Why Lakers’ Current Roster Screams Big Russell Westbrook Trade Coming!

The Lakers’ current roster literally screams a big Russell Westbrook trade is coming. The roster desperately needs the 3-point shooting and bigger 3&D players that only trading Westbrook and first round picks can get for them.

If the Lakers don’t trade Westbrook for two or three legitimate rotation players, they’re going to be doomed to missing the playoffs for the second straight year. The current roster is simply too small and cannot shoot. Complicating the situation, the only trading chip the Lakers have to bring back the needed 3-point shooting and depth at the forward positions is Russell Westbrook. They cannot upgrade the roster without trading him.

The Lakers and their new head coach Darvin Ham continue to discuss the possibility the team may in the end decide to bring Russell Westbrook back. Frankly, not trading Westbrook will doom the Lakers to repeat last season.

Lakers’ Current Roster Is Unfinished Product

While Pelinka transformed the backend of the Lakers’ current roster to be younger and more athletic and versatile, the roster remains an unfinished project without needed starters and rotation players from Westbrook trade.

If the Lakers do not trade Westbrook, they will likely be stuck with something close to the above roster, which could be the worst roster any franchise has surrounded LeBron James with over his 20-year NBA career. The crazy risks of bringing back Westbrook notwithstanding, there is no way the Lakers can open this season with this roster which boasts no quality 3-point shooting or front court depth to support James and Davis.

To begin, there is no way the Lakers are going to be a playoff team if two of their five starters and five of their top ten rotation players, including LeBron’s and AD’s primary backups, are unproven minimum salary players. That’s just not how the NBA works. Besides superstars, you also need six to eight legitimate rotation players to complement your stars and fill out your starting lineup and rotation. Right now, the Lakers just have three of those.

More importantly, there is no way the Lakers go into the season with unproven Troy Brown, Jr., Juan Toscano-Anderson, and Wenyen Gabriel as backups to LeBron James and Anthony Davis at small and power forward. Unless the Lakers plan for James and Davis to play heavy minutes, they need to find better quality rotation players to back up their superstars. The lack of depth behind LeBron and AD makes this roster unworkable.

Finally, the biggest reason the Lakers cannot bring Westbrook back is this roster as currently constructed is surely the worst 3-point shooting team now in the NBA and the worst 3-point shooting team in LeBron’s career. Here are the 3-point shooting stats for the Lakers’ projected five starters and five backups. What’s frightening is there is not a single player among the Lakers best ten who is close to the league average of 37.4% on threes.

The Lakers can’t just pull the plug on trading Westbrook when the cost went up because running out an inexperienced and undersized starting lineup and rotation that can’t shoot, will be as big a disaster as last season.

Best Three Westbrook Trades for Lakers

Let’s make one thing clear. If the Lakers pursue one of the following three trades, it means they are going to go all-in and invest their two first round draft picks to win another NBA championship before LeBron James retires.

Forget about cap space for Kyrie Irving next summer because the Lakers aren’t going to waste two unprotected first round draft picks for potential free agents like Myles Turner or Bojan Bogdanovic and not re-sign them. The key to the Lakers giving up their two first round picks is getting back players who fit Anthony Davis’ timeline and can still be factors come 2027 or even 2029 on whether the Lakers are a playoff or lottery team.

The Lakers’ goal in trading Westbrook should be to fix the deficiencies that make the current roster unworkable by finding three legitimate rotation players who are elite 3-point shooters and include at least one 3&D wing. Unsaid is the principle that the Lakers should not give up draft picks, especially unprotected ones, unless they believe the players they are getting will help them win a championship this season and after LeBron retires.

Here are three trades involving Russell Westbrook and the Lakers’ two available first round draft picks that do an excellent job adding elite 3-point shooting and front court positional size to fix the team’s current roster.

1. Trade with Jazz for Bogdanovic, Beasley, Clarkson, & Vanderbilt

The Lakers trade Russell Westbrook, Kendrick Nunn, Wenyen Gabriel, and their 2027 and 2029 unprotected first round picks for four legitimate rotation players from Jazz including one starter and three primary backups.

Trade enables the Lakers to reduce minimum salary players from five players to just three and increase midlevel rotation players from just two to six players. Lakers also added three elite 3-point shooters in trade.

The Jazz trade is finally able to be consummated because recently traded Beasley and Vanderbilt can now be aggregated with other players. This could be the Russell Westbrook trade the Lakers choose because of depth.

2. Trade with Pacers & Knicks for Turner, Hield, & Reddish

The Lakers trade Russell Westbrook, Wenyen Gabriel, and their 2027 and 2029 unprotected picks for three legitimate rotation players from Jazz and Knicks including two starters and one critical primary backup.

Trade enables the Lakers to reduce minimum salary players from five players to just three and increase midlevel rotation players from just two to five players. Lakers also added three elite 3-point shooters in trade.

The Pacers trade is probably a better fit for the Lakers than the Jazz trade because of how great Myles Turner would fit in Darvin Ham’s systems and how he could unleash Anthony Davis to finally take the baton from LeBron.

3. Trade with Pacers & Jazz for Turner, Bogdanovic, & Beasley

The Lakers trade Russell Westbrook, Kendrick Nunn, Wenyen Gabriel, and 2027 and 2029 unprotected first round picks for three legitimate rotation players from the Pacers and Jazz, including two starters and one backup.

Trade enables the Lakers to reduce minimum salary players from five players to just three and increase midlevel rotation players from just two to five players. Lakers also added three elite 3-point shooters in trade.

In the end, this could be the best of all of the Westbrook trade options as it nets the Lakers the best two players available in Turner and Bogdanovic. This would be the trade Rob Pelinka should be trying to put together.

Lakers Have 20 Days Before Training Camp to Trade Westbrook

After today’s Westbrook and Beverley lovefest, expect the world to continue to ignore the obvious reality that there is simply no way the Lakers are going to open their season with the roster they currently have.

While it’s admirable that Ham thinks he can make Russ work, keeping Westbrook also means keeping the Lakers’ current roster with no way to fix the horrible 3-point shooting or lack of reliable backups for LeBron and AD. The harsh reality is the Lakers’ current roster is doomed to a fate similar to that of last year’s undersized and poor shooting roster. Ironically, it’s even possible that last year’s roster was even better than this year’s roster.

Posturing aside, the Los Angeles Lakers have no realistic option of fielding a competitive NBA team this season unless they trade Russell Westbrook and their two available first round draft picks for multiple rotation players.

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LakerTom

LakerTom

Lakers fanatic since 1971 when team traded for Wilt Chamberlain. Founder, editor, and publisher of Lakerholics.com, a community for smart informed Lakers fans.