously consider the move. Of course, Irving has always been the main target, but if he wants to stay on the East Coast, Mike Conley would be an ideal stopgap until next summer.
Heavier on the Lakers News
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