The Lakers are actively looking to deal Russell Westbrook. Of course they won’t admit it in public, but if you look hard enough, you’ll have a hard time finding a credible source that says otherwise.
In his article for The Athletic, Jovan Buha expresses confidence that it will occur. Buha recently expressed his belief on the Late Night Lake Show podcast that the Lakers, who have repeatedly posed their unwillingness to give up two first-round draft picks to get off Westbrook, will ultimately send out the two future firsts (2027 and 2029) in a deal with Brooklyn to bring back a Kyrie Irving package, likely also including one of Joe Harris, Seth Curry, or Royce O’Neale.
The Lakers could also give the idea of trading Westbrook to Indiana for Myles Turner and Buddy Hield some more thought along with the two future picks. Although Buha thinks the Lakers would be more hesitant to make such a deal, the pressure to dump Westbrook and put a team in place that can compete with LeBron James’s Heat only grows as training camp and the season approach.
However, until a deal is actually made, the Lakers must proceed as if Westbrook will be returning, and this is where things become extremely dire. The Lakers are “hopeful for a corner-3 shooting percentage bump from Russell Westbrook next season,” according to Yahoo Sports’ NBA insider Chris Haynes, who is trying desperately to find a role in which Westbrook, a historically bad shooter who needs and wants the ball on a team with LeBron James, can be useful or at least not actively harmful.
We have heard this before, unfortunately. Westbrook’s new coach on the Lakers, Darvin Ham, has said in recent weeks that he wants the superstar to take more corner 3-pointers than he ever has before.
To repeat, this is an extreme measure. The corner is the last safe haven before the team’s bench if they’re looking to conceal someone. Here is the part where we mention that Westbrook, according to Cleaning the Glass, made 44% of his corner 3s in the previous season and 41% in the upcoming season. You’d have to be as desperate as the Lakers if you equated those stats to the idea that Westbrook can be a legitimate corner 3-point shooter.
Last year, Westbrook made only 4% of his 3-pointers from the corner. According to CTG, it was 2% in 2020-21. You can’t possibly know what you’re doing without considering volume when analyzing this sort of data. Now, there might be reason to think the odds are real and that an increase in volume will further reveal a latent talent for some shooters. Russell Westbrook does not possess any latent ability as a shooter.
But hey, maybe it’s the least bad option among many. Does it really matter if Westbrook misses four or five nightly corner threes? Is there any chance that Westbrook would even agree to take on the part? Really, I can’t fathom it. It seems pointless to continue. I agree with Buha that the Lakers will eventually give in and trade the two of them, along with Westbrook, in order to field a team that has legitimate playoff hopes. Until then, talk will center on how Russ will cut more, make the Lakers a transition force, and take some of the playmaking load off of LeBron.
Let us know how things are going!
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